Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
Modeling Opinion Flow in Humans Using Boids Algorithm & Social Network Analysis
View All     RSS
February 28, 2020
arrowPress Releases
February 28, 2020
Games Press
View All     RSS

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Modeling Opinion Flow in Humans Using Boids Algorithm & Social Network Analysis

September 28, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 7 of 8 Next


We have presented here a simple, but workable, model with which to model the flow of an important opinion in a population of humans. It can be used with populations small or large, homogeneous or heterogeneous.

This work is the first that I know of in which a social network is the raw substrate for a dynamic simulation. As such it represents just the beginning of study. But even in its initial form we can use it to help create realistic game worlds.

Of course, this work represents just another step toward a Matrix type complete simulation of the world of humans. We can’t yet model accurately all people and their interactions yet, so we use a simplified model (connections, assessments, alignments, etc.) Placing our players in ever more realistic game worlds promises to make the games more intuitive and instantly engaging. This trend will only continue.

For Further Information

Source Code

Software to run these types of simulations is located at It is covered under the GNU public license, so it is free for you to use.

It is probable that you will need to modify it for your own particular purposes. Since the code is set up as interfaces, and one can overwrite the methods that create the connections and initial alignments, going to higher levels of detail should not be difficult.

Continuing Work

On the site listed above we will continue to improve this code and more features. Future refinements may include:

  1. Allowing linkages between individuals to change over time. Linkages may even be formed as ‘like minded’ individuals come together.
  2. Improving the terms that may affect the composition of the actors. For example:
    • Demographic data may be used to help refine the percentage of the population that are likely to change their minds on topics, or be susceptible to radicalization (as under employed young men tend to be.)
    • Population dependent things such as literacy rate, education and critical thinking skills may effect the influence of written literature and how well ideas permeate from those sources into the general population.
  3. Handling the interrelatedness of ideas. If one is interested in changing opinion, sometimes it may be necessary to not tackle things, but first remove ideas that tend to support the idea that you are trying to change. This is common in argument. How to decompose ideas, at least as far as they are part of the common cultural psyche, is an interesting and potentially fruitful area of study.
  4. Input from actual members from a population. If these simulations ever grow large enough and contain real world examples, it may be possible to allow the actual participants to plug in and indicate how they feel on a topic.


We have eclectically cobbled together ideas from many disciplines. The references below have been essential reading.

  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
  • “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements” by Eric Hoffer
  • “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach” by Stuart J. Russell, Peter Norvig
  • “AI Game Engine Programming” by Brian Schwab
  • Boids Background and Update by Craig Reynolds
  • “Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications” by Stanley Wasserman, Katherine Faust, Dawn Iacobucci, and Mark Granovetter

Article Start Previous Page 7 of 8 Next

Related Jobs

Heart Machine
Heart Machine — Culver City, California, United States

Technical Designer
Purdue University
Purdue University — West Lafayette, Indiana, United States

Assistant Professor in Game Development and Design
Heart Machine
Heart Machine — Culver City, California, United States

Gameplay Engineer
Vicarious Visions / Activision
Vicarious Visions / Activision — Albany, New York, United States

Senior Software Engineer

Loading Comments

loader image