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Mechanizing Exploratory Game Design with Formal Design Space Models

Adam Smith ( University of Washington )

Game designers grapple with an interestingly indirect problem: they directly manipulate games, but they wish to shape the space of play those games afford. This phenomenon is particularly critical for games intending to make external impact (e.g., in educational games) where the impact by/on players happens primarily during interactive play as opposed to passive perception. By capturing a designer's working knowledge in a formal design space model, we uncover significant opportunities to mechanize the exploratory design process with the help of automated reasoning tools. In this talk, I describe applications of answer set programming (ASP, a constraint logic programming paradigm focused on difficult combinatorial search and optimization problems) and related technologies (such a symbolic model checking) to modeling the design spaces underlying several synthesis and analysis tools required by our ongoing, large-scale educational game development projects. This work sheds new light on the nature of design problems in interactive domains and suggests an impactful way of applying automation to overcome bottlenecks in the creative design process.

Speaker bio

Adam Smith is a postdoctoral researcher in computer science with the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington. Before joining CGS, he graduated from UC Santa Cruz where he was part of the Expressive Intelligence Studio, an AI+Art+Design lab. His research aims to accelerate the exploratory design process by applying the resources of artificial intelligence to insights from design studies. At CGS he applies this to the development of generative and adaptive systems for original educational games that intend to present an appropriate experience for each unique player.

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