There is a large amount of computing time being devoted these days to simulation of crowds of people. Whether it’s for traffic management or architecture or fire safety analysis, how crowds behave is both important and hard to model.
I have searched for the following idea in various patent databases but failed to find it. Maybe today’s invention exists in the scientific literature on the subject, to which I have no access.
It is simply to create a simulated crowd using computer games graphics, but instead of making individual avatars move according to some small number of agent-type rules, why not gamify the process?
People would sign up to an individual avatar and see the interior of some building as through their eyes. A large number of people online would then attempt to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, whilst avoiding obstacles and each other. The winners would win a range of large prizes.
This approach includes normal psychology of large numbers of real people and might therefore give a more realistic impression of how crowds actually move when suitably motivated. It might even include physical parameters, like the maximum walking speed of an individual.
Did someone mention the January sales?