Dr. James Weaver of IBM presented QiskitBlocks at IEEE Quantum Week, which was held September 18-23, 2022, in Colorado, USA. And, let’s face it, quantum computing has a reputation for being challenging to learn. QiskitBlocks, however, offers a way to learn the very basics of quantum computing by playing a game that is quite similar to the very popular Minecraft game. There are other Quantum Games that we have reviewed in the past which help would be quantum learners understand the quantum landscape. Learning with quantum games can help you better understand quantum strategies.
MineTest foundation for Quantum Games
Despite namedropping Minecraft, QiskitBlocks is actually built on top of a free alternative called MineTest. Because QiskitBlocks is an educational game, the whole ensemble needs to be free. Therefore, both QiskitBlocks and its MineTest base are free to download. For installation instructions, visit https://github.com/JavaFXpert/QiskitBlocks.
Learning to Learn with Quantum Games
While QiskitBlocks is just a game, supplementary learning resources are available on the aforementioned GitHub page. There are links to slides you can read and videos you can watch to learn more about how to play the game.
The end of Dr. Weaver’s presentation was literally watching him play the game. He had QiskitBlocks ready to run, and he put on a live demonstration. Basically, you encounter puzzles during the game, and you solve them by building quantum circuits with blocks. Instead of Bloch spheres, Q-spheres, and the visualizations you might be accustomed to, however, the game has cubes of water. A Hadamard gate, for example, which creates an equal superposition, creates a block that is half full of water. By building the circuit that solves the puzzle at hand, you unlock the next puzzle.
But, wait, there’s more!
While the screenshots and directions favor playing QiskitBlocks on a desktop computer or laptop, The GitHub repository does mention Android as an option. The most noticeable differences between the platforms is that you have to double-tap where the directions say right-click and you swipe instead of using keyboard keys, but an average-size smartphone screen remains completely readable. You can definitely learn about quantum circuits on the go.
No end in sight
Dr. Weaver did not specify how many hours of gameplay you can expect, but a quick exploration reveals that the game does not seem to be small. One underground passageway leads to a maze of cavernous rooms, presumably all there with an educational purpose. You can also venture outdoors and there is additional content out there, as well. So if you love playing this style of game, it looks like it should entertain you — and educate you — for quite a while. For those who want to learn about the popular Qiskit language, there are a number of resources aside from quantum games.