‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Trading Card Game Makes Bold Step Towards Digitization

The trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh! has been going strong for over 20 years now, with its original manga beginning serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1996. But while the card game core of the series hasn’t and probably never will change, Konami are moving towards securing a new future for the series with the help of the latest technology.

The news came when developers from Konami attended a computer entertainment conference on August 23 to discuss their successes in developing a new computer recognition program designed to, well, recognize Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards. The system can already recognize and differentiate between around 9000 cards with a 100% accuracy rate, but such a success was the result of a considerable amount of trial and error.

Since putting QR codes or other traditional image recognition tools on all existing Yu-Gi-Oh! cards was impossible, the developers had to figure out a way for the system to recognize cards as they were. Just getting the computer to scan the card didn’t work very well, since a computer can’t compete with the numerous ways through which a human can remember a card by sight, which utilizes multiple senses. Yet, rendering semi-transparent composite images of each card and entering these images into the computer’s database worked surprisingly well as it brings out each card’s unique features more easily for the computer to interpret, leading to the developers’ current successful system.

What Konami intend to do with this technology is still unknown, but we can make an educated guess. With the rise in popularity of digital trading card games, including Yu-Gi-Oh!’s own Duel Links, digitizing the current card library for use in the digital realm through a computer could be what the series needs to bridge the gap between digital card collectors and physical card collectors. By getting a computer to recognize physical cards played and transferring this to the virtual realm, players with both digital and physical libraries could technically face off for the first time in history.

That being said, there are many problems with that. Not only would this have a massive effect on the physical card market, forcing them down in value, it would also drive up the value of digital cards to be closer to their physical counterparts since there would be no conceivable difference between the two. Furthermore, Yu-Gi-Oh!’s current digital flagship Duel Links features a very different, much less complex rule system than the physical trading card game, so there would be a large difference between the two players in terms of skill and game knowledge.

Therefore, it’s more likely that Konami will be using this technology to better detect counterfeit cards, which have always been a thorn in the side of the trading card game. The technology could also be used to provide a framework for more AR games in the future – Konami has already been experimenting with AR in conjunction with the trading card game, as seen at this year’s World Championship:

While the above battle is clearly heavily scripted and more for spectacle than anything else, combining the image recognition technology with a robust AR application to render the monsters of each card in real life, just like in the animated series, sounds like something straight out of many of our childhood dreams. In this sense, I think Konami are really onto something here, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this technology pays off in the future.

Thanks to Harry and Alicia for the news tip.
Source: The Organization

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