Is a quantum game the same as a quantum computer game? Can quantum computers run games? Can you game on quantum computers?
Synopsis of the article Defining Quantum Games – arXiv
Laura Piispanen’s PhD research surrounds the concept of Quantum Games. Quantum games are any type of games that connect to quantum physics by referencing to quantum physical concepts, by numerically simulating quantum physical phenomena or are running on quantum computers. The List of Quantum Games includes over 200 quantum games from card games to virtual reality games, but most quantum games have been developed for (classical) computers. Only a few games, quantum computer games, run on a quantum computer. So yes, you can run games on quantum computers, but so far using a quantum computer for gaming has meant queuing online in order to run only a small portion of the game itself, a single algorithm on the quantum device. So sadly you cannot run just any games like DOOM for example on a quantum computer, at least not yet.
Are quantum games serious games?
Quantum games are not necessarily serious games, or games with purposes other than pure entertainment. As you may notice from this list of quantum games, the earliest listed quantum game comes from as far back as 1982. It was called Quantum and ran on an Atari Arcade machine with a trackball control. This and most of the earliest games that referenced quantum physics had only a loose connection to actual theory of quantum physics or the phenomena. First quantum game with simulated quantum effects on our list is dated to 1999 (Quantum Soccer by Greg Egan), but it still took a few years for us to see many more quantum games as most of the earliest quantum games were created by academic groups with serious intentions. Serious is referencing here to games with a scientific purpose, be it educational or citizen science (for this, check for example Science at Home and the Big Bell Test!).
How are there so many quantum games?
In 2014 the series of events called Quantum Game Jam started as a local event at Tuorla Observatory in Turku, Finland from the initiative of The Finnish Game Jam organization and the research group Turku Quantum Technology. This one-weekend long event gathered together game developers, artists, musicians, and quantum physicists to develop quantum games. 8 games were born that weekend and the event was again organized in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Anyone even slightly interested in the quantum game concept has been openly invited to participate in these events and they managed to gather more than 300 participants! After these, a very special, invite and application only type of a quantum game jam was organized in 2019, Quantum Wheel. Altogether almost 70 quantum games and the start of commissioned artwork like the Quantum Garden were born out of these events (See our article for more info) and around the same time other actors like the Indian quantum community IndiQ started also hosting quantum game jams.
Quantum game hackathons and quantum game jams have brought a huge number of interested talents to this niche scene and this way started a whole new community of quantum game developers (do join us on discord!). What’s more, Aalto University has offered a fruitful nesting ground for quantum game development through an online course called Quantum Games. The course initiative came from Dr. Annakaisa Kultima, and is now on this third round with also Laura Piispanen as one of the teachers.
Games on quantum computers
The year 2017 was particularly remarkable for quantum games as that year the first ever game running on a quantum computer, a quantum computer game, called Cat-Box-Scissors was born ( Dr. James Wootton). Access to quantum computers through cloud-based servers were soon a thing and, coming back to Quantum Wheel, offered anyone interested to access them and create games using quantum computers for example. From this first-ever Quantum Game Jam to provide direct access to quantum computers, half of the games used this opportunity to their advantage.
How do I develop a quantum game?
Where else do quantum games come from? Well, maybe you! You are lovingly invited to join our Discord server Game-Set-Quanta to hear about the next quantum game jams, find others interested or even create a team for developing a quantum game! You can freely use the quantum game resources Laura Piispanen has started to gather together for the quantum game jams and Quantum Games course at this Developing Quantum Games -folder.
Questions or suggestions for additions? Contact Laura at her @aalto.fi email!