Design metaphors for procedural content generation in games

Rilla Khaled, Mark J. Nelson, Pippin Barr (2013). Design metaphors for procedural content generation in games. In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1509–1518.


Procedural content generation (PCG), the algorithmic creation of game content with limited or indirect user input, has much to offer to game design. In recent years, it has become a mainstay of game AI, with significant research being put towards the investigation of new PCG systems, algorithms, and techniques. But for PCG to be absorbed into the practice of game design, it must be contextualised within design-centric as opposed to AI or engineering perspectives. We therefore provide a set of design metaphors for understanding potential relationships between a designer and PCG. These metaphors are: tool, material, designer, and domain expert. By examining PCG through these metaphors, we gain the ability to articulate qualities, consequences, affordances, and limitations of existing PCG approaches in relation to design. These metaphors are intended both to aid designers in understanding and appropriating PCG for their own contexts and to advance PCG research by highlighting the assumptions implicit in existing systems and discourse.

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