Threadsteading is a two-player territorial control game for quilting and embroidery machines, designed in collaboration with Disney Research Pittsburgh. In Threadsteading, players take on the role of rival scouting commanders tasked with exploring a map. The embroidery machine sews the physical path that players follow, and when the game ends sews the score. The winner takes home the map. Threadsteading won the Technology Award at the IndieCade Festival in 2016, and has been shown at venues including ACM CHI Interactivity, ACM SIGGRAPH Studio, and Alt.Ctrl.GDC in 2016.
Britton Horn, Amy Hoover, Jackie Barnes, Yetunde Folajimi, Gillian Smith, Casper Harteveld. Opening the Black Box of Play: Strategy Analysis of an Educational Game. In Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI Play). Austin, TX, October 16-19, 2016
eBee is an art and research project that merges quilting, game design, and e-textiles. It investigates the opportunity for new kinds of playable and educational experiences to emerge from non-traditional technologies, and questions the role of gender in craft, game, and technology communities. In eBee, players either compete or collaborate to build circuits on a quilted game board using quilt patches that are augmented with channels of conductive fabric. eBee won the Boston Festival of Indie Games Most Innovative Tabletop Game award in 2016, and has been shown at venues including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Indie Arcade, DiGRA Blank Arcade,...
Celia Pearce, Gillian Smith, Jeanie Choi, Isabella Carlsson. eBee: Merging Quilting, Electronics, and Board Game Design. Installation in the Art Show at ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI 2016). San Jose, CA, May 7-12, 2016.
Lea Albaugh, April Grow, Chenxi Liu, James McCann, Jen Mankoff, Gillian Smith. Threadsteading: Playful Interaction for Textile Fabrication Devices. Installation in Interactivity at ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI 2016). San Jose, CA, May 7-12, 2016.
Yetunde Folajimi, Britton Horn, Amy Hoover, Jackie Barnes, Gillian Smith, Casper Harteveld. A cross-cultural evaluation of a computer science teaching game. In Proceedings of Games+Learning+Society 2016. Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press
Britton Horn, Christopher Clark, Oskar Strom, Hilery Chao, Amy J. Stahl, Casper Harteveld, Gillian Smith. 2016. Design Insights into the Creation and Evaluation of a Computer Science Educational Game. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2016), March 2-5, Memphis, TN.
Feminism and Procedural Content Generation: Toward a Collaborative Politics of Computational Creativity
Amanda Phillips, Gillian Smith, Michael Cook, Tanya Short. 2016. Feminism and Procedural Content Generation: Toward a Collaborative Politics of Computational Creativity. Digital Creativity 27:1, 82-97.
Standing on the Shoulders of Citizens: Exploring Gameful Collaboration for Creating Social Experiments
Casper Harteveld, Steven C. Sutherland, Amy J. Stahl, Gillian Smith, Cigdem Talgar. Standing on the Shoulders of Citizens: Exploring Gameful Collaboration for Creating Social Experiments. Proceedings of the 49th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). Kaui, HI, January 5-8, 2016.
Michael Cook, Mirjam Eladhari, Adam Smith, Gillian Smith, Tommy Thompson, Julian Togelius, Alexander Zook. AI-Based Games: Contrabot and What Did You Do? Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Pacific Grove, CA, USA. June 21-26, 2015.
Michael Cook, Gillian Smith, Tommy Thompson, Julian Togelius, Alexander Zook. Hackademics: A Case for Game Jams at Academic Conferences. Proceedings of the Game Jam 2015 Workshop, co-located with Foundations of Digital Games 2015 (FDG 2015). Pacific Grove, CA, June 21-26.
The Quilt Design a Day (QDAD) project, started by Anne Sullivan, was a challenge to design a new quilt every day based on a provided inspiration image and color palette. The Facebook group has quickly grown to over 850 members, with an average of 10 members posting new designs every day. I have participated in QDAD since its inception, and created over 300 unique designs. Many of these designs are experimental in nature, and reflect my interests in using quilts to tell stories, visualize data, and express ideas.
What is the role of procedural content generation in game design? How has this role changed over the last five decades of digital game development? How has procedural content generation manifested in non-digital games throughout history? This ongoing project examines the history of procedural content generation and generative design in games.
Viv is an AI artist that creates small, 3D-printable vases that have been inspired by an image. As a computational creativity research project, it investigates how to believably model creative inspiration across media: just as a human sculptor may be inspired by a photograph of a scene, or a human painter may be inspired by a piece of music, how can an AI capture the aesthetic characteristics and qualities from one creative domain and transfer them to new artifacts in a different domain? The Viv project also aims to examine how humans interact with an AI artist.
Hoopla is a system that procedurally generates embroidery designs in the style of traditional cross-stitch samplers. It pulls quotes from the internet, generates motifs and images to surround those quotes, and attempts to mimic the layout of a traditional sampler. The project is currently in a prototype phase, with plans to add more functionality and have the system generate designs that can be both created by humans and machine-stitched on an embroidery machine.
GrACE is an educational puzzle game that aims to teach computational thinking. The puzzles are procedurally generated, allowing share strategies for solving the puzzles with other players without giving each other the answer, as well as to experiment with different puzzles at a similar difficulty level. The puzzles and mechanics are designed around the classical computer science problem of finding the minimum spanning tree of a graph. This project is part of the larger Gram’s House project, a collaboration between Northeastern University, Carleton University, Kean College, and Arizona State University. GrACE is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Mad Science is a game and research platform in which players can create their own scientific experiments in the form of social scenarios. This is a work-in-progress project with a large interdisciplinary team of faculty and students at Northeastern University. An important offshoot of the Mad Science project is a set of custom scenarios designed to help self-represented parties represent themselves in civil court, in partnership with Connecticut Statewide Legal Services and funded by the Legal Services Corporation.
With the growth in popularity of procedural content generation, it is important for us to be able to measure not only the quantity of a generator’s output but also it’s quality. It is easy to claim that a generator produces thousands of unique artifacts; it is harder to evaluate how similar or different these artifacts from each other. This ongoing research project looks at methods for evaluating and comparing content generators in terms of qualities of their outputs: the range of content that can be made, how controllable that range is, and how that range compares to that of other...
Gillian Smith. An Analog History of Procedural Content Generation. Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Monterey, CA, June 22-25, 2015. Nominated for best paper award; nominations given to top 18.9% of papers in conference.
Michael Cook, Gillian Smith. Formalizing Non-Formalism: Breaking the Rules of Automated Game Design. Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Monterey, CA, June 22-25, 2015. Winner of Best Paper in Game Design track; nominations given to top 18.9% of papers in conference.
Alessandro Canossa, Gillian Smith. Towards a Procedural Evaluation Technique: Metrics for Level Design. Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Monterey, CA, June 22-25, 2015.
Mike Treanor, Alex Zook, Mirjam P Eladhari, Julian Togelius, Gillian Smith, Michael Cook, Tommy Thompson, Brian Magerko, John Levine, Adam Smith. AI-Based Game Design Patterns. Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015). Monterey, CA, June 22-25, 2015.
Britton Horn, Gillian Smith, Rania Masri, Janos Stone. Visual Information Vases: Towards a Framework for Transmedia Creative Inspiration. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Computational Creativity (ICCC 2015). Park City, UT, June 29 – July 2, 2015.
Casper Harteveld, Steven C. Sutherland, Gillian Smith. Design Considerations for Creating Game-Based Social Experiments. Proceedings of the 2015 CHI Workshop on Gamifying Research (GAMICHI 15), co-located with the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Seoul, Korea. April 18, 2015.
This talk from Different Games 2015 was part of a panel presentation along with Amanda Phillips, Tanya Short, and Michael Cook. The panel prompt was: “can computers be feminists?” In this talk, I argue that computers cannot be feminists because artificial intelligence lacks empathy, but that as designers we have a responsibility to ensure that the algorithms we create are imbued with the knowledge required to behave as though they are feminists.
Steven C. Sutherland, Casper Harteveld, Gillian Smith, Joseph Schwartz, Cigdem Talgar. Exploring Digital Games as a Research and Educational Platform for Replicating Experiments. Proceedings of the 2015 Northeast Decision Sciences Conference (NEDSI 15). Cambridge, MA, March 20-22, 2015. Recipient of David M. Levine Best Paper in Innovative Education Award.
This talk was given at the Education Summit at the 2015 Game Developers Conference. In it, Jane Pinckard and I advocate for treating issues of diversity and inclusion throughout a game curriculum, rather than in a single dedicated course. We offer strategies that have worked in our own courses for introducing and discussing these complex issues.
This talk was given at the 2015 AI Summit at the Game Developers Conference. Julian Togelius and I were asked to give a 40 minute overview of academic research in procedural content generation. It outlines several technical approaches to PCG with their implementation tradeoffs, identifies ways in which it can be used in design, and poses questions about how to evaluate it.
Collaboration is a quilt that was designed in collaboration between myself and a piece of software I created. The software, named Foundry, procedurally generates paper piecing patterns according to parameters that can be tweaked by the user, such as number of blocks, amount of sashing between blocks, and block rotation. The resulting design was one that I would never have thought of myself, yet was created by software I wrote. The process of creating the physical quilt took several days, after a design-process that took only a few minutes of back-and-forth “negotiation” with the machine.
This talk from the 2014 procedural content generation game jam advocates for participants to think more broadly about the consequences of what they will make and encourages wild experimentation, to help us move to the future of procedural content generation.
In the last two months, there has been a marked upswing in public attacks against people, mostly women, who have either spoken out about sexism in games and the games industry or who want to make games that are a bit different from what is available to us now. My gut response to this phenomenon has been a combination of anger and helplessness. These attacks have even bubbled up to public discourse in recent weeks, which I fear has had the depressing effect of sending us back 30 years in the eyes of the general public.
Gillian Smith. The Future of Procedural Content Generation in Games. Proceedings of the AIIDE Workshop on Experimental AI in Games, co-located with Artificial Intelligence in Interactive Digital Entertainment 2014, Raleigh, NC, October 4 2014.
Yesterday was our first day of classes at Northeastern. So over the last week, I’ve been tweaking my syllabus for Game Artificial Intelligence. Adjusting assignments that didn’t work well last year, adding in time for discussion on concepts that needed more time, agonizing over what to remove. It’s one of the hardest parts of teaching: identifying and making time for what is important.
Gillian Smith. “Procedural Everything”: Playing Procedural Content Generation in Spore. Well-Played Symposium, co-located with the Digital Games Research Association Conference (DiGRA 2014), Snowbird, UT, August 3-6, 2014.
Foundry is a quilt generator, which was the basis of the program used to design Collaboration. It generates patterns that are guaranteed to be piece-able using foundation paper piecing. The user can interact with Foundry to tell it to generate new quilts according to new parameters, such as rotating blocks, changing the number of blocks, and resizing the sashing between blocks.
Casper Harteveld, Gillian Smith, Gail Carmichael, Elisabeth Gee, Carolee Stewart-Gardiner. A Design-Focused Analysis of Games Teaching Computer Science. Proceedings of Games+Learning+Society 10, Madison, WI, USA, June 10-13, 2014.
Gillian Smith. Understanding Procedural Content Generation: A Design-Centric Analysis of the Role of PCG in Games. Proceedings of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2014), Toronto, Canada, April 26-May 1, 2014.
Women of the Periodic Table is a quilt designed for the 2014 Cambridge Science Festival’s “Central Elements” show. It showcases the five women who contributed to the discovery of elements on the periodic table: Marie Curie, Berta Karlik, Lise Meitner, Ida Noddack, and Marguerite Perey. The quilt is designed to showcase each woman’s portrait, and show them linked together in sisterhood. The geometric shapes are designed to be reminiscent of molecules, and colors map to the atomic numbers and weights of the elements each woman helped to discover. This project was done in collaboration with Maia Weinstock.
Britton Horn, Steve Dahlskog, Noor Shaker, Gillian Smith, Julian Togelius. A Comparative Evaluation of Level Generators in the Mario AI Framework. Proceedings of the 2014 Foundations of Digital Games Conference (FDG 2014), Fort Lauderdale, FL, April 3-7, 2014.
While taking a Learning to Draw course at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, we had a class on perspective drawing. I decided to make a little toy to understand the rules of two-point perspective a bit better, without needing to worry about drawing all the perspective guidelines by hand yet.
Gillian Smith. An Analysis of the Role of Procedural Content Generation in Game Design. Proceedings of the 2013 Digital Games Research Association Conference (DIGRA 2013), Atlanta, GA, August 26-29, 2013.
At the Procedural Content Generation workshop held with FDG this year, I had the pleasure of being on a panel talking about evaluation methods in PCG, alongside Julian Togelius, Staffan Bjork, and Adam Smith. As part of preparing for the panel, I quickly put together a list of questionable claims that I frequently see in PCG papers (including my own!) as a starting point for talking about evaluation: what should we be evaluating? how do we compare our work? how do we know if we are getting better at PCG? what does it mean to get “better” at it? do...
Gillian Smith, Casper Harteveld. Procedural Content Generation as an Opportunity to Foster Collaborative Mindful Learning. Proceedings of the Workshop on Games for Learning, co-located with Foundations of Digital Games 2013, Chania, Crete, May 16, 2013.
Endless Web is a game that explores how procedural content generation can enable entirely new kinds of games. It is a PCG-based game: one in which the generator is so closely tied to both the mechanics and aesthetics of the game that player strategies revolve around it. The game was also created to help us understand Launchpad’s expressive capabilities and better understand its strengths and weaknesses for use in a complete, polished game. This project studies how the PCG system affords certain mechanics and aesthetics in the game, and how the game imposes additional requirements on the PCG system. There...
Gillian Smith, Anne Sullivan. The Five Year Evolution of a Game Programming Course. Proceedings of the 43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2012), Raleigh, NC, February 29 – March 3, 2012.
Tanagra is a prototype mixed-initiative design tool for 2D platformer level design, in which a human and computer work together to produce a level. The human designer can place constraints on a continuously running level generator, in the form of exact geometry placement and manipulation of the level’s pacing. The computer can fill in the rest of the level with geometry that guarantees playability, alter existing geometry to meet the new cosntraints, or inform the designer that there is no level that meets their requirements. This work was supervised by Jim Whitehead and Michael Mateas, as part of my PhD...
Gillian Smith, Ryan Anderson, Brian Kopleck, Zach Lindblad, Lauren Scott, Adam Wardell, Jim Whitehead, Michael Mateas. Situating Quests: Design Patterns for Quest and Level Design in Role-Playing Games. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2011),Vancouver, Canada, November 28 – December 1, 2011.
Mirjam P. Eladhari, Anne Sullivan, Gillian Smith, Josh McCoy. AI-Based Game Design: Enabling New Playable Experiences. Technical Report UCSC-SOE-11-27, 2011.
Anne Sullivan, Gillian Smith. Lessons from COSMOS: Four Years of Iteration on a Game Design Course. Technical Report UCSC-SOE-11-15, 2011.
Gillian Smith. Human-Computer Collaboration in Level Design for Computer Games. Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2011, Portland, OR, November 9 – 11, 2011.
Gillian Smith, Jim Whitehead, Michael Mateas. Computers as Design Collaborators: Interacting with Mixed-Initiative Tools. Workshop on Semi-Automated Creativity, co-located with ACM Creativity & Cognition 2011. Atlanta, GA, November 3, 2011.
Noor Shaker, Julian Togelius, Georgios N. Yannakakis, Ben Weber, Tomoyuki Shimizu, Tomonori Hashiyama, Nathan Sorenson, Philippe Pasquier, Peter Mawhorter, Glen Takahashi, Gillian Smith, Robin Baumgarten. The 2010 Mario AI Championship: Level Generation Track. IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games (TCIAIG), vol 3. iss 4, 2011.
Gillian Smith, Jim Whitehead, Michael Mateas. Tanagra: Reactive Planning and Constraint Solving for Mixed-Initiative Level Design. IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games (TCIAIG), Special Issue on Procedural Content Generation, vol 3. iss. 3, September 2011.
Gillian Smith, Elaine Gan, Alexei Othenin-Girard, Jim Whitehead. PCG-Based Game Design: Enabling New Play Experiences through Procedural Content Generation. Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Procedural Content Generation in Games (PCGames 2011), Bordeaux, France, June 28, 2011.
Gillian Smith, Jim Whitehead, Michael Mateas, Mike Treanor, Jameka March, Mee Cha. Launchpad: A Rhythm-Based Level Generator for 2D Platformers. IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games (TCIAIG), vol. 3, iss. 1, March 2011.
Martin Jennings-Teats, Gillian Smith, Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Polymorph: A Model for Dynamic Level Generation. Proceedings of the 2010 Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2010), Palo Alto, CA, October 11 – 13.
Gillian Smith, Jim Whitehead, Michael Mateas. Tanagra: An Intelligent Level Design Assistant for 2D Platformers. Proceedings of the 2010 Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2010), Palo Alto, CA, October 11 – 13.
Martin Jennings-Teats, Gillian Smith, Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Polymorph: Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment Through Level Generation. Proceedings of the Workshop on Procedural Content Generation in Games, co-located with FDG 2010, Monterey, CA, June 18, 2010.
Gillian Smith, Jim Whitehead. Analyzing the Expressive Range of a Level Generator. Proceedings of the Workshop on Procedural Content Generation in Games, co-located with FDG 2010, Monterey, CA, June 18, 2010.
Launchpad uses a grammar-based method for automatically generating levels for Mario-style platformers based on rhythms that the player feels with his hands. A designer has some input to the generator in the form of parameters that specify the general path that the level should follow, and the frequency at which different level components should occur.
The goal of this project was to make computer science more engaging for introductory programming students through the use of computer game technology. We deployed a set of assignments based on a Virtual Pets game, where the students could exercise their creativity by programming different scenes and pet behaviors.
Gillian Smith, Jim Whitehead, Charlie McDowell. Using Game Technology in an Introductory Programming Course. Poster at IGDA Education Special Interest Group. GDC 2008, San Francisco, CA. March 2008.