February 28, 2012

Computational Narrative and Games T-CIAIG Issue

from Post Position
by @ 11:04 am

IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games (T-CIAIG)

Call for papers: Special Issue on Computational Narrative and Games

Special issue editors: Ian Horswill, Nick Montfort and R. Michael Young

Stories in both their telling and their hearing are central to human experience, playing an important role in how humans understand the world around them. Entertainment media and other cultural artifacts are often designed around the presentation and experience of narrative. Even in video games, which need not be narrative, the vast majority of blockbuster titles are organized around some kind of quest narrative and many have elaborate stories with significant character development. Games, interactive fiction, and other computational media allow the dynamic generation of stories through the use of planning techniques, simulation (emergent narrative), or repair techniques. These provide new opportunities, both to make the artist’s hand less evident through the use of aleatory and/or automated methods and for the audience/player to more actively participate in the creation of the narrative.

February 26, 2012

Codings

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by @ 5:24 pm

Codings shows the computer as an aesthetic, programmed device that computes on characters. The works in the show continue and divert the traditions of concrete poetry and short-form recreational programming; they eschew elaborate multimedia combinations and the use of network resources and instead operate on encoded letters, numbers, punctuation, and other symbols that are on the computer itself.

////////////////////////// Giselle Biguelman
///////////////////////// Commodore Business Machines, Inc.
//////////////////////// Adam Parrish
/////////////////////// Jörg Piringer
////////////////////// Casey Reas
///////////////////// Páll Thayer

Curated by Nick Montfort
Pace Digital Gallery

Feb 28th – March 30th, 2012 (with regular gallery hours Mon-Thu 12-5pm).

February 24, 2012

Getting Started with ABL

While I have been advocating the use of reactive planning for over a year now, there is often a large amount of middleware between a game environment and the reactive planning agent that needs to be defined in order to make use of ABL in games. The goal of this article is to provide a tutorial for interfacing a game environment with a simple ABL agent.

February 23, 2012

Snyder Winder

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by @ 11:22 am

Leonardo Flores presents his “Taroko Gary,” a mash-up remix of Gary Snyder’s “Endless Streams and Mountains” and my “Taroko Gorge.” (Update: I changed the URL on February 28, 2012.)

A Panel on Digital Sound, Poems, and Art

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by @ 8:47 am

We talked about digital sound as well as some poetic and visual art matters on a panel on Feb 15 here at MIT with David Cossin, Ben Hogue, yours truly (Nick Montfort), Evan Ziporyn, and Joe Paradiso … backed for a while by ppg256-3:

February 21, 2012

Prom Week’s “Social Exchanges”

To celebrate Prom Week’s release on on Facebook and Kongegrate, we thought we’d share some of the details about what’s going on inside of the heads of Prom Week characters.

As we’ve posted before, Prom Week is a game where the player gets to shape the social lives of 18 highschoolers by controlling what social actions they take with one another. What each character wants to do, and how each character chooses to respond, is determined by over 5,000 social considerations.

Graeme Devine Talk Tomorrow at UCSC

Local Santa Cruz game developer and perennial guest speaker Graeme Devine is visiting UCSC tomorrow (Wednesday the 22nd) to give a talk titled “Social Games are DEAD!” In his own words:

Everyone on the planet is rushing to add a social element to their game, picture app, music app, whatever app. Our widely held view of acceptable application development has narrowed to freemium social games that have to monetize. Somewhere along the way we forgot that games should be fun experiences and we became analysts. Let’s talk about that.

February 20, 2012

THIS WEEK: Lisa Nakamura, Thuy Linh Tu, Minh-ha Pham and Dartmouth’s Aimee Bahng!

from tiltfactor
by @ 3:01 pm

This week, the Digital Humanities and Asian American Studies Departments will be hosting a series of events regarding race, technology, and critical studies. 

ON THURSDAY, February 23rd in Carson L02 at 4:30pm, Lisa Nakamura, interdisciplinary scholar of race, gender, new media and cinema, and critical / cultural studies, will be gracing us with her presence with a talk titled “Trash Talk: Instrumental Racism as a Procedural Strategy in Online Games.”

February 17, 2012

Emily Short on Playable Narrative Systems

Interactive story author Emily Short spoke at UC Santa Cruz on Wednesday, as part of the ongoing Inventing the Future of Games speaker series. Emily, best known for her work on groundbreaking interactive fictions such as Galatea and Savoir-Faire, spoke about her recent work with Richard Evans (AI Lead on The Sims 3) developing an interactive story system centered around character and conversation in Jane Austen’s universe. (Emily and Richard’s company, Little Text People, has recently been acquired by Linden Lab; Emily stressed that the ideas presented in the talk represent work done before the acquisition.)

February 16, 2012

Word Palindomes Dog Me. Dawg, Palindromes! Word!

from Post Position
by @ 4:43 pm

Mark J. Nelson has posted a very nice note about word-unit palindromes, mentioning that I have been tweeting palindromes-by-word as “@nickmofo” recently.

Nelson points out the paucity of such palindromes in the printed (and digital) record, and the lack of discussion about these. There are a few famous palindromes of this sort, including one that he mentions, “You can cage a swallow, can’t you, but you can’t swallow a cage, can you?” Another fairly well-known one is “King, are you glad you are king?” and another is “So patient a doctor to doctor a patient so.”

Machinima as a medium by William Wang

from tiltfactor
by @ 9:07 am

Whenever someone mentions the word “video game” in a conversation about art, many common schemas spring to mind. Many consider video games art in and of themselves, though some may disagree. However, most neglect video games’ potential as a tool for creating art. We often think of artistic tools as the paintbrush or chisel or even the mouse or tablet, but rarely do we consider games viable tools. Isn’t that contrary to the notion of a “game?”

February 15, 2012

Be Careful Who Sees You When You Dream…by Hannah Collman

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:58 am

It happens more quickly than we ever anticipated.

Everybody makes jokes about the apocalypse, but it’s not so funny when it shows up in the middle of the night on your back doorstep.

They come in twos. Silently, they assemble in the park, the shopping district, the back alleys of downtown Manhattan, communing…planning… Marking their courses, they disperse in pre-planned regiments to blend themselves in among the people. By the time their surveillance period is finished, they have gathered more than enough information for a successful invasion, and no one will be able to stop them. And what would be the point? After all, they’re only balloons…

February 14, 2012

Taroko Gorge Remixed & Installed

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by @ 4:11 pm

Designer Gulch by Brendan Howell is another remix of my oft-remixed poetry generator, Taroko Gorge. This one is installed in the lobby of the Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule.

Prom Week Released on Facebook!

Delve into all the adolescent angst, drama, and scheming of the week before a high school prom in this online game, which uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence system to enable players to shape the social lives of 18 hapless high school students. Find dates for them, break up and make up, forge new friendships, make enemies — it’s up to you to determine whether the Prom will be a magical wonderland of disco ball lights or a nightmare of existential crises!

Play it now!!!

Walk Like An Avatar, by Goyo

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:56 am

by goyo

BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP!

February 13, 2012

CCS IMR IRQ BBQ

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by @ 4:21 pm

I’ve participated in three conferences on digital and literary and poetic topics recently – and haven’t participated, unfortunately, in a barbecue.

The Critical Code Studies (CCS) Working Group 2012 is an online discussion – or, I suppose, several discussions – that started on January 30 and runs until February 20. It’s organized by Jeremy Douglass and Mark C. Marino.

At In Media Res, a project of MediaCommons, I was part of the digital literature discussion last week. This was organized by Eric LeMay.

Humanities-Based Game Design

Prom Week is about to be released and Expressive Processing is about to come out in paperback — a confluence that has me thinking about humanities-based game design, something I’ve been more actively mulling since an NSF workshop on the Future of Research in Computer Games and Virtual Worlds that UCI hosted in 2010.

Obviously I’m not the first person on this scent — on some level people have been discussing humanities-based game design at least since Brenda Laurel’s dissertation. But working on Prom Week helped me realize that I think we need to go beyond “operationalizing” models from the humanities or applying humanities ideas gleaned from studying other media as design heuristics (though these are also important approaches).

The Perception of Perspective: Focus on Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller by Shloka Kini

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:54 am

When first making my way into the world of new media art, my first instinct was to look for works focusing on the computer: coding, languages, digital, analog. Anything apparently technical seemed appropriate. But when digging deeper, I encountered works that seemed reminiscent of those wonderful gadgets and gizmos from Doctor Who, seemingly ordinary objects and structures that became “bigger on the inside” or had “hidden secrets to reveal.” That’s what I found in the works of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.

 

February 12, 2012

Beauty is in the eyes of the gamer, by goyo

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:53 am

In 2005 film critic Roger Ebert set off a cyber lucha libre when he declared, “Video games can never be art.” In his own words, “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of the great poets, filmmakers, and novelists.” Ebert delivered his statement through his Chicago Sun Times blog. Almost immediately, it was countered with a mix of arguments coming from game designers, gamers, critics, and scholars.

February 11, 2012

Is Visual Representation Enough? by Kayla Gilbert

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:52 am

How much influence should aesthetic have when considering new media art? Are pieces that explore a concept through technology with little or no thought to the aesthetic values still considered new media art, or just visual representation of data?

February 10, 2012

“To Learn or To Think: That is the Question” by Shloka Kini

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:55 pm

*Based on artist Ken Feingold’s work If/Then*

Why did he do this? Why did he make me smart? Why did he make me ask questions?

 

Did he realize at the time that he might give me too much? Numbers, sensors, speech, processing…How do people do it? Manage all that information? I don’t think, I analyze.

 

I sit here stuck on a platform, staring at the sky. I can’t even turn around. I’m fixed to stare at the wall in front of me.

 

Artificial Intelligence: Programmed Software or Sentient Beings? By Eric H. Whang

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:51 am

Can artificial intelligence “think” on the same level as human beings? That is a question that has been in debate for decades, since the development of computer programming. Although artificial intelligence started out as a scientific fascination, it has been incorporated into the area of digital art, comprising one of the major themes in this relatively new art form. It may seem strange that something as “scientific” as artificial intelligence can be even remotely related to the term “art”. However, as a part of digital art, artificial intelligence is explored as a type of life form—composed of digital information—that evolves and develops on its own in the framework of specified programs. Many digital art projects addressing artificial life focus on “the inherent characteristics of digital technologies themselves: the possibility of infinite ‘reproduction’ in varying combinations according to specified variables; and the feasibility of programming certain behaviors for so-called ‘autonomous’ information units or characters” (Paul 140).

February 9, 2012

It’s Time: Overthrow Elsevier.

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by @ 5:31 pm

The Boston Globe calls it -publisher/9sCpDEP7BkkX1INfakn3NL/story.html">the scientific community’s Arab Spring. Perhaps the comparison is bombastic, but this issue actually goes beyond science. It’s a question of whether the results of our research, scholarship, and critical writing as academics will be held hostage from our own universities and completely locked away from the public view, or whether we can put aside the artificial scarcity of information that commercial publishers have created and foster better, open communications.

Our colleagues in the sciences are the main ones who are taking a stand in this particular case – a boycott of commercial, closed-access publisher Elsevier – but others can stand with them.

If you haven’t, please read about the issue with Elsevier specifically, for instance in the Chronicle and the Guardian. These are good old news stories in which one side says it’s right and then the other side says it’s right, and so on.

The future of game dialogue

Two new pieces of writing this morning have me thinking about the future of game dialogue.

Clint Hocking suggests that our cultural expectations of dialogue need to change — dialogue isn’t bad because it’s written as a way of players coming to understand their impact on the game world. He talks about an “evolution of our cultural sensibilities” that “causes film dialogue to feel strange and old-fashioned” because it isn’t written toward this goal.

That makes sense, but the problem is that canned dialogue, even moreso than canned animation, is going to hit a wall quickly if you actually let players have an impact on the game world.

Prom Week Authoring: Crafting Procedurally-Driven Narratives

Cassandra uses a mismatch between her and Gunter’s feelings about cultural knowledge base items to shoot down his attempt to ask her out.

Hello! I’m Aaron A. Reed, lead writer on Prom Week, and I wanted to talk a bit about the challenges the writing team faced bringing eighteen characters to life during the most exciting week of their lives. (So far, at least… I’m pretty sure Lil is going to go on to do great things.) I’ve previously worked on large-scale interactive stories before, like my 2009 project Blue Lacuna, but Prom Week presented authoring challenges on a whole different level.

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