January 11, 2008

AIIDE 2008

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:44 am

AIIDE (AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment) is the premier conference for artificial intelligence, games, and other forms of interactive digital entertainment (disclosure: I’m the general chair of AIIDE this year). The Call For Papers is now available. Papers are due April 22. The conference will be held October 22-24, 2008. The full CFP follows:

September 25, 2007


from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:38 pm

So my day at the Tokyo Game Show was predictably exciting, overwhelming, and just plain loud. There is plenty o’ detailed online commentary on the TGS out there, so here I’ll just briefly mention the games that caught my eye.

Echochrome is a puzzle game that plays with Escher-like optical illusions. The player’s job is to allow a small walking figure to traverse a platform construction by rotating the construction, and thus changing the camera’s perspective. The figure’s ability to navigate the platforms depends on the subjective truth of the current visual perspective, rather than the objective truth of the 3D model. You can play with the game engine online.

Patapon is a rhythm game in which you control your army of cute little 2D procedural critters by tapping out rhythms composed of different button combinations. The lines to play were too long, so I didn’t get the chance, though I definitely love the visual style. Gamespot has a nice description of actually playing the game.

September 23, 2007

Join the fun at UC Santa Cruz

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:11 pm

So, I’ve been pretty remiss about blogging lately, with all the usual excuses (moving, new job, adjusting to parenthood, buying a house, going up for tenure – I like to engage in every life stressor at the same time). But I’m getting my feet back under me, and one of my new year’s resolutions (new academic year, that is) is to get back on the blogging scene.

So, without further ado, I’d like to announce that we’re looking for, not one, but two, new faculty to join the game design program in computer science at UC Santa Cruz . We’re looking for applicants with demonstrated research excellence in either:

  • Computational aspects of videogame design, such as artificial intelligence, real-time animation/graphics and Human Computer Interaction (CS) or
  • Computational digital media in the context of video games, including game design, game studies, and game art (DM)

January 15, 2007

AIIDE Reminder and Agent Workshop CFP

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:23 pm

Just a reminder that the papers for AIIDE (Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment), originally blogged here, are due in a week, Monday, Jan. 22.

Also, I’m co-organizing a workshop at this year’s Automous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems conference (held this May in Honolulu, Hawai’i) on Agent-based Systems for Human Learning and Entertainment. The workshop will bring together people who are interested in autonomous characters for education and training with those interested in autonomous characters for games and interactive drama. Papers are due February 5. The workshop will be held May 14th or 15th. The full CFP is below.

December 21, 2006

Local Boy Makes Good

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:47 pm

Last week Good Times, a local Santa Cruz weekly, ran a cover story about my research and the new game program at UC Santa Cruz.

November 20, 2006

Calling all game AI researchers and developers

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:47 am

As the program chair for this year’s AIIDE conference (Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment), I’ve been horribly remiss in not blogging this CFP earlier. AIIDE 2007 will happen June 6-8, 2007, at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA. Papers are due January 22, 2007. New to AIIDE this year, we have two paper tracks: the research track, focusing on core AI research results that make advances towards solving a known game AI problem or enabling a new form of interactive digital entertainment, and the published games track, focusing on AI techniques developed and fielded in commercial games. AIIDE is the conference for enabling conversations between academic and industry game AI researchers and developers. With the two, distinct types of papers this year, we’re hoping to encourage even more fruitful interactions between academia and industry. The full CFP is available here. Please check the AIIDE web page for future updates.

November 17, 2006

Spot at Santa Cruz

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:56 pm

Scott Draves (aka Spot) gave a great talk on the Electric Sheep project yesterday to the Digital Arts and New Media program at UC Santa Cruz. Spot is well known for his algorithmic artwork based on cellular automata (CA) and fractals. When I knew him at CMU in 1996-1997, he had been working for several years on a CA-based screen saver called Bomb.

What I like about Scott’s work is the rich, organic feel of his mathematically-based generated images. I find that much CA and fractal art has a cold, clinical flavor that makes it feel like an illustration for a math text. Scott has found ways to twist and tweak such systems so that the images they produce escape out of “math space” and become interesting in their own right.

Electric Sheep combines the concepts of screensaver-based massively parallel supercomputers (ala SETI@Home), genetic algorithms, and fractal generated art (using recursive set functions that employ non-linear rather than the standard linear transfer functions) to generate morphing fractal animations that breed and reproduce. Scott’s server now contains thousands of these sheep, both the ones that were popular (received many votes while running on screensavers, and thus reproduced) and ones that weren’t. He has recently teamed up with the famous UCSC chaos theoretician Ralph Abraham to statistically analyze the properties of the sheep stored on his server, looking for correlations between formal properties of the sheep and aesthetic judgments (based on the popularity votes that drive the evolution of the sheep). They are currently focusing on fractal dimension as the correlate.

November 9, 2006

Montreal Game Summit: Day 2

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:45 am

Continuing notes from the Montreal Game Summit. The conference opened today with a keynote from NOA President Reggie Fils-Aime. While a pretty standard business talk about how Nintendo is innovating (“The Wii Proposition” etc.) I was impressed with the numbers he had to back this up. My favorite statistic: in September sales data, 20% of Nintendo DS purchasers reported they “have never played a videogame before,” and this number is growing. So they really do seem to be growing markets.

November 8, 2006

Montreal Game Summit: Day 1

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:55 pm

Notes from the first day of the Montreal Game Summit (excluding final keynote of the first day, which starts in a few minutes). Arrived at 1:00am this morning; feeling some serious jet lag starting in…

September 28, 2006

8 Bit Mary

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:30 am

GrandTextAuto’s own Mary Flanagan appears in the documentary 8 Bit, premiering October 7 at the New York MOMA. The trailer is now available for your viewing pleasure.

May 25, 2006

Façade Player Survey

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:08 pm

I’m currently working with Blair MacIntyre, Steve Dow and Manish Mehta on AR-Façade (Mary mentioned this in an earlier post). Part of this project involves evaluating the difference in the player experience between the desktop and embodied AR versions of Façade. And of course, to do this, we need to better understand the player experience of the original Façade. Following up on earlier evaluation work on Façade, we’re currently conducting a web survey. We seek participants who have played Façade and are willing to answer questions about their experience. The online survey does not collect any identifiable personal information and will take approximately 10-15 minutes of your time.

May 22, 2006

Gam3r 7h3ory

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:54 pm

MacKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto, has written a new open text, Gam3r 7h3ory, in which he is interested in two questions: can we explore games as allegories for the world we live in, and can there be a critical theory of games. For GTxA readers, the answer is already yes and yes. But of course the real meat lies in the particulars of how you answer those questions. Wark invites us all to participate in the on-going evolution of this text. Thanks to Ben of the Institute for the Future of the Book for pointing this one out.

May 16, 2006

More conferences

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:31 pm

Following up on my previous post about upcoming conferences, here’s another batch of conferences of interest to GTxA readers.

ACM Multimedia 2006 Interactive Arts Program
ACM Multimedia is the premier annual multimedia conference. The ACM MM Interactive Arts Program brings together the arts and multimedia communities to explore, discuss, and push the limits of both multimedia technology through the arts, and the arts through multimedia technology. They’re looking for both papers and interactive art exhibits. ACM MM will be held in Santa Barbara, California (USA), October 22-28, 2006. Submissions due June 1.

May 5, 2006

Two talks at GDX

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:57 pm

This morning I went to GDX, a one day game symposium hosted by the Atlanta branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design. I caught a keynote lecture by Noah Falstein on serious games and a talk by Brenda Brathwaite on censorship challenges to games. Here are my relatively unedited notes from those talks.

Noah Falstein

Opens by saying “serious games” is a bad name. Implies that all other games are trivial or frivolous and that serious game aren’t fun. His interest is games beyond entertainment.

May 3, 2006


from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:50 pm

The latest version of Chris Crawford’s elusive Erasmatron — renamed the Storytron — is out. Here’s his announcement of the pre-alpha version of their Story World Authoring Tool (Swat):

At last, after years of work and rivers of hype, our first version of Swat is available for download! It’s not even an alpha version — not all the features are in place, and there are plenty of bugs. But it’s good enough for you to start learning about our technology and how it all works. We would very much like to hear your comments on Swat. Yes, it’s far from complete — this is version 0.51, because we figure it’s only half-finished. And if you’re leery of being a lab rat, you might want to wait a month or two for a more complete version. But if you’re the kind of pioneering soul we seek, then you can exert a lot of influence over the development of the technology by getting in at this early stage.

April 29, 2006

Misc. Conferences

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:58 am

There are a number of interesting conference and workshop deadlines approaching.

The 3rd international Conference on Technologies in Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE 2006), Darmstadt, Germany, December 4-6, 2006. Papers are due July 15, 2006.

Workshop on adaptive approaches to optimizing player satisfaction in games, held in conjunction Simulation of Adaptive Behavior 2006, Rome, Italy, September 25-29, 2006. Papers due May 21, 2006.

Sandbox: ACM SIGGRAPH Video Game Symposium, Boston, MA, USA, July 29-30, 2006. Papers due May 15, 2006 (Extended deadline!)

Game-On 2006, Braunschweig, Germany, November 29-December 1, 2006. Early submissions due July 31, 2006 (there’s a later deadline of September 15th).

April 9, 2006

California Dreamin’

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:56 pm

Quickly on the heels of my previous personal announcement, I have another one. This summer will be my last summer at Georgia Tech. Starting this fall I will be joining UC Santa Cruz, where I will help in building up their new, technically-focused undergraduate degree program in computer game design (here are some working papers describing the degree program), as well as help in building up a new game research lab. The last few years at Georgia Tech have been good ones; I will certainly miss my friends and colleagues here, though I’m sure we’ll continue to actively collaborate and will see each other on a regular basis.

March 25, 2006

Another GTxA girl

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:00 pm

NatalyWhile we don’t normally write personal blog entries on GTxA, I’ll follow Andrew’s lead and make an exception.

After months of waiting, three weeks ago we finally got to bring our little girl home from Guatemala! Nataly is almost 8 months old. We spent 8 days with her over Christmas; it’s amazing how much she’s already changed since then. She’s doing wonderfully; happy, healthy, already comfortable in her new home. We love being parents…

With my new daughter just home, I skipped GDC this year. Ian gave our joint talk. While I missed catching up with folk at GDC, I loved the week I spent with my daughter.

February 8, 2006

Graphics Meets Games Competition

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:01 pm

Eurographics 2006 is hosting a “Graphics Meets Games” competition. Submissions consist of small 3D games that showcase a novel form of interactivity and/or novel graphical effect. Doesn’t look like there’s much in the way of prizes, but if you win you can say “I won a game competition.” Details are on the Eurographics website.

February 6, 2006

Latest Vectors Issue Out

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:57 pm

The latest issue of Vectors is on Mobility. Each of the flash articles/interactive works explores a different theme related to mobile technology and culture. Two of the pieces are by authors familiar to GrandTextAuto readers, WiFi.Bedouin by Julian Bleeker and PlaceStorming by Jane McGonigal. In WiFi.Bedouin, Julian documents his experiments with setting up WiFi hotspots that are not connected to the public internet, but rather provide local, place-specific experiences. In PlaceStorming, Jane provides a guided cutup mechanism for turning an academic text into a superhero manifesto that is then hidden in a geocache and publicly performed and documeted by the finders of the cache.

February 2, 2006

Linden Lab Fellowship

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:48 pm

Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, are offering their first fellowship in visual and performing arts for creative innovation in Second Life. From their annoucement:

This $4,000 fellowship will provide a young artist with a chance to be free for a semester or summer to explore the use of the digital world of Second Life as an artistic medium. In doing so, we hope that we will see Second Life used to even greater potential in the expressive arts to the benefit of both the Second Life culture and the broader world of art.

February 1, 2006

Living Game Worlds @ Tech

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:05 pm

I’m happy to annouce that we’re hosting the second Living Game Worlds symposium at Georgia Tech, on Thursday, February 16th. Last year, the first Living Game Worlds symposium (1 2) was held in honor of Will Wright receiving the Ivan Allen Award. The event was so successful we’ve decided to do it again. This year’s symposium explores what game design can learn from an interdisciplinary engagement with other fields. Will Wright kicks off the event with his keynote Design Learning: How Other Fields Can Inform Interactive Design. Registration is free, so if you’re in the area, drop by. We do ask that people pre-register so that we have a sense of the head count.

January 28, 2006

Slamdance Awards Night

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:18 pm

Facade SurprisedThe awards ceremony at Slamdance was a great party: three bands + liberal quantities of tequila = fun. Red Bull and Corazon were official sponsors of the Guerilla Game Competition, so the drill through the whole competition was all the free Red Bull you could drink all day, and all the free tequila you could drink all night. I unfortunately had a nasty cold the first couple of days of the competition, and so was having to take it very easy. But by the last night I was back in fighting trim. Andrew, who has more important things than game competitions going on in his life, was able to fly in for the last day, so we were at the awards ceremony together. An hour or two into the party, the organizers Sam and Carolyn took the stage and started announcing the awards.

January 26, 2006

ACM Video Game Symposium

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 6:56 pm

Sandbox, the first ACM Video Game Symposium, will be held this summer, July 29 and 30, in Boston MA, USA (collocated with SIGGRAPH 06). This is the first ACM-sponsored conference on video games; rumor has it that it may eventually spawn into its own ACM games SIG, with its own conference, etc. In addition to the papers, the Hot Games session will preview previously unreleased titles from major game companies as well as indie developers. The call for participation encourages a broad range of submissions, ranging from technical papers to humanistic game studies, from game design to analyses of the economics and business of games. Long papers are due May 1, Hot Game demos are due July 1. Read on for the full CFP.

January 23, 2006

Hello from Slamdance

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 6:13 pm

Slamdance bannerI’ve been here at Slamdance for the last couple of days exhibiting Façade. Andrew flies in later today. It’s a cool venue, though, echoing Ian’s post, we’re not getting as much foot traffic I’d like. Façade would be particularly suited for the non-gamer indy-movie-loving audience who descend on Park City for Sundance and Slamdance. In conversations in bars and restaurants, it’s fun introducing random festival goers to the concept of indy games. After describing Façade, a common reaction is to say “Oh, I’ll have to send my kids by the game lounge” – funny given the subject matter. I of course take great pains to explain that, as an art form, games can be aimed at adults as well as children, and that in fact Façade was not designed for children. (On a related note, Façade, which was supposed to be included on Moondance Games IGF compilation CD, was excluded at the last minute because having it in the compilation would have required ESRB “Strong Language” and “Alcohol Reference” descriptors which none of the other games required – not kid’s stuff indeed. Our next game will have to involve killing things so that we can get an E rating.).

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