Keynote Speakers

Rilla Khaled

Department of Digital Games, University of Malta. Msida, Malta

What We Talk About When We Talk About Procedural Content Generation, August 26 PDF talk slides

Abstract: Procedural content generation (PCG) has been used in some form in digital games for the last several decades, but is now being seen as a vital tool in the games industry and independent game development scene. While research into PCG has become a lively area over the past decade, there remains a gap between how researchers conceptualise and approach PCG and how artists and designers actually use it. In this talk I will explore this gap through the use of metaphor and interviews with practitioners on the front lines using PCG, taking inspiration from movements such as critical design to provoke new avenues for research and to present ideas for how to create richer collaborations between academia and industry.

Rilla Khaled is an associate professor at the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta and has a PhD in Computer Science from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Her research focuses on how to design more effective and meaningful serious and persuasive games, the interactions between games, gamification, and culture, how to adapt game design methods to foster creativity and design diversity, and game design and AI. She is currently the lead game designer for the EU FP7-funded ILearnRW project, one of several large-scale projects involving procedural and adaptive game design she has been a designer for. Her current personal research project, REFLECT, introduces reflective game design, an alternative approach to the design, deconstruction and interpretation of play experiences. With a background in software engineering and cross-cultural psychology, Rilla's interests extend from the software-level design and development of games up to their higher level effects on and as cultural practices.

Thorsten Quandt

Department of Communication, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany

The social fabric of virtual life: Social-scientific research on the use and effects of digital games, August 27 PDF talk slides

Abstract: Digital Games are a highly controversial topic in the public debate: Violent content is supposed to be harmful to minors, and some game mechanics are said to make users addicted to the respective titles. Overall, the reputation of digital games as a hobby is not the best.

Some of the rather negative assumptions are based on a blurred picture of social-scientific and psychological findings regarding the use and effects of games. In contrast to these superficial assumptions of simple effects, current empirical research draws a much more detailed and complex picture of the (social) use of digital games.

In his keynote, Thorsten Quandt will give an introduction to user oriented research, and he will present recent findings from his own research group at the University Münster, including studies on violent content, addiction, and the everyday (social) life of the users.

Bio: Thorsten Quandt is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Münster, Germany. 

His research and teaching fields include online communication, digital games and journalism. 
He is the founding chair of the working group “Digital Games Research” of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), a member of the Executive Board of ECREA, a board member of the journals 'Communication Theory' and 'Digital Journalism', and an ERC Grant Holder (European Excellency Programme) with the project “The social foundations of online gaming”.

He published more than 100 scientific articles and several books. His work appeared in leading scientific journals (inlcuding Addiction, Psychological Assessment, Cyberpsychology, Human Communciation Research, New Media and Society, Games and Culture, and the Journal of Children and Media), and it was awarded with several scientific prizes, including various international Top Paper Awards and the dissertation award of the DGPuK.

Jochen Peketz

Blue Byte GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany

Human Computer √Game Interaction, August 28

Abstract: Since the dawn of computer games there have always been controls! Right from the beginning to the present there were new interaction concepts and requirements. And this development will continue in the future. Due to the evolution game and interface design faces new possibilities but also restrictions. A gamut will be span from OXO (1952) along classic arcade games like Pong (1972) up to current products like Sophia (2013) that uses eyetracking as interaction device. How is data in games manipulated by input? Which consequences are to be expected when using different systems? The talk gives an overview of the development and takes exemplary input concepts to show advantages and disadvantages.

Bio: Jochen Peketz is a Games Lab Manager at Blue Byte, responsible for building testing infrastructure for games including Social Settlers (Facebook), The Settlers of Tandria (iPad), Anno 2070 (PC), Rabbids Travel in Time (Wii), and Assassin's Creed: Black Flag. Prior to his work as lab manager, he was the lead level designer on Settlers VII. Peketz has been in the games industry since 1999; his other titles include the Spellforce series and Gothic I and II, and also worked at Bristein Verlags GmbH as editor for several console game magazines. He is also a brewer apprentice, and has background in the pharmaceutical sciences.

Mark Riedl

School of Interactive Computing, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Narrative, August 29 PDF talk slides

Abstract: Interactive narrative is a form of digital interactive experience in which users create or influence a dramatic storyline through actions, either by assuming the role of a character in a fictional virtual world, issuing commands to computer-controlled characters, or directly manipulating the fictional world state. Often considered the “holy grail” of interactive entertainment, interactive narrative can benefit from artificial intelligence. In this talk, I present AI techniques for reasoning about, creating, and managing narratives to augment players’ experiences in virtual worlds. Story generation is the search for a sequence of events that possesses narrative properties and satisfy an author’s intentions. I show how story generation can be used to create possible narrative branches in response to player actions. Once a branching narrative structure exists, a drama manager agent can monitor the virtual world and intervene to drive the narrative forward according to some model of quality of experience. I will present work on learning players’ preferences so that a drama manager can attempt to optimize player enjoyment. Because storytelling is inherently a creative task, I will discuss how the pursuit of story generation and interactive narrative is driving our understanding of what it means for computers to express creativity. Finally, I will conclude with thoughts on the future of interactive narrative and Game AI.

Bio: Dr. Mark Riedl is an Associate Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing and director of the Entertainment Intelligence Lab. Dr. Riedl’s research focuses on the intersection of artificial intelligence, virtual worlds, and storytelling. The principle research question his lab addresses is: how can intelligent computational systems reason about and create engaging experiences for users of virtual worlds and computer games. Dr. Riedl explores this question in two ways. First, he seeks to understand how computational systems can represent, reason about, and create narratives and interactive stories. Second, he seeks to understand how computational systems can autonomously design computer games. Dr. Riedl earned a PhD degree in 2004 from North Carolina State University. From 2004 to 2007, Dr. Riedl was a Research Scientist at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. Dr. Riedl joined the Georgia Tech College of Computing in 2007. His research is supported by the NSF, DARPA, ONR, the U.S. Army, U.S. Health and Human Services, Disney, and Google. He is the recipient of a DARPA Young Faculty Award and an NSF CAREER Award.

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