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MazeStar Computing Workshops

Our aim: 

We offer workshops that provide opportunities to middle and high school students to:

·              learn computer science in fun, exciting, relevant ways and

·              develop self-images as computer scientists.

​We approach STEM education and access to high quality, relevant learning opportunities as a social justice issue of our time, this includes taking an anti-deficit ideological stance on students and their achievement. We start with student identified relevant themes, questions, challenges, and goals and see who students are and what they bring to the table as assets, important and rich resources to draw on. We utilize aspects of the nationally recognized Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum to spark student excitement about computing and focus on bringing the culture into the fabric of computing practice. We utilize a custom-made digital platform called MazeStar that allows students to explore their ideas while learning about human-computer interaction, web design, privacy, coding, debugging, and more. A component of MazeStar is a game-like programming environment called Mazzy in which students learn the building blocks of coding.

 

 
Empowering Research Objectives

Associated Project: 
Advanced Identity Representation (AIR) Project

Chimeria: Gatekeeper

Introduction

Chimeria: Gatekeeper is a playable interactive conversational scenario, authored using the Chimeria Platform It uses a cognitive science-grounded model of social category membership to customize how conversational narratives unfold. Conversations between characters are important aspects of many videogames. However, most such conversational interactions in videogames are quite limited in how they take into account the identities of those characters. Conversation in videogames typically varies, if at all, based only on one aspect of the character such as an NPC referring to the character by race, class, or a gendered pronoun. Chimeria: Gatekeeper is an application of the Chimeria Platform, which seeks to developing conversational narratives that addresses such limitations.    

Associated Project: 
Chimeria

Puzzlescript AI

Introduction

We present an approach for automated evaluation and generation of videogames made with PuzzleScript, a description-based scripting language for authoring games, which was created by game designer Stephen Lavelle. We have developed a system that automatically discovers solutions for a multitude of videogames that each possess different game mechanics, rules, level designs, and win conditions. This was achieved by developing a set of general ruleset heuristics to assess the playability of a game based on its game mechanics. From the results of our approach, we showcase that a description-based language enables the development of general methods for automatically evaluating games authored with it. Additionally, we illustrate how an evolutionary approach can be used together with these methods to to automatically design alternate or novel game mechanics for authored games.

Related Publications

Chong-U Lim and D. Fox Harrell. (2014) "An Approach to General Videogame Evaluation and Automatic Generation using a Description Language", Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG), Dortmund, Germany, 2014. 8 pp.

GitHub Repository

This repository provides Artificial Intelligence extensions to Stephen Lavelle's Puzzlescript, an open-source HTML5 Puzzle Game Engine available at http://www.puzzlescript.net

Associated Project: 
Advanced Identity Representation (AIR) Project

The Girl With Skin of Haints and Seraphs

The Girl With Skin of Haints and Seraphs

The Girl with Skin of Haints and Seraphs is a polymorphic poem first implemented in a non-interactive form as the initial deployment of the Alloy algorithm for generative purposes within another system. It has been subsequently updated with each iteration of GRIOT and it provides a good example for tracing through the execution of an interactive polymorphic poem. As stated above, this polypoem is a commentary on racial politics, the limitations of simplistic binary views of social identity, and the need for more contingent, dynamic models of social identity. The dynamic nature of social identity is also reflected in the way the program produces different poems with different novel metaphors each time it is run. This LISP program draws on a set of theme domains such as skin, angels, demons, Europe, and Africa, given as sets of axioms.

The following example and discussion illustrate the interactive nature of this polypoem. It also recapitulates and extends the discussion of GRIOT architecture and formal description of text generation described above. After processing a user input keyword such as "Europe" entered at a ">" prompt, the first line could be:

her tale began when she was infected with white female-itis

or

she began her days looking in the mirror at her own pale-skinned death-figure face

Associated Project: 
The Girl With Skin of Haints and Seraphs
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

The Griot Sings Haibun

The Griot Sings Haibun

A griot is a revered storyteller in many parts of the African Diaspora. "The Griot Sings Haibun,"is an improvised performance of music, poetry, image, and computation. Live musicians fuel collective improvisation with Harell's GRIOT, a cybernetic system on which a human "plays" an ever-changing polypoem, an interactive multimedia polymorphic narrative poem. The core of GRIOT is the novel Alloy algorithm to generate new concepts and metaphors by blending, based on recent research in cognitive linguistics, computer science, and semiotics. A polypoem is not the output of a single GRIOT execution, but the space of possible poems and/or the code that makes them. In this work, GRIOT generates (neo)haibun: combined narrative prose and haiku-like poetry of everyday experience, influenced by Basho, and the traditions of beat poetry and African call-and-response; tonight our collective griot sings qualia, the qualitative feel of this human life world.

Associated Project: 
The Griot Sings Haibun
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

Memory, Reverie Machine

Memory, Reverie Machine

Memory, Reverie Machine (MRM) is a text-based computational narrative system that is informed by stream of consciousness literature, cognitive linguistic theory of blending and analogy, artificial intelligence research and conventions of Interactive Fiction (IF). The system generates stories in which the main character shifts dynamically along a scale between a user-controlled avatar with low intentionality and an autonomous non-player character with high intentionality. Built on Harrell's GRIOT system that algorithmically controls the semantic hooks for interpreting system through blending, MRM adds a new degree of dynamic discourse structuring in order to create the appearance of dynamic intentionality and system agency.

Associated Project: 
Memory, Reverie Machine
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

Chameleonia

Chameleonia

Chameleonia: Days of Lost Selves is a prototype sketch of a game based on shifting identities where the construction of self is at stake. Players make gestures associated with traits such as aggression, commerce, ideology, and more. Player's avatars, and their opponents', then transform in response. One moment the player character is a bazooka-toting cowgirl/boy sipping a softdrink - at the next moment a gold chain and pocketwatch wearing tycoon with stock charts bursting from its top-hatted head.

Associated Project: 
Chameleonia
Tags: 
Advanced Identity Representation

Generative Visual Renku

Generative Visual Renku

The Generative Visual Renku project presents a new form of concrete polymorphic poetry inspired by Japanese renku poetry, iconicity of Chinese character forms, and generative models from contemporary art. Calligraphic iconic illustrations are composed by the system with both visual and conceptual constrains in response to user actions into a fanciful topography articulating the nuanced interplay between organic (natural or hand-created) and modular (mass-produced or consumerist) artifacts that saturate our lives.

Artists' Statement

Since the industrial age, modularity has revolutionized our everyday lives. For the sake of efficiency and optimization, things and activities were shaped into mass-produced interchangeable units, including our furniture, our dwelling places, our commuting, our consumptions, our entertainments, and our identities. In consumerist societies, modularity always lies at the center, whereas the complements are just scattered peripheries. Life is a journey back and forth between clustered majorities and isolated minorities.

Associated Project: 
Generative Visual Renku
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

Loss, Undersea

Loss, Undersea is an interactive narrative/multimedia semantics project by Fox Harrell in which a character moving through a standard workday encounters a world submerging into the depths -- a double-scope story of banal life blended with a fantastic Atlantean metaphor. As a user selects emotion-driven actions for the character to perform, the character transforms -- sea creature extensions protrude and calcify around him -- and poetic text narrating his loss of humanity and the human world undersea ensues.

 
You can download  the application here:
http://collection.eliterature.org/3/files/loss-undersea/LossUndersea-v1.0-mac.zip

 
References

“Loss, Undesea,” Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 3. Stephanie Boluk, Leonardo Flores, Jacob Garbe, and Anastasia Salter, eds., Electronic Literature Organization. http://collection.eliterature.org/3

Associated Project: 
Loss, Undersea
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

Living Liberia Fabric

The Living Liberia Fabric, initiated in affiliation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia, is an interactive, web-based narrative supporting the goal of lasting peace after years of civil war (1979-2003). It links concerns for liberation, dignity, and the future with needs for cultural foundations, human rights, truth, and reconciliation. Our system is based in Liberia's culture and the specifics of the conflicts, hence representing our cultural computing perspective.

Background

The Final Report of the Republic of Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) states:

While Liberia has often been hailed as one of the only African nations never to be colonized, the historical facts are more complex. The settlements of repatriated Africans were in fact, governed by white American agents of the American Colonization Society for the first several years of their existence.

… the American Colonization Society, and later the fledgling Liberian government, was at war with various indigenous tribes over territory and trade routes throughout the 1800s. Liberia’s complex history created a 'state of contestation' which remains today a major source of conflict and disunity.

Associated Project: 
Living Liberia Fabric
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

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