Game Research

Blog by the game research group

UX of AI in games workshop at FDG2019

We are organizing another AI & Games focussed workshop at this year’s Foundations of Digital Games conference:
2019 Workshop on User Experience of Artificial Intelligence in Games @ FDG

How do players experience Artificial Intelligence (AI) in games? How do they feel about the AI, and how is what the AI does communicated to the player? Is there interaction with the AI, and if so, who takes the lead? Is this a social experience, a believable one? Is the AI creative, or at least perceived as such? And finally, is the AI making the game experience better?

AIs fill many roles in games, from companions to antagonists, from storytellers to architects and game testers. With all the recent focus and technical advances in AI this is likely to increase, and the recent popularity of artificial intelligence is moving AIs to the foreground of games. This raises many questions — and in this workshop, we want to look at those surrounding the player’s user experience with artificial intelligence in its many forms.
The 2019 Workshop on User Experience and Artificial Intelligence encompasses the intersection between UX and AI as it manifests in games. We wish to act as a point of interaction between researchers specialized within these fields, in the hope that this will help facilitate research that allows for the creation of more interesting and robust AI-based game experiences.

This workshop aims to build a community centered on this by putting forward demonstrations of work in the integration of these two areas, as well as models and theories that can be used to create understanding where the areas intersect. We especially welcome demonstrations of work in progress or work showcasing new ideas. We are interested in realized prototypes, demons and applications — especially designed created to explore hypotheses. We are also open to philosophical and humanities-based approaches and provocative ideas.

The workshop is co-located and organized with the 2019 Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) conference in San Luis Obispo, California, USA (August 26-30, 2019).

Here is the full CFP:
Call for Papers to the 2019 Workshop on User Experience of Artificial Intelligence in Games @ FDG

Best Full Paper Award at ICIDS 2018

Re-Tellings: The Fourth Layer of Narrative as an Instrument for Critique by Mirjam Palosaari Eladhari was awarded the Best Full Paper Award at the 11th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2018, Dublin, Ireland, December 5–8, 2018.


The fourth layer of narrative in Interactive Narrative Systems (INS), such as games, is the players’ re-tellings of the stories they have experienced when playing. The occurrence of re-tellings can be considered as an indicator for a well designed INS and as an instrument of critique – the experiences of play are important and memorable to such a degree to the players that they find them worthy to tell others about. The notion of the fourth layer is added to the structural model of IN Systems having (1) a base architectural layer giving conditions for a (2) second layer of narrative design, while a (3) third layer is the narrative discourse – eg. the unique, session-specific played or traversed sequences of events. In relation to this, the Story Construction model is described.

DiGRA 2018 Proceedings Online

The  Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message are now online at the DiGRA Digital Library.

Here is a direct link to what I presented in Italy in July:

There are also a few slides available from the talk I gave here:


The Impact of Design approaches presented at Making Games Seminar in Tampere

Petri Lankoski and I presented the working paper “The Impact of Design Approaches” at the 14th  Game Research Lab Spring Seminar “Making Games” in Tampere in April.  Our working paper maps and examines the impact of different design approaches, illustrating and demonstrating the mapping by giving concrete example from three game design case studies

The setup of the seminar is such that the participants read each others papers before the event, and then spend ample time for each paper at the seminar to give constructive feedback and commentary.

I made some watercolor notes at the seminar:

Day 1 part 1

Day 1 part 2

Day 2 part 1

Day 2 part 2


AI-Driven Game Design

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a crucial tool and often part of innovative game designs. AI in games needs to be integrated in the design to not only encompass agents, or other tools, but also tie into the architecture of a game, both in terms of world-building, such as physics in the world, as well as the rules of the game. Together this creates the game mechanics, which may result in different play dynamics depending on how it is played.

When AI and game design is modelled and developed in tandem, the level of innovation is often increased: an innovative game design may need a new type of AI architecture, and vice versa. AI as a driver for game design is gaining traction in the research community, and is sometimes referred to as “AI based game design”, “AI-assisted game design” and at other times “AI driven game design”.

Here are a few text where we have tried to describe this emerging field:

Technical Report: USCS-SOE-11-27: AI-Based Game Design: Enabling New Playable Experiences Mirjam P. Eladhari, Anne Sullivan, Gillian Smith, Josh McCoy, University of California Santa Cruz, December 2011

AI-Based Game Design Patterns, Treanor, M., Zook, A., Eladhari, M.P., Togelius, J., Smith, G., Cook, M., Thompson, T., Magerko, M., Levine, J., Smith, A. Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Monterey, CA, June 22-25, 2015.

AI-Based Games: Contrabot and What Did You Do? Cook, M., Eladhari, M.P., Smith, A., Smith, G., Thompson, T., Togelius, J. and Zook, A. Playable Demo Track, Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Monterey, CA, June 22-25, 2015.

PCG-Based Game Design Patterns, Cook,M., Eladhari, M., Nealen, A., Treanor, M., Boxerman, E., Jaffe, A., Sottosanti, P., Swink, S. CoRR abs/1610.03138 (2016)

Game AI (artificial intelligence) for storytelling through play

In story-making games, players create stories together by using narrative tokens. Often there is a tension between players playing to win using the rules of a story-making game, and collaboratively creating a good story. 4Scribes is a competitive story-making game  coupled with computational methods intended to be used for both supporting players’ creativity and narrative coherence. It was developed within the frame of the The C2Learn project which was supported by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme.



Keywords: Computational creativity, co-creation, interactive narrative, story-making games, game AI

More information:

On how to install and play the game:
Web-page about the game at the C2Learn website.

A paper focussing on the aspects of designing story making games using methods for computational creativity:
Interweaving Story Coherence and Player Creativity through Story-making Games, Eladhari M.P., Lopes P, and Yannakakis G. The Seventh International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling: Singapore, 3-6 November 2014. Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8832, 2014, pp 73-80.