An interactive game-design assistant

Mark J. Nelson, Michael Mateas (2008). An interactive game-design assistant. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, pp. 90–98.


Game-design novices increasingly hope to use game-like expression as a way to express content such as opinions and educational material. Existing game-design toolkits such as Game Maker ease the programming burden, bringing the design of small games within the technical reach of low-budget, non-expert groups. The design process itself remains a roadblock, however: It is not at all obvious how to present topics such as political viewpoints or bike safety in a way that makes use of the unique qualities of the interactive game medium. There are no tools to assist in that aspect of the game design process, and as a result virtually all expressive games come from a small number of game studios founded by experts in designing such games. We propose a game-design assistant that acts in a mixed-initiative fashion, helping the author understand the content of her design-in-progress, providing suggestions or automating the process where possible, and even offering the possibility for parts of the game to be dynamically generated at runtime in response to player interaction. We describe a prototype system that interactively helps authors define spaces of games in terms of common-sense constraints on their real-world references, provides support for them to understand and iteratively refine such spaces and realizes specific games from the spaces as playable mobile-phone games in response to user input.

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