Narrative is a significant genre for both conventional and computational media. As we increase our computational understanding of narrative, we increase our ability to enable meaningful experiences in computational media that are created automatically, on demand and tailored to context. In this talk I'll present an overview of the research from my lab developing computational models of narrative that draw upon ideas from narrative theory, cognitive psychology and linguistic pragmatics. One central element of these models is the role played by intentionality -- modeling plans and plan reasoning -- in both the construction of a storyline and its experience. I'll discuss the representational power and current limitations of our work for generating some foundational elements that contribute to meaning in narrative: plot structure, narrative discourse and the mental models people construct as they experience stories. I'll review ongoing projects that seek to extend intentional reasoning capabilities in order to create more engaging characters, tell stories in ways that prompt comprehension and dynamically adapt storylines within interactive narratives. I'll provide several examples of intelligent interactive systems that leverage plan-like representations in a range of contexts from entertainment to big data sense-making to human learning. Concluding the talk, I'll discuss the need for expanded understanding of the relationship between narrative, cognition, communication and computation in the development of new forms of narrative-centered systems.
R. Michael Young is a professor of computer science and University Faculty Scholar at North Carolina State University, where he leads the Liquid Narrative Research Group. His work focuses on the computational modeling of interactive narrative, especially in the context of computer games and virtual worlds. He's the founder and co-director of the NCSU Digital Games Research Center and he teaches courses on game design/development and interactive narrative. In 2000, Michael received a CAREER Award from the US National Science Foundation. He has received university-level awards at NCSU for outstanding teaching, outstanding research and outstanding activities in engagement/economic development. Michael is a senior member of IEEE and of AAAI and is an ACM Distinguished Scientist. He was awarded a GlaxoSmithKline Faculty Fellowship for Public Policy and Public Engagement in 2009 and was named an NCSU University Faculty Scholar in 2015. Michael was co-founder of several conferences that are leading venues for publication of scientific advances in computer games and currently serves as an associate editor of the IEEE journal Transaction on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games. He received a Ph.D. in Intelligent Systems from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997 and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1988.