Microsoft's US team are holding a challenge aimed at US based holders of a Windows Azure account (including a 90-day free trial) can win prizes is running again with three weeks still to go. However as this is US Challenge UK entries cannot win but I thought it may be of interest to some academics and students as its a nice little challenge as don't have to be in the US to play the game and as a challenge in AI or applied statistics it is probably interesting enough to attract entries from UK Academia however I must stress your imaginable for prizes if your in the UK academic or student.

As with earlier versions of the game, participants code a player ‘bot’ that that will compete in an online game of Rock, Paper, Scissors – with some additional embellishments. The bots are hosted on Windows Azure and  take part in battles with every other competing bot.

A bot that wins a game scores 3 points on the leaderboard and a tie scores 1 point. The number of points you can receive depends on the number of players.

The game is both a sweepstake and a contest. Each Friday until the end of the contest on January 25th 5 bots will be selected as winners from the US – Therefore UK Enterants will not be permitted to win prizes.

As with its previous versions, the concept of this game is to build a bot that will compete in an online game of Rock, Paper, Scissors – with a few additional rules.  participants code a player ‘bot’, host it on Windows Azure, and its take part in battles with other competitors.

So Get Botting!

Do be aware however that deploying the Bot Lab will incur charges if you're not using one of the free Azure account offers see http://www.windowsazure.com/education for specific offers. If you are using a trial offer, hosted time will consume "compute hours" from your free allotment. Therefore, be sure to 'turn off' your Bot Lab when you're finished.

For more details and Information see Rock Paper Azure Site