Computational Media: Research Toward the Future of Games

Interactive media and games increasingly pervade and shape our society. In addition to their dominant roles in entertainment, video games play growing roles in education, arts, science and health. This seminar series brings together a diverse set of experts to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on these media regarding their history, technologies, scholarly research, industry, artistic value and potential future.

Join us every Friday From April 3rd until June 5th from 12pm-1pm in Shriram 104.

Also listed as one-unit course BIOE196. For more information contact

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Noah Wardrip-Fruin

Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Computational Media: Research Toward the Future of Games. Computer games have made amazing strides in the past 50 years -- thanks to everyone from massive national laboratories to scrappy indie developers. But during this time we have also discovered limitations in the technology and design approaches used to make today's games. These limitations have caused AAA team sizes to balloon, have walled designers off from much of the computational power of game technologies, and have made it nearly impossible to integrate the things that matter most in other media into gameplay (social relationships, storytelling, beliefs about the world). This limits how much games can matter -- and what they can teach us. At the University of California, Santa Cruz we are addressing these challenges directly, bringing computer science research into collaboration with game design and insights from the humanities and arts. We call our approach "Computational Media." This talk outlines our motivations, our approach, and a selection of our projects.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin is an Associate Professor of Computational Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he co-directs the Expressive Intelligence Studio, one of the world's largest technical research groups focused on games. He also directs the Playable Media group in UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media program. Noah's research areas include new models of storytelling in games, how games express ideas through play, and how games can help broaden understanding of the power of computation. Noah has authored or co-edited five books on games and digital media for the MIT Press, including The New Media Reader (2003), a book influential in the development of interdisciplinary digital media curricula. His most recent book, Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies was published by MIT in 2009. Noah's collaborative playable media projects, including Screen and Talking Cure, have been presented by the Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Krannert Art Museum, Hammer Museum, and a wide variety of festivals and conferences. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization. Noah holds both a PhD (2006) and an MFA (2003) from Brown University.