Electronic Arts is challenging UK Computer Science students to program the Artificial Intelligence of a tank and win a chance to meet the developers of the Battlefield series along with a brand new computer and a collection of EA PC titles.

The competition - billed as the latest step in EA's ongoing UK education initiative - invites students at a number of selected UK and Irish universities to add their own AI routines to a tank warfare mini-game, which pits a pair of tanks against each other in a 100m x 100m environment. Finalists' designs will be presented to EA's judging panel, who will assess them based on technical ability, originality and creative merit.

EA provides the software code free of charge and says that students will retain ownership of their intellectual property.

"As we move into the next-generation, the task of rendering stunning graphics in games is slowly being handed over to specialised hardware. We have reached the point where we can easily produce highly realistic and incredibly impressive visuals with relative ease," says EA's Head of University Research Liaisons John Buchanan.

"In this competition, we have deliberately downgraded the graphics to emphasize the importance of AI. Over the next five to 10 years, AI is going to differentiate great games from the rest. With this competition, we hope to find people with a passion for AI and understanding of the magic that makes a game truly fun to play."

The competition is open to students of Sheffield University, Imperial College London, University College London, Manchester University, Cambridge University, University of Surrey, Abertay University, York University, Liverpool John Moore University, University of Sussex, Edinburgh University and Trinity College Dublin. Submissions must be made between February 15th and 28th 2006. Details of eligibility restrictions and complete rules can be downloaded from EA's website.

Apart from EA Tank Wars, EA's UK education initiative also includes Academic Awards, EA Studio Tours, Summer Internships and Guest Lectures at universities, where staff present at universities and the returning professor lectures at one of EA's studios.

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