November 20, 2003
The above post on ICVS gives me the excuse to highlight three new academic researchers / projects that seem very interesting: procedural literacy, stealth learning, and computational (proto)ethics…
Last year at GDC’s Academic summit Ken Perlin gave a inspiring short talk on procedural literacy. Recently at LevelUp I heard Mary Flanagan, now at Hunter in NYC, say she was going to collaborate with Ken on a three-year research project “to build a successful software environment for realtime, applied programming for underrepresented students’ early literacy (RAPUNSEL) in order to address the critical shortage of women in Computer Science careers and degree programs.” … “We’re focusing on the design of an educational software environment that is created as a simulation-style game. Players learn to program gradually through the social play environment.” Very cool! I have high hopes for this.
The Authoring Electronic Stories for OPerators (AESOP) project at U.Penn, directed by Barry Silverman, is researching and developing tools and techniques to allow the authoring of interactive dramas for “stealth learning”. (Related link: The Education Arcade conference at E3 2004.) AESOP includes The Human-Like OPerator (OP) for Emergent Self-Generated Stories, “an architecture for a generic agent or character that senses what’s occuring in the story world, reasons about its best course of action, and effects the story by pursuing that course as well as it can.” Nick’s at U.Penn, perhaps he can gives us some more details.
Finally, Bill Tomlinson (a fellow paper reviewer for ICVS) is a new faculty member at UCIrvine’s new Art Computation Engineering (ACE) group (in my LevelUp summary I had mentioned UCIrvine’s new GameGrid project). Bill recently finished his PhD in the MIT Media Lab Synthetic Characters group, as a key member of the impressive AlphaWolf project. Although Bill and I have very similar research interests and experience building large autonomous character systems, we’ve yet to bump into each other in person at a conference :-( (someday!) Anyhow, based on his CV, his current research interests include “Designing Ethical Characters”, “Computational (Proto)Ethics”, and “The Biologicial Basis of Story”. Sounds super-interesting — I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for what he’s up to.