About This Course
This course will introduce students to the process of game design with the application of Artificial Intelligence to game play. Very specifically, the course will focus on unconventional approaches to understand and address real world problems (e.g., designing a game about zombies to study the effects of public health policies with respect to chemical or biological terrorist threats.).
The recent interest in gaming as a method for acquiring data on human-machine interaction, decision making and human factors has helped establish an emerging area of research called “Serious Games”. Examples of Serious Games can include:
- Training for dangerous, expensive, or rare situations
- Evaluation of critical factors in decision making
- Cognitive assessment for injuries and diseases that affect the brain
- Systems analysis
Wait... Did you say Zombies?
Since part of the course will focus on the impact to public health of disease, zombies are a well understood vehicle to model the propagation of infectious agents. They also provide the added benefit of being quantifiable units which can be measured in terms of position, velocity, and albeit limited decision making capabilities. Thus zombies and their attributes make an excellent structure around which to examine a wide variety of decision making scenarios. Students interested in getting a head start on the reading are encouraged to review materials in the Zombies! section of the online content.
The program will consist of a one month, intensive dive into the key aspects of serious gaming including: experimental design, game design, and application development. The course will examine and categorize different types of games, how to extract useful data, an introduction to User Interface design, rules development and play testing.
Students will be provided a basic introduction to Agile management, and coached as they follow the timeline for development. Completing the course will provide students with an understanding of software development, project management, human factors, game design, and technical collaboration as well as the emerging fields of artificial intelligence and serious games.
Students will focus on coding both a portion of the game back-end as well as self-designed extensions. With the assistance of instructors and Teaching Assistants, participants will learn about how Artificial Intelligence can impact the design of experiments and contrast with natural, human-centric game play. All students will participate in both back-end development, within a game-ready python framework, as well as coding of their own extensions. Introduction to supporting topics, including software development best practices for small teams, how to create user interfaces, bug and issue management, data visualization, public health and disease control, and technical presentation will be included.