The ESP Game


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Rating: 4.4/5 (20 votes)
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The ESP GameFrom Carnegie Mellon University comes this multiplayer Java applet simply called: The ESP Game.

The game requires you to register and sign in, and then it pairs you up with an anonymous partner for a round of ten images. You have two minutes and thirty seconds (2:30) with which to agree on labels for the 10 random images pulled from the Web. When an image appears, each player begins typing words that describe or relate to the image in some way. A list of taboo words, if given, indicates the words you may not type—probably because those words were already used to describe the image. When both players type the same word, points are awarded and the next image is displayed.

In an effort to label all of the images on the Web (in English, of course), some rather brilliant folks at CMU decided to turn a dull and tedious task into a... well, slightly less dull and tedious game. Granted, there are lots of points to win and when paired with someone that's sharp, it goes rather quickly and it therefore can be fun. However, if you get paired with someone who hasn't a clue what to do, and there are lots who fill the bill, playing the game is not much more fun than watching paint peel: "Your partner wants to pass."

I wanted to like this game, really I did. There are people right now talking it up at RIT, and the idea of playing with real people, although anonymously, seemed very cool at first. Just call me silly for wanting to use slightly more exciting words to describe things than "man", "woman", "black", "white", "logo" and "ad". And yet, you had better become familiar with those words if you plan to play The ESP Game, as you will be typing them in often. That is, if you want to score any points. Still, it's an interesting idea, so give it a try and do your part in helping to label the Web.

Play The ESP Game

29 Comments

I just played that game in XML class. It's fantastic.

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Prepare yourself for a supercalifragilistic review of this game in Friday's Reporter.

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I've been going to the games you've been recommending for quite some time...always something new and interesting. Could you assist me w/this game? I can't get it to load, all I see is a small box w/a red X...has something to do w/Java, but you're working w/a 52 year old grandmother and I don't know how to make this happen...any help would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance, and keep up the great work! Bryn

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Thank you, Bryn, for the kind comments. =)

From what you described, it seems that you do not have the Java Virtual Machine installed on your computer, as the ESP Game requires it to play. You can get it from Sun Microsystems and install it relatively painlessly, though it has been a while since the last time I installed Java on my own computer. Searching Google brought me to this link. The person who wrote that Web page details his experiences with installing Java for several different browsers, on a PC and on a Mac.

I hope that helps you, and if you are still having trouble with it after looking there, let me know and I will come up with better instructions for you.

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wow this game is amazing im gonna be playing this so much now! thank you for this game

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not happy April 10, 2005 9:13 AM

i love this game but i think it is rigged, i dont believe you are playing with another person, in fact i think it's a way of gathering information on how people classify and name certain things and the marketting companies are getting the dirt on us....not ONCE have i ever finished the game, why is it always i can never agree with the last photo?
and also, if you notice somtimes when you click on 'view guesses' for some photos my supposed partner didn't bother entering a guess at all, it's blank (and i dont mean the last photo you couldnt get because they never show the words to that - now why would that be?)
fun game, but dodgy marketers and the people who made it...it disgusts me!

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I saw something very strange and cool in this game just now... I noticed that on a photo that my partner and I could not agree upon, his or her guess that the game revealed to me was "pass". Could be they didn't know you hit the button... OOOORRR could be in order to maximize points, you and your partner could both type in "pass"! This would suggest that the game is not rigged.

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This is a very good game. You want to do well not only for yourself, but for others. It also requires you to think about what you see.

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Maybe they couldn't think of an answer when they didn't put one? That happened to me a few times, to many tabboos so no good answers. I have so far managed to complete it once, but the game is so addictive I can't stop! Great game, very imaginative.
With a few faults though, the random collection of a photo means it is sometimes very hard or easy to get an answer. If there are a lot of tabboos on a simple picture it can be near impossible to find a guess.

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After about two rounds, I figured out that my *partner* wasn't looking at the same picture that I was looking at. Reviewing the pics lets me see that while they were guessing the answer for a "hippi bus," I was guessing the answer for a dog. Really frustrating, but I can't stop playing :(

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hi, umm i like this game alot, and it frusurates me when the pictures dont match up. also what bugs me is when the taboo word is null. what does that mean?? bc when ever it syas null my partner and i never agree, or thats when our pictures get messed up. so if anyone know anything to help me out.... let me know! thanks!

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help! when it says null it switches up the pictures with my parentner, so we dont say the same things! its impossible!

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I tested this out with a friend in another country, we loaded the game at the same time and were able to do the same game at the same time, while i talked to her on a headset.

Don't take my word for it, try it yourself.

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ARG it's so frustrating when people put in ONE guess and then stop. I know you only see one result in the end, but I can tell, because I put a lot of simple words, and finally I hit "man" or something and they guessed that--or DIDN'T. For a picture of a model's face, I had woman, girl, model, tan, beach, wind, hair, bikini, white. Their guess revealed to me? brunette. Seriously.

Still, I know this'll be awesome with a good partner. Hope I get one soon.

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I guess it's a bit glitchy, hence why it is in beta. I was looking at something with a bunch of words, and somehow my partner said none of them. Their guess? Man. Then I was looking at a man, the person said glasses even though he had none. Nonetheless a very, VERY addicting game.

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Oh my, addictive is right!!!
It's such a gas when you hook up with a partner that you click with...much more fun when it goes fast.
Kind of like gambling...keep going back to see how good (or bad) a partner you get this time.
My only complaint is having to 'edit' myself to spell words the 'American' way & not the 'Canadian/British' way...colour/color gets me every time!

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It would not even let me sign in. Must need ESP to even do that. STUPID!

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It feels like lowest common denominated thinking. You have to curtail your almost initial Rorschach thinking and take a second to boil it down to really base visual cues. That's only IF you're playing a real person and they're seeing the same picture.

I'd say I hit a good partner after 1 in 5 games. But yeah I hate seeing an orange infused sunset over a group of dusty workers and later I see that after "orange, sunset, workers, dirty, dusty, dust, late, hot, hard, tough" I get a guess of "man" that works.

I'm sure there are some literate thinkers out there, but it ran it's gamut of fun after about 20 games.

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fun! love it!

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mostly agreed with colours (green, white, black, ect.), man, woman..

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This is similar to something that Google had up a while ago (they might still have it up, but I haven't checked). They said it was to help them in classifying images for them, assigning keywords, etc.

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nothappy - you do play against other people, I did it with my sister. It was either that or we both had the same pictures and got the same words right at the same time.

Well weirder things have happened

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my professor made this game.

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Ainegue Author Profile Page July 10, 2008 5:05 PM

I played this game before.

Now i've come back, and the page seems to have gotten a makeover!

It's very fun, although I'm not very good at it. I think too much...

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You can play a game exactly like this on google images and there will be a link called google image labeler. and you don't have to imput your e-mail adress

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magical megan January 24, 2009 4:58 PM

i played this game a long time ago and i liked it... recently i went back to it and it was on this new site! i don't like it anymore... it seems to be working very slow and my partners never seemed to do well. there was a picture of a bird in a tree, i guessed "bird" and "tree" and my partner wanted to pass!
also i miss the old games peekaboom and phetch. they just bring me to this new gwap site and i can't play them! bring back the old esp game!!!

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Carolyn Schweda April 20, 2009 8:51 PM

I the game screen is a weird size and I can't see all of it. IT makes it really hard to play the game. How can I make it so I can see the screen?

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These are awesome :)

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This game doesn't work with your link. It's now on 'gwap.com' and it has a 'guest' function.

[Thank you. I've updated the links in the review. -Jay]

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