The Digital Camera of Games

A Canon-brand point and shoot.

When I began the course of my Ph.D. at North Carolina State University, I scored a chance meeting with David L. Roberts, then a recently minted Assistant Professor of Computer Science. I originally met David at Georgia Tech through its FOCUS Scholars program, back when I was considering going to Georgia Tech for graduate school (they ended up rejecting me, making the decision to not go that much easier). Anyway, I was a green Ph.D. student and eagerly accepted an invitation to his office to talk about research projects. Although he now primarily does work in computer-canine interaction (seriously, how cool is that?), he used to primarily do work in my area: Artificial Intelligence + Games. When I went into his office, he gave me an elevator pitch that has stuck with me since that day and which I wish to repeat here for the sake of documenting it.

The pitch was around a metaphor: "The Digital Camera of Games." Up until the dawn of the 21st century, photography required the technical expertise of chemistry and optics, and the aesthetic expertise of lighting and framing. The invention of the digital camera democratized photography. The research that he (originally) carried out targeted the democratization of game development through the invention of the "Digital Camera of Games."

I target the creation of said digital camera by understanding the aesthetic (i.e. cognitive and affective) expertise required for their automated generation. Like a digital camera auto-adjusts the lighting and framing of subjects, so too will my systems auto-adjust the narrative to effectively communicate a rhetorical goal.