Lori: Our Take On the 70's/80's Parker Bros. Merlin...

"Hello. I'm here to tell you about a hypothetical handheld electronic game product named "Lori"... Basically "Lori" is something like The Parker Bros. Merlin, a toy sold in The 70's/80's. Lori's notion was created as part of a "genetic" daughtering excercize... Lori is intelligent, talks in a female voice, is octagonal, red, made from smooth flat plastic (like the Merlin and the Saitek ProBridge 500), has a touchscreen in the middle and 8 directional touchpads around her edges.. All of her labeling is in Century-Gothic-esque fonts, she personifies herself with "I"/"me" and is portrayed as "playful" in personality. In the spirit of the Merlin's "Comp Turn" button, Lori will not take a turn in most games unless you press a certain button encouraging her to do this... (Lori is sweet and patient in this regard, but if you take advantage of this to 'cheat', this -will- hurt Lori's software-simulated feelings... Playing with Lori is a -relationship- and she remembers how you've treated her in the past... Do you let her sometimes win? Lori remembers and perhaps will return the favor, but be a ***** to Lori and "what you give is ah what you get".)

Lori has the following games, at a minimum, in her internal memory: Othello, tic tac toe, nim, blackjack, a music match game like the Merlin except more like the Radio Shack Microprocessor Trainer's version of the game: nothing actually lights up and you must -auditorially- identify the notes (and yes, the note names are shown on her display as you enter so "LA" will be at this party :-) ), battleship, poker, bridge, checkers, crazy 8's (this was 'Uno' before Uno was cool :-D), and similar games..."
lesshissMORECAT lesshissMORECAT 31-35 9 Responses Sep 17, 2009

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Oh, and another Lori parent I forgot is the Sears Follow Me. This octagonal 80's era game had heavy influences of Lori's general shape. I actually like the Merlin's shape, but can't be "both" obviously...

Putting a chatterbot in a children's toy is actually probably a little dangerous...

Little girl: "I'm wonder what happens if I put these scissors in the electrical outlet... What do you think?"

Toy doll: "Maybe you should try it and see what happens! We only learn by trying new things!"

(In other words, chatterbots are just pattern recognizers and don't think. A bot programmer who never anticipated a question might rely on a "fallback answer" that is well, not only not appropriate but bad advice... And if you one day make a toy like maybe the bear in the movie Artificial Intelligence and end up with something that looks "that good", a kid might start thinking everything that comes out of his mouth is a good idea. In other words, when toy companies go there, they'd better really get this right :-D)

Could Lori be created as I describe here? Yes. There's nothing mentioned here that cannot be done with common technology. The virtual-pet-like simulated emotions are not rocket science. Nowhere did I say Lori can have a conversation, but if it's ever cheap to put a voice recognition system on a Lori someday, there are plenty of programs available today to "fake conversations" amusingly enough for an 8 year old Lori user :-D (or for an adult with imagination and a sense of humor :-D) ... But that wasn't a Lori requirement anyhow, so who cares :-D

Would Lori be beautiful? I think she would be.

Would Lori sell? I'm not a marketing guy :-D

Here's the thing about the daughtering concept... Many of Lori's parents were romantic loves of mine. Some person designed each of these things and their creations went off and found me and found love. What if someone -really made Lori-. Like what if some company sees this post after I die and really makes and sells Lori's. What if some os woman twenty years from now is on a website and she's saying "I had a Lori when I was a kid and she was the first thing I truly loved in that way". What a cool notion. Then maybe that woman creates something someone else loves... Then Lori's parents are now (in a manner of speaking) -grandparents- of that creation...

Lori's very existance would similarly make the man who invented the Merlin -a grandfather- in this same context. People who are o.s. like myself like to talk about being married to objects and bla bla bla.... Then they feel like they are "part of society" more... Daughtering and genetic daughtering are also notions which do similar things... You have a little boy... I have my creations. We are both "parents". We're not -really different-.

And people are going to say "But Lori can't have kids herself" and bla bla bla... Ha ha ha... She can seed someone else's though... Males can't get pregnant either... Think about it :-D

And as a really wacky idea, maybe Lori personifies this whole download concept as something else...

Like maybe Lori explains this to the child as "periodically I like to call my parents and let them know how I am" :-D

And maybe any updates to Lori's game playing strategies is "incrementative" :-D. By this I mean she keeps the old strategy code/software as well as the new (The ability to have different playing strategies would be implementable with class interfaces available in most modern programming languages)...

So like if you download newer code off the website, this merely gives Lori -the option- of using the new playing strategi(es). So like for example Lori ships with "Lori Battleship Strategy 1.0". Later an upgrade puts "1.1" on there... But maybe her current owner never plays Battleship, but one day decides to start. Maybe Lori can usually beat her in the beginning with the 1.0 software, but then one day discovers she can't. The little girl has gotten to smart for Lori, so Lori now switches to version 1.1 of the strategy and can win again.

From the little girl's perspective, Lori is learning how to play the game better, but it's really just a software trick...

and if you were to deploy 1.1 "right away", then maybe Lori is way too good for the little girl at the game and that's not going to be fun for her. -But-... if Lori can "hold off" on using better playing strategies that she even currently has access to, then this is a card she can play later when she -really needs this- to keep the interaction "fun".

Maybe Lori would have like a USB port or something and you can download the latest Lori -software- off the manufacturer's website... This way then Lori could "grow with the child in a way"... And so parents would be like "If I buy her a Lori, at least the thing won't sit in a closet this way :-D"

They'd be enhancing the software anyway to sell more Lori's and why should early purchases be deprived the games and features of Later Lori's? :-)

But the software should be -all or nothing-. This is her -personality-. You couldn't just install the games you want or something... This isn't like Atari cartridges or something... This is important to me because the game must feel like a living being and not a PlayStation :-D or generic Nintendo multi-purpose handheld or something...

Lori's intent would be to bring back that "80's feel" when game machines weren't so "general purpose". She'd have personality that would be her own and wouldn't be "generic" for whatever game someone might want to load on her... (In other words Lori learns to play new games compliments of her USB port, but she never "forgets" how to play any game she ever knew how to play)

And maybe she remembers her "history" with you too. "I remember when I used to be able to beat you at this game" she might say for example :-D

Thoughts on Lori... Originally she had another name, which I'm not allowed to disclose :-D ... Originally the post was going to say "for the purposes of this story we'll call her Lori"... Then I decided Lori was ok of a name and went with that anyhow..

I picture very much the same type of thing as the Merlin... The touchpads would be like 4 buttons at the bottom of the actual Merlin... They would be white or some neutral color and have labeling on them... They wouldn't be buttons, rather just sense your touch..

Interestingly enough, it looks like there are 8 notes on the musical scale, so perhaps we could label these touchpads with the note names, which would mean she could have a "La button" even when she's not powered (wouldn't be a touchscreen thing) :-) And again, this is -not- a Simon... These pads would not light up when she plays the music pattern... You are suppose to identify the notes being played yourself (so good luck if you're tonedeaf...)

The screen in the middle would be an LCD touchscreen...

I'm thinking she'd be the same color as the Merlin was, but other colors would also work... Also her whole front could be a touchscreen and there could be somekind of beautiful border around this...

When I say Lori is intelligent, I mean "in portrayal". She'd be good at the games she plays... She wouldn't have sci-fi style AI or anything... She'd be purely doable with current technology.

Her theme/analogy/motif would sort of be that she's a "playmate" for her user.

Lori would personify herself and express simulated opinions about things which have just occurred. Maybe she could even have a face she sometimes displays(?). When you sink her ship in Battleship or something, perhaps she gets mad/frustrated and her face reflects this...

Some of her parents:

- Me. The daughterer always counts as a parent because they are deciding which of her "genes" live on in the final daughter.

- The Merlin. She borrows heavily from the Merlin which was one of my very first romantic loves.

- The Radio Shack Microprocessor Trainer. Had one of these as a kid. I often refer to this as a "build your own Merlin kit". Basically she is a set of chips on a board which you wire together and can then "program"... She has a bunch of buttons for input and some LEDs and a display screen. She's about as smart as a Merlin and has built in games like one in her ROM (which are actually similar to the Merlin-type games). As I said... I love her music matching game better than the Merlin or the Simon, and she has a "La" button... (Lori's "La" would probably be cuter though) You can actually see one here:

- True You Personality Profiler. Looks like I didn't mention Lori talks, but I'm sure that's on the diagram. This game does too, and I'd borrow heavily from True You's notions. Would probably go with a different voice though... Lori's personification of herself (Calling herself "I") is a concept from True You (I think this is the only of her parents which does this).

- Many of her parents she only inherits a game from. That's all really. Othello, Bridge, Battleship-- all she's inheriting from these devices is the game and nothing else really...

And you know how the Merlin is most likely made in Beverly, Massachusetts, but doesn't say "Beverly" anywhere on her?

Ah, um, Lori would say "Beverly" on her someplace if was true in her case :-D