Professor A.I.???

Oh boy, has it been a while since I posted…I’m not very good at this “2 times a month” thing, am I? To update you quickly on my life, I submitted some academic papers to various journals and conferences. Some were rejected (as is life), and some were accepted!  The first two projects were the Open Data and the Player Persona papers I mentioned in previous posts. Those were both sent to an academic journal called TCAIG (Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games). So far the Player Persona paper was accepted, and a link will be posted once the paper is fully edited! The third paper I authored was accepted to the CIG (Computational Intelligence in Games) conference which will take place this month in NYC. This paper concerned itself with a framework called General Video Game Artificial Intelligence (or GVG-AI for short. Check it out the system here). For this project, my colleague Ahmed Khalifa (his website), Diego Perez-Liebana (his website), Julian Togelius (his website) and I built a system which can create brand new video games. Read about it here!

The “Freeway” game from the GVGAI framework

A lot of people often ask me what exactly my research might entail, and I figured that I’d take this post to explain what I am currently doing. Ahmed, Gabriella Barros (her twitter), Julian and I also wrote a paper about automated tutorial generation. It was recently accepted to a conference workshop called EXAG (Experimental AI in Games), which might play a major role in my eventual thesis writing.  Here is that paper. I’ll be headed to Utah in October to present the paper, wish me luck!

To summarize, we believe that AI has been used for several roles commonly in research such as content-creator, player, and student. Naturally, there are more obscure roles that don’t fit into these categories. We suggested a new role that has not been proposed yet: that of a teacher. The problem is: If I have a game, can I generate a way to teach you, the player, how to play it?

Our proposal is just the beginning of a long-term project, in which we see much more research being done. A lot of the background material I’ve been reading up on is related to tutorials. For a really good explanation of tutorial types, check out this blog post by Ahmed, which is an excerpt of the background section of the paper. But recently I’ve found myself learning about learning. Here are a few questions that have been swimming around my head:

What can people learn from games?

How do people learn from games?

How effective can games teach?

Can I teach you something in a game which you can use in a different context?

My hypothesis is that an AI created by researchers with no domain knowledge about how the human mind learns, at least in a very general sense, won’t be nearly as effective in creating tutorials than one made with people well-versed about it. So, I’m doing my best to catch up on the last 20 years of learning/game discovery. I’m currently reading “Learning by Playing: Video Gaming in Education” edited by Fran C. Blumberg, and I’m not nearly far enough to give an honest review, but so far it’s been very helpful. On my list of things to read include…

  • Sandford, Richard, and Ben Williamson. “Games and learning.” A handbook. Bristol, UK: FutureLab (2005).
  • Shute, Valerie J., Lloyd Rieber, and Richard Van Eck. “Games… and… learning.” Trends and issues in instructional design and technology 3 (2011).
  • Squire, Kurt. Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age. Technology, Education–Connections (the TEC Series). Teachers College Press. 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, 2011.
  • Kafai, Yasmin B. “Playing and making games for learning: Instructionist and constructionist perspectives for game studies.” Games and culture 1.1 (2006): 36-40.
  • Gee, James Paul. “What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy.” Computers in Entertainment (CIE) 1.1 (2003): 20-20.

…just to name a few (out of the hundreds that exist).

If you have any papers or books you would recommend reading, I would love suggestions!

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