Wireless Researchers Hosting ‘Game-Jam’

It is difficult to provide a detailed and comprehensive picture of wireless network data performance in the real world. Although providers like AT&T and Verizon offer coverage maps on their web sites, there is no reliable source of end-to-end network performance across different providers and across a range of locations during different times of day.
CSAIL graduate students Victor Costan, Yu-han (Tiffany) Chen, Ravi Netravali, and Jonathan Perry are looking to build a network map by gathering information on wireless network performance through smartphone games as part of new research underway in Professor Hari Balakrishnan’s Networks and Mobile Systems Group at CSAIL and Wireless@MIT. The games would drive players to certain locations where there is sparse information on network statistics in order to gather data.
From Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19, the group is hosting a location-based, Android “Game-Jam,” a two-day event dedicated to bringing game developers together to build a host of mobile games that will aid in this research. The hosts are looking for game developers with experience in Android or web programming, graphic designers, and audio professionals to participate.
Once the event is completed, the games will be used to gather network performance statistics and build a comprehensive map of how the network behaves across different regions. The information will be useful in not only providing data on how the network operates for mobile phone and Internet providers, but also to provide a reliable source of information for researchers looking to improve wireless and mobile device connectivity.
“People will hopefully be able to get better performance because of this data,” said Perry. “Researchers can use the information for research on improving network reliability and performance, as it will provide data on data transport latency and throughput for cellular and WiFi networks.”
Users of the mobile games will be aware that the games are gathering information on network connectivity to be used in scientific research, but they will not have to expend any effort, beyond playing the game, in order to help gather information on network connectivity.
Participants are encouraged to express their creativity when developing games during the Game-Jam. Examples of different types of games that might be useful in gathering network statistics include games for individual players that set goals for players to achieve and social games that allow groups of players to collaborate or compete to achieve a common goal.
The Game-Jam will be held in CSAIL and will kickoff at 7:00 PM on Friday, May 17 the Patil/Kiva conference room (32-G449) in the Stata Center. The event will wrap up Sunday, May 19 at 9:00 PM with prizes and awards. All members of the MIT community and beyond are invited to participate. Those planning to participate must register by 12 noon on Friday, May 17 at: http://gamejam.mit.edu/. More information is also available at: http://www.facebook.com/events/446123112141036/.

-Abby Abazorius, CSAIL