Computer Science

Computer Science Seminar: Dr. Ben Samuel

Computer Science Seminar: Dr. Ben Samuel

Host: Michael Neff

When: Wednesday, February 15th at 3:10pm

Where: 1131 Kemper Hall

Talk Title: Crafting Stories Through Play

Abstract: Game development is a powerful platform for both technological innovation and artistic expression. Some games, known as interactive narratives, allow players to chart a course through a space of possible stories. These stories, however, are largely written by the game makers, and ask only for players to choose between pre-authored content, rather than tell stories themselves. The expressive possibilities of story games can be enhanced with artificial intelligence systems by simulating dynamic characters, formulating dramatic construction, and more. Innovative technologies in artificial intelligence and game design–with particular emphasis on the award winning games Prom Week and Bad News–that provide players authorial affordances over the game narrative are discussed, enabling players to be storycrafters in their own right.

Bio: Ben Samuel is a computer science researcher, an award winning game designer, and a professional actor whose performance has been lauded by the New York Times. Though fascinated by all games centered research, his primary focus is on artificial intelligence systems that advance the state of the art of interactive storytelling. Notable works include the social simulation game Prom Week (a finalist for technical excellence in the 2012 Independent Games Festival), CiF and the Ensemble Engine (AI frameworks for developing socially dynamic characters whose metaphors have informed projects promoting conflict resolution and good stranger techniques), and Bad News (a game combining world generation, social simulation, and live performance; winner of the 2016 IndieCade Audience Choice award). His research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, and he was a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Ben recently earned his PhD in Computer Science at the University of California Santa Cruz, and is presently a postdoctoral scholar researching rhetorically driven game generation.

1131 Kemper Hall

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