Safety in Game Design

It seems as though every year the game has some significant safety issues. I understand some of that is the nature of what we do, but I believe the GDC needs to do a better job designing the game with safety in mind. Here are some of my thoughts over the last couple years.

2015:
-Pretty sure 1678’s whips would have been lethal to anyone in the wrong area. No fault to 1678, they were the best in the world at a critical part of the game. Problem was game design promoting this.

2016:
-Would the game be any different with tape instead of the tripline around the secret passage? How many people have tripped walking backwards carrying a 150lb robot over this thing?
-Climbing is exciting and all, but 150lb robots will hurt when they fall. Its only a matter of time before a major foot injury.
-Why are officials, volunteers, etc exempt from basic safety rules? Walking, running, and jumping over defenses and field walls are all too common. Can we please hold everyone involved to the same standard? This is a change that can and should be made immediately.

The game would be VASTLY different. The tube contains the balls rolled into it unless the balls are intentionally rolled at a high speed. This also establishes a clear separation between courtyard and secret passage balls. This tube is very, very important to the dynamics of the game and it would be a much worse game without it.

And quite honestly, I haven’t seen anyone trip over this stuff.

-Climbing is exciting and all, but 150lb robots will hurt when they fall. Its only a matter of time before a major foot injury.

150lb robots hurt when they are dropped too, so we shouldn’t pick them up either? Eliminating climbing because a robot might fall is extreme - if a robot is going to fall, it is going to fall long before humans are on the field. It would take a pretty spectacular edge case for a robot to only fall off the bar in the split second between a human entering its vicinity and maintaining control of it.

Robotics will never be risk free, and honestly I think you’re applying too much scrutiny to these games. Go back and find a game that doesn’t have “safety issues” as you define them, because you can’t - we’re dealing with 150 lb, 5 foot tall robots, it will never be totally safe. We just need to be aware of all potential issues and take reasonable precautions to mitigate them.

Most of your post is too idealistic for my taste.

I have yet to see anyone trip over the secret passage tubing and see it as an important part of the game for a few reasons.

Climbing is dangerous for the robot I agree but not for the humans around it. I highly doubt a robot is going to hang the entire time and then fall as soon as a human steps on the batter. Besides the fact that the only injury sustained from such a spectacular feat would only be a few broken bones.

Here is where you get me back a bit -

-Why are officials, volunteers, etc exempt from basic safety rules? Walking, running, and jumping over defenses and field walls are all too common. Can we please hold everyone involved to the same standard? This is a change that can and should be made immediately.

This in particular really annoys me. At the SBPLI regional during alliance selections two of the alliance captains were next to each other separated by an empty defense slot. When the alliance captain in the courtyard asked the alliance captain in the netural zone to join their alliance. The neutral zone captain went to walk over the empty slot but was stopped and told to walk all the way around. This is a bit ridiculous when you see volunteers jumping over defenses, and doing negligent stuff like going through the drawbridge and portcullis.

I am OK with them doing it if, we are also allowed to quickly jump a defense/barrier. It is pretty annoying that people are getting yellow carded for something volunteers do a couple times per match. Either make it legal for all or illegal for all.

There are a couple difference I can think of off the top of my head between drive team members and MCs running and jumping around the field.

First, when MCs are running around the field, there are generally no other people on it carrying very heavy robots at risk for collision, which can’t be said for when drive team members are setting things up. It’s a relatively more controlled environment.

Second, and I’d argue this is probably the “real” reason, is that there are much greater concerns about students injuring themselves as opposed to adult volunteers, and people feel more comfortable letting adults assume risk for themselves.

While I agree it kind of sucks that a very momentary lapse in judgement (stepping over the field border/defenses) that probably isn’t leading to that much of an increased risk can be of grave consequence to your team, there’s also a great deal of emphasis from all announcers and field crew that those actions aren’t acceptable.

One easy way to avoid unsafe robot design is to eliminate critical resource scarcity.

Scarce resources can lead to crazy R&D into potentially unsafe mechanisms (see: 2015 Can Races, 2011 Minibot Races, etc.)

-Mike

Ironically, I saw someone trip pretty badly over the secret passage tubing when walking onto the field with their team to accept an award this past weekend. I guess because of the long line, they couldnt see it with their teammate directly in front of them.

Agreed. There are also some standard practices in FRC robot design that are somewhat questionable. I’m quite surprised by the general acceptance of spinning wheel shooters without guarding or consideration for the RPM rating of the wheels. Of course, writing rules and inspecting for safely designed spinning wheel shooters would probably be largely ineffective.

In 2006, you could not pass inspection if your muzzle velocity of the ball was too fast. I cant recall the speed but they did check them during inspection with meters.

Because Volunteers are highly trained skilled acrobats …

  1. Only Students are carrying a heavy robot. It is easier to make a rule that Students follow all the time.

  2. Volunteers are doing it every match. They know when a defense has not been secured, and unsafe to step on (cross). Other stuff to watch out for on and off the field. It is easier to tell the students: “wait for the open gate”.

The real reason: It is a perk they give the Volunteers as an incentive to volunteer.

I thought free food was the main perk :rolleyes:

[http://i.imgur.com/s1wvzY5.jpg[/img]"]http://i.imgur.com/s1wvzY5.jpg](only reason I volunteer.

As a foot-shuffler, I tripped over it once at Dallas. :rolleyes:

I saw a 5 student pile-up during awards at the NC Campbell University event, and they didn’t even use the field for the awards (just walked in front of it). The first person stopped to grab a medal from a judge and the rest ran into the back of the student in front.

The moral? I have no idea. I guess life can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention no matter what the venue?

I will admit, I see no reason why they couldn’t have brought back the middle gates for this particular field.

At all of the events I have been to/watched awards they removed the secret passage tubing before awards.

This thread seems a bit quixotic, and reminds me of the one not so long ago that chastised some or all of the Dean/Dave/Woody trio for not wearing safety glasses during a game demo.

If anyone wants to actually change things, use your noggin, and figure out the proper channels to use to contribute your help.

If anyone wants to winge/vent, this is a great place to do it.

:wink:
Know-what-I-mean?

Ah yes, the age-old (and very helpful, I might add) “your-posts-on-this-forum-amount-to-nothing-in-this-bleak-world” post.

Thanks gblake!

-Mike

Just FYI, Frank Merrick ( fmerrick [the “at” symbol] firstinspires [the period symbol] org ) is a great place to email questions/concerns about FRC game design safety.

I’m not positive (maybe someone else knows for sure), but do all districts own their own field borders? If so, implementing a 1-time change to the field border setup like this would be costly to them. The configuration of the alliance station wall is easy enough to change year to year (and it’s an expected change), but the sides are a little more difficult.

I think it would also complicate field reset/robot flow - if you were to limit robot entry to one gate (since the FTAs, refs, etc would be really mad if robots had to enter directly in front of the scoring table), you’d have six teams trying to go through one opening at once, potentially creating a backup in the lane where teams from the previous match have to travel to exit.

That’s fair. Something that I definitely didn’t consider. I’m just recalling the field from back in 2010, which was basically a time before districts (MI not withstanding.)

I think it would also complicate field reset/robot flow - if you were to limit robot entry to one gate (since the FTAs, refs, etc would be really mad if robots had to enter directly in front of the scoring table), you’d have six teams trying to go through one opening at once, potentially creating a backup in the lane where teams from the previous match have to travel to exit.

It’s certainly possible to still do the 3 team entry per side, though admittedly locals like Greater KC that have very little space between the scoring table and a side of the field complicates the midfield entry.

The answer is yes, districts do own their own field perimeters.