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Truly a game of chance

Posted by: 1_kermit - Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:39 pm
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Truly a game of chance 
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Launch Director
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Post a   Posted on: Thu May 04, 2006 8:35 am
So are you saying it is just a game of chance or that it’s just not fun? If it’s just a game of chance who do you predict will be making it to the final level, just anyone that’s lucky?

I predict those making it to higher levels will be people that have done a little research and are making educated predictions.

As for it being a fun game, well, for me that’s not the point. The ride into space will be the fun part.


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Post    Posted on: Thu May 04, 2006 9:02 pm
Runfast

If your strategy for getting into space involves insulting people like me that are paying money to participate, then I wish you the best of luck in finding competitors to "match" against.

The mod asked a valid question, and I gave what I think is a valid answer based on 15 years of participating in forecasting contests. Personally, I don't care about the prizes -- I'm only interested in testing my skills against motivated competition. I personally doubt my ability to get 18 winning forecasts in a row, but as it stands now I'm never going to be absolutely sure why.

Right now, I'm 40% against halo, and 50% against crux in 15 matches. I'm 100% against single stragglers in 5 matches. THAT'S IT. I've talked with former colleagues and people I went to wx school with, and none of them want to participate. Why? They find the rubric not challenging enough, and it doesn't test their skills well enough.

So here's another suggestion: Make 2 contests out of this:

Contest #1 is the general contest, just as it is now. $3 for a play, 18 in a row to win. Designed to get as many people as possible involved, with every possibility and expectation that a non-professional will luck out and win by hitting only the hi temp 18 times in a row.

Contest #2 will be cheaper, have more things to predict (thus being a tougher contest), and will require many more rounds to win. If you choose to participate here, then know that there will be no complaining if a professional beats up on amateurs on a regular basis.


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Post    Posted on: Fri May 05, 2006 7:02 am
so are you say the game is not fun, or its just luck. It sounds like your biggest problem with the set up is the play action, not the probability of winning.

what percentage of players do you think will make it to higher levels by mere guesses. I mean predicitons that arent based on any fact but only feeling.


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Post    Posted on: Fri May 05, 2006 7:08 am
And I apologize, my intent was not to sounding like I was insulting you, I merely am interested in what you and others think about the game and the chances of winning.


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Post    Posted on: Fri May 05, 2006 10:55 pm
Runfast wrote:
what percentage of players do you think will make it to higher levels by mere guesses. I mean predicitons that arent based on any fact but only feeling.


Statistically, a 24 hour forecast based on the 30 year climatalogical average is correct about 33% of the time (in comparison to another prediction). I remember my climo instructor saying that a "feeling" prediction is just about as good, outside of any hard data. So I would assume that the odds of a pure guesser (not a random guesser, BTW) winning this contest would be roughly 33% to the 18th power, or 0.00000022%. This is assuming, of course that all the contestants are random guessers.

I would also assume that a player that chooses the right CCM, service or data feed to base predictions on has a roughly 100x better chance than the guesser.

The wildcard, of course, is the contestants, such as myself, who take all of the above and add our education, experience, knowledge, computer power, assumptions, theses, etc. Do we increase our chances? By how much? 10x, 100x, 1000x? Or do we degrade our chances?

Personally, I'm hitting 50% against 2 individuals whom I suspect are active long-term professionals. I feel pretty good about that. Of course, if I only hold a 50% win rate, then my odds of winning are only 0.0004%. To have a realistic chance of winning this, I'd have to hit on roughly 90% of all my plays (and play a lot more) -- obviously, my forecasting technique is going to have to improve quite a bit.

So, bottom line, at the moment I'm merely seeing how far I can get on $20. Once I exhaust those plays, then we'll see if this is "fun" enough to keep participating.


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Post    Posted on: Sun May 07, 2006 1:01 am
Weather forecasting just doesn't sound very fun to me, and since my chances of winning are low I am not persuaded to play just for the chance to win a space flight. Now if the game were fun in its own right, I might play.


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Post Value proposition   Posted on: Mon May 08, 2006 3:36 pm
Quote:
Weather forecasting just doesn't sound very fun to me, and since my chances of winning are low I am not persuaded to play just for the chance to win a space flight.


The number of players per tournament is high, but the price is low. The retail value of the prize is 75% of our revenue for one tournament. You will not get a better deal than this. If you play quickly, you are spending very little time on the game. If you don't want to buy a shot at spaceflight don't play.

Many people find hope and fulfillment in games that involve anticipation. To quote a recent Space Settlement Institute congratulations letter, "Having the retail value of the prize be 75% of the entry fees collected if players buy entries at 6 for $18 are very generous terms that are much more generous than almost all state lottery games. We wish Texas firm Space-Shot.com will do 1% as well as the Texas State Lottery's $3.4 billion/year. $34 million/year would be enough to send nearly 100 players to outer space and sell out available capacity for over a year." The game of chance they refer to about as fun as our game of skill.


Last edited by dinkin on Tue May 09, 2006 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Mon May 08, 2006 4:48 pm
Interesting debate...and sorry for my absence from the game for three weeks (out of country), as I would like to reduce asheet's percentage against me! :) I appreciate the complement too...

Personally, I'm in it for the spaceflight, but if others are in it for the game itself that's great too. If Space-Shot comes up with different, more complex ways to play I would be just as happy as I am now...

Now back to getting my spaceflight. I hope there are still people playing so that I can use my remaining plays.


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Space Walker
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Post Some modeling   Posted on: Tue May 09, 2006 10:01 am
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To have a realistic chance of winning this, I'd have to hit on roughly 90% of all my plays (and play a lot more) -- obviously, my forecasting technique is going to have to improve quite a bit.


It is realistic that one of the 131,072 players will win with 100% chance. The current leaders are a jet pilot in Louisiana and a graduate student who studies migration at University of Washington. The winning entry will have to win (or tie) 100% of the time. Each player at level 1 has a realistic opportunity to make a better prediction and start off with a 1000 batting average for that entry. And so on.

If your skill is just a little better than everyone else, such that you win each level 51% of the time, you would win one tournament in 93,600 and you would get an expected value of $3.12 of spaceflight for every $3 entry. Do you value the hope of spaceflight?

If I reorganize the game so that you can win at each level 90% of the time, you would win after seven entries on average. It would be very difficult for me to find opponents for you if you won two flights in a row.


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Post Goals and means   Posted on: Tue May 09, 2006 10:26 am
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According to NYU-Albany's wx school, the main genesis of wx prediction contests was to get away from the simple reliance on simple regression, numerical models, etc. From that point of view, judging a winner solely based on high temperature means that a guess is as good as a regression, which is as good as a weather model, which is as good as simply quoting a CCM or the NWS. As it stands now, this is a game of chance -- which is boring to me. If you want to keep me interested, and pumping money into your company, make me challenge my skillset a little bit more.


I am trying to get people to space and improving weather prediction is only secondary. If simple regression is all that is necessary to predict the high temperature, then most matches at higher levels will be decided on a tie break of precipitation or humidity. If simple regression is all that is necessary for temperature, then researchers who want to win should do a simple regression for high and low and focus on precipitation and humidity.

Therefore, logically, your criticism is self-limiting. If simple regression techniques are all that is necessary for predicting the temperature, then the rubric adequately shifts the bulk of the prediction weight to other factors.

I disagree with your premise. The high temperature is not easily predicted by regression (or whatever means forecasters are currently using) and there is clearly room for improvement. An uneducated guess cannot possibly be as good as a well-researched prediction. Even an educated guess like the daily normal would be systematically trounced by predictions taking into account yesterday's temperature.

I hope you will continue to play. I do not share your goal of making the game more challenging to professional weather predictors. If it is beneath them, that explains why their models are so shoddy missing by 5 degrees one day and 17 degrees another.

If I rejigger the game so that professionals win all the time, that would drive away regular players. There are many fewer professionals than regular players. If you read Mason Malmuth, popular game design requires that things not be too weighted toward professionals and against regular players. That's why games of chance like 5-card draw poker are no longer around. That's why your National Collegiate Weather Forecasting Contest is not around. Perhaps if it were high temperature only, it would have a loyal following among non-majors. The case you make (not that I agree with it) is a case to keep the game the way it is.


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Post    Posted on: Thu May 11, 2006 6:01 am
I like all the numbers, it cool to see the math worked out.

-So, winning 16 in a row is not good enough, you don’t just drop one level on a loss, your back to the start. Is there any incentive for coming in 2nd or 3rd, etc? Do the chances of win appear good enough to the average person such that they believe the risk is worth the reward?
-For those that are only thinking about the trip the reward should out way the cost and whether the game is fun. We’ve mentioned lotto, but lotto can win you millions for a mere $1 entry. Even though the odds of winning are terrible the reward is too good to pass up for most people, and most people go into lotto thinking luck is on their side not skill. Most people don’t do the math before they play and I doubt anyone would assume they could win a weather prediction game based on good luck or faith.
-Personally I find the game to be challenging and fun. Not because the play is fun but because trying to predict the weather is fun. I also believe there is a realistic chance of winning this game vs. lotto. But, I play lotto on occasion, especially when its over a 100 million.

-What do you guys think?


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Post    Posted on: Thu May 11, 2006 4:01 pm
So I am an archaeologist, not a statistician...

I tried to calculate the real rate of return for Space-Shot vs. the WA state lottery. I did this by dividing the average pay-off by the odds of winning, normalized to $1 per play (anyone, please tell me if this is wrong). To do so I took the total payoff for Space-Shot (just about $300,000) divided by 131,000, the number of plays needed to complete the game. I assumed that everyone was buying their plays on the six-pack at $3 a play, so I divided the result by three to make it the amount of money a person would get back for every dollar spent if one person bought all the plays necessary to win. The result:

.76 on the dollar

I did the same for the WA lottery, giving it the benefit of the doubt that the average payoff was $5,000,000 (it is almost always 1.5mil or so). The odds of winning the WA lottery are one in 6,991,908. Dividing 5mil, by the odds (in case you wanted to buy that many tickets) and got:

.71 on the dollar

Even in a game of chance, such as the lottery, the payoff is significantly better and the return time significantly shorter. But this is a game of skill, so you, the player, have more control over the outcome. I play the lottery fairly regularly and never win crap. Yet I have roughly turned $100 some dollars in to plays valued at $500 some... If I could duplicate this result on the lottery I wouldn't be playing here.

Of course, my present position is tenuous at best, a temporary peak in the trend perhaps...


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Post return on time   Posted on: Fri May 12, 2006 12:24 am
The return on time depends on how much you put in. On average, each player need only research two plays per entry. That may be less time than a trip to the convenience store to buy a lottery ticket. For players that make the same weather prediction on more than one play, it is even better. We will continue to work to improve player controls and have in development a tool that will populate the same prediction into multiple plays.

We promise to improve the value proposition for Space-Shot.com as we get more players and in turn get more volume discounts from spaceflight providers.


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Post Fast answers   Posted on: Fri May 12, 2006 12:39 am
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So, winning 16 in a row is not good enough, you don’t just drop one level on a loss, your back to the start.


Single elimination tournament, just like NCAA basketball championships or the US Open tennis tournament. Need 17 wins on the same entry. Ties and no matches are OK. Lose and you have to buy a new entry.

Quote:
Is there any incentive for coming in 2nd or 3rd, etc?


Just the promotion of getting a free play while you are unmatched waiting to be beaten. The incentive is to win! Maybe someday there will be a reality TV show so you can become a weather professional if you are a runner up in the tournament.

Quote:
Do the chances of win appear good enough to the average person such that they believe the risk is worth the reward?


We will keep improving the value proposition and tweaking the price and levels until the average person who likes space travel wants to play.


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