The student-invented game Scoring Frenzy may be a relatively simple wager for a fantasy sports lover, but it took some massive supercomputing power before it was ready for the patent application process. Developer John Lukasik and his partner, both students in last fall’s Gaming Innovation class, were able to run game simulations on one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers: UNLV’s Cherry Creek II.
“The game is based on real-life sports,” explained Lukasik, a UNLV Harrah Hotel College graduate student. “We needed to test the underlying algorithms of the game against full seasons of professional football. To do this, basically, we had to simulate 50 million NFL seasons to understand what the odds were.”
Calculations that would have taken weeks, possibly months, to perform on a more traditional computing system took just under three days with Cherry Creek II. Co-located at UNLV’s Science and Engineering Building and off campus at Switch’s Las Vegas SUPERNAP data center, Cherry Creek II is equipped with such massive computing power that it can run countless simulations simultaneously.
“We were basically creating a mild form of artificial intelligence,” said Andrew Cross, a fellow Gaming Innovation student and Scoring Frenzy game partner.
Open to both university and non-university students, the Gaming Innovation course encourages students to to developing technically advanced games for casinos and the Internet. Cross has helped run demos for several students in the class using traditional computers. “Coming from an engineering background,” he said, “the class is great because you get a large cross section of people: undergrads, grads, people from industry — different perspectives about what makes a game fun.”
Course instructor and executive director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Innovation Mark Yoseloff said Lukasik’s game epitomizes the innovative, collaborative spirit of the class. “The results of the game’s test run were extremely gratifying, demonstrating the viability of John's idea,” said Yoseloff, who has assisted dozens of Gaming Innovation students, including Lukasik, in filing gaming patents.
By supporting student inventions, the Cherry Creek II supercomputer helps increase patent development and commercialization potential for the university.
“The growing relationship at UNLV between gaming innovation, other departments on campus, and technology leaders in the community has nearly boundless potential,” said Bo Bernhard, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, which oversees the Gaming Innovation Center. “This partnership is a great illustration of how our Top Tier initiatives are in fact highly relevant to both our university and community.”
About Scoring Frenzy
Scoring Frenzy, currently in the utility patent phase, is under consideration by several major companies as a promotional game. It is a new type of skill-based, house-banked sports wager in which players select NFL team members within four randomly populated tiers.
“There are elements of skill in this game,” Lukasik said, “but it allows the casual player to do well because they are competing against the house rather than other players.”
Lukasik said the idea of designing a game for the casual player is attractive at a time when sports wagering has become extremely competitive and technology driven.
Yoseloff pointed out that the simplicity of play makes the game accessible to all players. “It is also house banked and meets the mix of randomness and skill that we believe will be considered part of skill-based gaming in Nevada.”
“Lukasik’s game represents the future of fantasy sports in Nevada,” Bernhard added. “What was previously unregulated will be made regulable under existing structures in the state and allow players to enjoy fantasy in their sports book.”