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Guest Editors' Introduction: Intelligent Systems for Interactive Entertainment

Dina Goren-Bar, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Center for Scientific and Technological Research, Trento
Oscar Mayora-Ibarra, CREATE-NET

Pages: pp. 10-12

Interactive entertainment's advancement has had a strong connection to artificial intelligence's evolution. It isn't a coincidence that for many years AI researchers have found in IE a fertile field to disseminate the products of their investigations. One of the main niches where IE has found successful adoption has been computer games. AI research has had a tremendous impact in this area since the release of the first Pong game in 1972.



Intelligent IE has also shown significant progress in other application areas. In 1989, Karen Frenkel stated that the next generation of interactive technologies would range from home entertainment to cultural exhibits and from educational methodologies to personal computing. 1 This vision is coming true, and interactive technologies are changing observers into active participants. Moreover, today's state-of-the-art research will open up opportunities beyond Frenkel's predictions, ranging from digital art to interactive cinema and from pervasive entertainment to mixed reality in which the user is at the center.

In this issue

This special issue originated with the First Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment Conference (INTETAIN 2005), held from 30 November to 2 December at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. Along with circulating an open call for papers, we invited the authors of the best papers at INTETAIN to submit extended versions of their work for this special issue. After careful and detailed review, we selected six of the 20 submitted articles. These six reflect different aspects of IE: interaction in virtual worlds, electronic art, location-based games, and computational humor.

In "Generating Ambient Behaviors in Computer Role-Playing Games," Maria Cutumisu and her colleagues present an interesting approach to generating entertaining, non-repetitive behavior of nonplayer characters (NPCs) in video games. Their techniques make it easier to represent ambient behaviors of interacting NPCs. Interestingly, the NPCs' behaviors seem more realistic, and the players have a more engaging experience.

In "Presenting in Virtual Worlds: An Architecture for a 3D Anthropomorphic Presenter," Herwin van Welbergen and his colleagues show how they enable 3D virtual characters to interact multimodally with 2D presentations such as simulated PowerPoint slides. To explain the presentations, these virtual presenters use speech, posture, pointing, and involuntary movements. The virtual presenter's movements are associated and synchronized with text and regions in the projection, mimicking a human presenter's behavior. Parallel planners corresponding to each output modality (such as speech and gestures) manage the 3D character's presentation. This innovative approach could have applications in various fields related to entertainment and edutainment.

In "In The Truman Show: Generating Dynamic Scenarios in a Driving Simulator," Ingo Wassink and his colleagues introduce a movie set metaphor for managing multiple software agents in dynamically changing scenarios. The authors define a multiagent framework consisting of different hierarchies or agents associated with different filmmaking jobs—for example, location scouts, assistant directors, the casting director, actors, and the director. Each agent manages different aspects of the scenarios. In this way, the framework can separate scenario descriptions from the scenario events to adapt to different situations while still sticking to the script (goals).

In "Geogames: Designing Location-Based Games from Classic Board Games," Christoph Schlieder, Peter Kiefer, and Sebastian Matyas explain their generic approach to "spatializing" location-based games. The motivation for their research is the empowerment that wireless communications and mobility give to pervasive entertainment. The authors define spatial and temporal coherence as the two basic constraints for defining synchronization of actions and turn-taking. They estimate these two parameters in different geographical settings of a game and associate them with the player's locomotion characteristics. In this way, the authors evaluate the "position of pieces" until the pieces reach an end-of-game condition.

In "Technologies That Make You Smile: Adding Humor to Text-Based Applications," Rada Mihalcea and Carlo Strapparava describe a serious method to automatically insert humorous one-liners to software applications. They evaluate FunEmail and FunLecture, two text interpretation applications that generate one-liners. This research could have an impact in many practical settings where the addition of humor might add value, such as product promotion or edutainment.

In "Artificial Intelligence-Mediated Interaction in Virtual-Reality Art," Jean-Luc Lugrin and his colleagues' approach uses semantic representations to define interactive events. They accomplish this through the interface's opportunistic reaction to the user's attention through proximity and gaze analysis. In this way, the objects defined in the user interface react and adapt to the user's center of focus, creating a more dynamic interactive experience.

The special issue also includes an invited article by Mark Maybury, Oliviero Stock, and Wolfgang Wahlster, the INTETAIN 2005 program chairs. In "Intelligent Interactive Entertainment Grand Challenges," they discuss important trends and future directions. Their detailed analysis highlights AI's role in different fields of digital IE, including interactive games, interactive art, digital TV, interactive cinema, travel, and sports. They emphasize intelligent IE's relevance and its position as a hot research topic with enormous business potential.

Future vistas

With this special issue, we've aimed to present state-of-the-art research representing new facets of intelligent IE technology that haven't seen much publication yet. This field will continue to grow, owing to the interest that different research communities such as AI and human-computer interaction have in the opportunities that communication networks are bringing to pervasive entertainment.

The cross-pollinating methodologies and techniques presented in this special issue represent only one portion of the many distinct techniques and research issues still open in this field. In particular, networking technologies deserve more attention from IE researchers. Future research will likely focus on the distributed remote entertainment (for example, immersive interaction in real time) that will be achievable through increased bandwidth and networking resources. This area will present a new paradigm for future IE applications involving diverse communication platforms such as interactive television, mobile computing, and the Internet. Moreover, new interaction paradigms such as massive multiplayer entertainment, for example, will require that AI researchers broaden the scope of their expertise into the social sciences.


AI's future contributions will be fundamental to IE's success. We hope that this special issue is just a sampler and that the future will provide many more innovations through deliberate cross-coupling between AI and other IE research communities.

Finally, we thank all those who have helped support this special issue: the authors, reviewers, and IEEE Intelligent Systems' editor in chief and staff.


About the Authors

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Dina Goren-Bar is a lecturer in the Department of Information Systems Engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a visiting researcher at the Center for Scientific and Technological Research—ITC-irst, Trento, Italy. Her research interests include adaptive user interfaces, multimodal-interaction design, personalized information visualization, and functional evaluation and user studies of intelligent applications applied mainly to medicine and entertainment. She received her PhD in computers and information systems from Tel-Aviv University and her MA in psychology from the Hebrew University at Jerusalem. She's a certified educational psychologist and certified system analyst. She's a member of the Israeli Psychological Association, IEEE, and Israeli Association for Artificial Intelligence. Contact her at
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Oscar Mayora-Ibarra heads the CREATE-NET research center's Multimedia, Interaction and Smart Environments group. His research interests include adaptive user interfaces, pervasive smart environments, and human-computer interaction. He received his PhD in computer science from the University of Genoa. He's a member of the ACM and SIGCHI. Contact him at CREATE-NET, Via Solteri 38, 38100, Trento, Italy;
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