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GDC 2014: U.S. National Investment in the Future of Games?

At the just-concluded 2014 Game Developers Conference I organized and spoke in a session titled, “U.S. National Investment in the Future of Games?” I was joined by William S. Bainbridge (Program Director for the National Science Foundation), Elaine Raybourn (Principal Member of the Technical Staff in Cognitive Systems at Sandia National Laboratories, on assignment from to the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense), and Jason Rhody (Senior Program Officer for the Office of Digital Humanities in the National Endowment for the Humanities). I’m posting here my slides and notes from the session introduction and my talk, the latter of which focused on three recommendation areas from the Media Systems final report that would benefit from joint effort by federal agencies and the game development community. Read More »

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GDC 2014: Game Grants for Scholars, Librarians, and Artists

This week at GDC I gave a talk as part of the session “Federal Opportunities for Game Faculty and Students.” I was joined by William Bainbridge (Program Director, National Science Foundation) and Jason Rhody (Senior Program Officer, Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities). My presentation focused on my experiences as a Principle Investigator on a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The slides and my talk notes are below. I hope they’re helpful! Read More »

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New Publication: “Envisioning the Future of Computational Media” (Media Systems)

Media Systems logo

Today we are publishing the final report of the Media Systems project — including a set of 12 key recommendations for building the future of computational media.

This report is the result of bringing more than 40 field leaders together for a meeting made possible by an unprecedented set of organizations: the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft Research. We followed the meeting with more than a year of additional analysis, conversation, and writing.

Our report, “Envisioning the Future of Computational Media,” starts with the fact that the future of media is increasingly computational — video games, smartphone apps, ebooks, social media, and more.

As media evolve and change, the stakes are high, on many fronts — from culture and the economy to education and health. Read More »

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March 3rd Deadline: Intelligent Narrative Technologies @ ELO

Call for Participation


• (int)7 Submission deadline: March 3, 2014
• Workshop: June 17-18, 2014, Milwaukee, WI

(int)7 & ELO registration information is now available:

The Intelligent Narrative Technologies (INT) workshop series aims to advance research in artificial intelligence for the computational understanding, expression, and creation of narrative. Previous installments of this workshop have brought together a multidisciplinary group of researchers such as computer scientists, psychologists, narrative theorists, media theorists, artists, and members of the interactive entertainment industry. From this broad expertise, the INT series focuses on computational systems to represent, reason about, adapt, author, and perform interactive and non-interactive narrative experiences.

(int)7, the seventh workshop in the series, will highlight both the computational and aesthetic aspects of narrative systems and the narrative experiences they create. It will be co-located with the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization Conference (ELO 2014) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. ELO is the most significant international organization and conference series for creators and scholars of digital fiction, poetry, and drama. By co-locating with ELO we hope to create an opportunity for greater awareness between the two communities. INT work can be strengthened by awareness of the challenges and goals of authors creating a wide variety of computational literary works, as well as the models being developed by scholars of this work. The ELO community can be strengthened by greater awareness of the types of basic research undertaken and experimental systems created by the INT community, broadening conceptions of the field and imaginations of its possible futures. It is possible that co-location may even result in identifying potential collaborations between members of the two communities. Read More »

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Janet Kolodner on “Cyberlearning: Transforming Education” (Media Systems)

What can transform a field? Janet Kolodner argues, in her talk for the Media Systems gathering, that individual projects are not enough. But programs do potentially offer a route to transformation — by being larger, integrative efforts.

Her talk begins by providing an insider’s discussion of a program with the potential for transforming the field: the Cyberlearning program at the National Science Foundation, for which she is a Program Officer. Then, in the second half, it moves to a discussion of advice for work in cyberlearning. This is not simply a set of things it would be smart to do if applying to Kolodner’s program, but a set of insights into what matters for interdisciplinary work that seeks to transform education. It includes advice on clarifying transformative goals, making sure that the solutions proposed for addressing those goals are socio-technical in nature (not failing to address wider context), and structuring inquiry as design research aimed at addressing questions key to eventually achieving the initially-articulated goal. Read More »

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Lost in the Cloud: File Format Investigations

Any software development process involves a fair amount of extraneous creation. Code is revised, documents created and destroyed, prototypes and demos constructed, all in the pursuit of a final, stable digital object. Digital games add even more to this crush of documentation with an unending multitude of art assets, proprietary file types, and a lack of internal documentation.  Since most development today relies on cloud storage and backup, code repositories and all forms of digital spatio-temporal communication, just finding out where everything is stored necessitates significant technical effort and time.

The team for Prom Week, the object at the heart of my current research for the NEH (info here), made use of numerous cloud services throughout the duration of the project. Fortunately, most of the documents are stored on only two services, Dropbox and Google Docs. Unfortunately, the organization is about as structured as I would expect from a rotating development team with intense time pressures and significant distractions. The Dropbox repository proved particularly onerous for analysis. Each team member had their own individual directory, which usually duplicated some files from another major folder. Aside from duplicates, there is no real structure to the folder names or documentation. This is usually not a problem, however, as Dropbox is searchable and I’m assuming when this folder was active each person responsible for a file knew where and what it was. As an outsider to the Prom Week development process, I can usually ascertain what a document relates to, but that is definitely due to the last few months I’ve spent researching the project.

I’m going to continue the focus on Dropbox for two reasons: first, the Google Documents for the project, while interesting and post-worthy, are only 24 in number and 5 in type, and second, the points I want to make about file extensions and confusion in the cloud are easier to argue when I’m dealing with 1.8 gigabytes of haphazardly organized Dropbox data. Read More »

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