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Tic-Tac-Toe for Dolphins

We all know dolphins are smart and playful, so...
  [vote for,

This Idea is for a gadget suited for letting dolphins play tic-tac- toe. Obviously it has to be waterproof and corrosion-proof (and as biological-growth proof as possible --barnacles not allowed!). If we want it to be playable most anyplace, then it needs to float....

Instead of simply floating on the surface where wave action will often prevent it from being stable, I'm going to suggest a two- level gadget. Part of it consists of something foamy (constructed like a surfboard) that floats on the surface, and part consists of the main board that is suspended under the surface, perhaps 2 meters, attached to the float. If the suspenders are springy, then wave action can be muted, so that the game board stays relatively still, beneath the float.

I think it would be better if the game board was oriented vertically instead of horizontally. It can have a horizontal piece to which the suspenders are attached. The wider the attachment points, the more stable will be the game-board.

Also, I want a purely mechanical game-board, so that we don't have to worry about such things as electronics getting wet. A few days of mulling this Idea over has led me to the following parameters:

First, the board may have significant thickness, and the back side of the board is featureless. Only the front side gets the attention of the game-players.

Second, the board needs to be somewhat largish, say half a meter on a side, because dolphins don't have fine manipulators like fingers. They will have to interact with the game using their beaks.

Third, the pieces (Xs and Os) cannot be loose; they must be part of the game-board. The ocean can be miles deep, and loose pieces will inevitably eventually become lost pieces.

Fourth, the game pieces need to have significant textural differences, not just coloration differences. While dolphin vision is good, they use sonar as their primary sense when underwater. So sonar needs to be able to tell the difference between an X and an O and a blank.

Before getting to the main construction of the game board, consider an equilateral triangle, and the center-point inside that triangle. Imagine an axle going through that center-point. We now consider the 3rd dimension, and a prism that has a triangle on top, a triangle on the bottom, and 3 square sides. One side has an embossed/colored X, another has an embossed/colored O, and the third side is blank. We want 9 of these, of course.

Now imagine one of our prisms with one of its flat triangles on the ground, rotating about the center-point of the triangle. We would like to easily rotate it 1/3 of a whole rotation, and then have it naturally stop. One way to do this is "detents", kind-of like this ASCII sketch:
If the bottom of the prism has a few protrusions, and the ground has equivalent dents, then while rotating there can be a gap between them, and when the protrusions align with the dents the prism can fall a bit, and it takes some effort to get it moving again. The amount of effort depends on the angles of the protrusions and dents, how big they are, and how many there are.

The main game-board is simply a frame for holding the 9 rotate- able prisms in a 3x3 grid. I want the axles of the prisms to be very near the surface of the game-frame; this means the pieces stick out from the game frame by a fair amount. More about that in a bit.

Part of each piece will be "inside" the game frame, between its surface and the back side. When this part is a pointy portion of the prism, that is when we want detents to hold the prism from rotating freely.

The part a prism that is outside the surface of the game-frame will be showing a flat face. Either side of that flat face can be pushed, to cause the prism to rotate. An appropriate gentle push would rotate it just enough that it would stop when the detents mesh again. Note we will need to keep water resistance in mind, when constructing this gadget. With a bit of distance between flat face of the piece and the game-frame, this allows dolphin snouts space for pushing one side of a piece far enough for a precise 1/3 rotation.

The "blank" face of the prism should have a small X at one edge and a small O at the other edge. If the O is pushed, then rotation would bring the face of the prism containing the large O into view. Same way for the X.

For either the X face or the O face of the prism, there also needs to be a small symbol at one side (X on the O face and O on the X face), in order to make it easy to notice which side of the prism- face to push, to bring the blank face back into view.

Well, that should suffice as a good-enough description of the gadget. Getting dolphins to actually learn and play tic-tac-toe is another thing altogether! Human divers could show-by- example, but would dolphins be interested? To Be Determined!


Addendum: On one side of the game-frame there could be a large static X and on the other side there could be a large static O. When divers show the dolphins how to play the game, one at each side of the game-frame, that addition can help make it obvious that X goes first, and players take turns, each working with just one of the two symbols. The divers can switch places to make it obvious that anyone can play either symbol.

Vernon, Jun 20 2016

Playground version http://www.onelette...sets/1245619156.jpg
The basic idea is available in many playgrounds around the world. [neutrinos_shadow, Jun 20 2016]

xkcd Tic-Tac-Toe http://xkcd.com/832/
Mr. Munroe has it covered. [neutrinos_shadow, Jun 21 2016]


       And if you thought that was TL so DR, imagine teaching dolphins checkers or chess or go or ....
Vernon, Jun 20 2016

       The basic idea (triangular pieces on vertical axes for tic-tac-toe) is found in many playgrounds (see linky). Making it textured so dolphins can play it is a great idea!
neutrinos_shadow, Jun 20 2016

       //And if you thought that was TL for a DR//   

       The first sentence is sufficient, the rest adds very little.   

       It's a bit like JFK saying "We choose to go to the moon. And now I'd like to spend a while discussing what sort of rivets will best accomplish that..."
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 20 2016

       [MaxwellBuchanan], are you promoting WIBNIs?
Vernon, Jun 20 2016

       [neutrinos shadow], I had not known about that playground version (thanks, though!), and since it looks like it is designed to be played from either side, the pieces appear able to rotate freely without having preferred stopping points. With dolphins seeing this version with sonar, the pieces very probably need to have flat faces on the game-play side aligned (less complicated reflections), which the detent system I described can accomplish.
Vernon, Jun 20 2016

       Dolphins cheat at tic-tac-toe and somehow always manage to get the centre square.
the porpoise, Jun 21 2016

       This is a stupid, pointless idea. Everyone knows that dolphins prefer Twister ...
8th of 7, Jun 21 2016

       \This is a stupid, pointless idea.\   


       Ah, the purpose of the HalfBakery in a nutshell!
Vernon, Jun 21 2016

       [the porpoise]; but you don't want the centre square to start. First move should be a corner. See linky.
neutrinos_shadow, Jun 21 2016

       [neutrinos shadows], one of the goals behind this Idea is, it is another intelligence test for dolphins. Most humans stop playing tic-tac-toe by age 10 or so; they have "solved" the game in the sense that they know the best ways to either win or avoid losing. But can dolphins do that, too? There's only one way to find out....   

       Also, another thing: Animal trainers reward animals with food, but if dolphins are as smart as humans, then they might also feel reward from winning, no food- reward needed. Are they that smart?
Vernon, Jun 21 2016

       How about, instead of letting the dolphins reset it manually (with cues as to which way to turn, as described), add a reset lever. This will make it easier, and also make it clear that the starting state is with all squares blank. Also, the cue to turn from X to O or vice versa suggests that doing so is a valid move, which it isn't.
notexactly, Jul 18 2016

       [notexactly], the reset lever might be good but has to deal equally with the differently-rotated blocks (some of which might not have been rotated). Not necessarily a simple thing to do.   

       As for rotating X to O, remember that humans are supposed to do exhibition games so the dolphins can understand the rules. No human will be changing an X to O...   

       I will admit, however, that it would have been nice to have a symbol for "blank", so that that symbol could be used instead of the small "x" or "o" mentioned in the main text. I did specify "small" so that they would merely be hints more than indicators of what to do. It might be possible to prevent full 360-degree rotation of the blocks; that would outright prevent changing an X to an O.   

       Perhaps if each square face had an actual square border, as embossed as the X or O, then a blank square could represent the blank side, and the small "x" and small "o" wouldn't be needed.
Vernon, Jul 18 2016


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