Interested in game theory, advanced mathematics, classical economics and budget allocation problems? No? Let’s try again. Are you interested in commanding a legion of Zombie warriors in a pitched battle against your friends and random people online? We thought so, which is why we wanted to let you know about Shambling Hordes, a new social game experiment developed at Yahoo! Labs now available in our Sandbox.
With Halloween weekend about to kick off, there’s no better way to get in the mood to deal with the zombies (and other ghouls) trick or treating at your door than to command your very own Zombie army.
Here’s how it works:
- Within the world of the game, the zombie apocalypse is upon us and the world is being divided and conquered by warlords, each leading their Shambling Horde of zombies.
- Each player can move their zombie army into different territories on a fictitious island.
- As the two armies begin to meet in those territories, skirmishes ensue.
- Each player allocates his or her zombies into three groups during a skirmish and the winner is determined by matching the three different groups against each other.
- It’s a best two-out-of-three contest and the winner of the skirmish is able to spawn additional zombies to continue their march.
- The battle ends when one player’s Shambling Horde reaches the other’s command post.
Sounds fun, right? We think it is. But it’s also grounded in some classical economics and game theory that should be familiar to anyone who’s had a finite amount of anything (budget, advertising dollars, even candy) that they had to spread around in a competitive environment.
Just to take a common example from the business world, say you have $1 million to spend on advertising for a new product and you knew one of your competitors was getting ready to launch a very similar product around the same time. Where would you spend your advertising money? In microeconomics this situation is often associated with Colonel Blotto’s problem. So as you can see, even though your Zombie horde may be perfectly virtual, the decisions you make in the game and the strategies you evolve to deal with each skirmish are something with a range of real world applications.
Why is Yahoo! Labs developing a game like Shambling Hordes? Well, first of all, because Zombies are awesome. And second of all, because using technology and new experiences to look at thorny intellectual problems are a big part of the experimentation we do in Labs.
We’re hoping to understand how you – the users – play the game and interact. How quickly do people shift strategies or learn new approaches? What lessons could be applied to online advertising marketplaces? To other new interactive social games? Like most of our experiments in the Labs sandbox, Shambling Hordes is an open-ended pursuit. We don’t know exactly where it will go, but we do know we’ll learn a lot.
– The Yahoo! Labs Team
Try it out today to see if you can be the next great zombie leader.