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[DPRG] Micro Robots: A modest proposal

Subject: [DPRG] Micro Robots: A modest proposal
From: David P. Anderson dpa at io.isem.smu.edu
Date: Fri Nov 1 02:43:01 CST 2002

Howdy

Pete Miles posted some good, interesting comments about robot sumo and robot
contests in general.  Pete is the event co-coordinator for the Seattle folks
(they do a great job at their yearly Robothon, I can tell you from
experience) so he has obviously thought about this a great deal: sticky
tires and magnets and audience building and rules issues.

He makes some very interesting points about robot contests and their underlying
motivations, to wit:

> When the crowd loves an event, the event grows because they get involved in it.
>
> If the crowd doesn't like the event, it becomes boring, and eventually dies
> because the competitors go away from it.

<snip>

> ask yourself this question. Why are you even
> competing in it?  Is it because you enjoy the technical challenge of
> building a sumo robot, or do you like to hear the crowd cheer you on.  If
> there was not one spectator to watch the event, would you still compete?
> 
> When you hold a public event, do you do it for the spectators or the
> competitors.  If it is only for the competitors, then why make it a public
> event? 

Why indeed?  

Some might argue that Pete is confusing the advancement of hobby robotics with
the entertainment industry, but they would miss the larger issue.  I spent many
years myself as a musician and professional entertainer, so I believe I can
speak with some experience and candor on this subject.  

I would therefore like to propose three additional elements for our robot sumo
contests, and for all our robot contests in general, which I believe are in the
spirit of Pete's observations and which I believe would be logical and
valuable add-ons to the competitions.  Perhaps even the BattleBots folks,
who I understand were not picked up for a 6th season by the Comedy Channel,
might benefit from these suggestions.

I propose we can enormously increase audience interest and excitement in hobby
robotic events by the addition of these three elements:

1.  Gambling	
		Wagering on the outcome of robot sumo is a natural, and will
		up the revenues of robot clubs substantially, bringing in a
		whole new heretofore untapped audience for our events, as
		well as providing healthy purses for the winners and thereby
		increasing both the size and level of competition.  For clubs
		in states where gambling is illegal, I propose video links
		to casinos in areas where wagering is allowed.  We might even
		consider a special "Native-American" sumo class for the gambling
		establishments on the reservations in neighboring states.  This
		simple addition will, I believe, totally change the face of the
		hobby of robotics and in a single stroke make it a legitimate sport.
2.  Alcohol	
		This more than any other element will increase the excitement
		as well as the volume level of the crowd, and is another potential
		source of income.  Take a cue from professional sports here,
		BattleBot aficionados!  People like to drink at sporting events,
		especially if they also get to gamble.

3. Scantily Clad Large-Breasted Women.  

		Once again, the experience of professional sports like WWF wrestling
		suggests that huge cheering crowds as well as almost certain television
		coverage and the accompanying fame and revenues which will follow can
		bring our fringe hobby out of the shadowy halls of weird science and 
		into the mainstream.  I'll be there for sure!

Think of it, folks.  Visual-Basic Joe with a fist full of dollars and a babe under each
arm, stoned out of his mind and screaming for YOUR ROBOT!  It just doesn't get any bigger
or more exciting than that.

Now if you are offended by these admittedly vulgar suggestions, you might perhaps console
yourself with the thought that the huge sums of money raised from these events will go
a long way toward paying for whatever clever serious robot inventions you may be nurturing
in your quiet little workshop.  Think about it.

most respectfully,
dpa


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