Programming Humans with Evil Squash

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I’m gaining a new respect for board game designers. It turns out to be quite difficult to create rules for the games that are unambiguous and easy to understand. Even what I thought was a simple game, Evil Squash, has turned out to have some nasty edge conditions that we have had to think quite hard about.

Of course, a game design is really a “program for humans”. It is a sequence of instructions that involve the processing of data, with decisions and outcomes. The tricky part is that the rules are written in English, which is a language in which it is very hard to make yourself completely clear.

Perhaps as an introduction to programming we could get a bunch of people to design the rules for a game of some kind, and then “debug” it by playing the game. I’m certainly going to invent a new “imaginary” game for each first year programming course from now on, just exploring the rules and getting students to think about how they work has given a nice new dimension to the coursework.

You can find out more about the game itself at