Michael’s CV: cv.pdf

Michael's Headshot R. Michael Young. Michael Young is a Professor in the School of Computing and Deputy Director of the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT, where he directs the Liquid Narrative research group. Together with his group’s students and research staff, he works to develop computational models of interactive narrative with applications to computer games, educational and training systems and virtual environments. His work is grounded in computational approaches, but seeks to cross disciplinary boundaries, involving collaborators and concepts from cognitive psychology, linguistics, narrative theory, cinematography and other disciplines where human cognition and interaction are central. He is also involved in a number of inter-disciplinary activities and committees at the Department, College and the University Level. He is actively engaged in leadership activities with games industry professional and trade organizations at the national, state and local levels.

Young’s research looks primarily at new models of plans and planning and the use of these knowledge representation techniques to characterize aspects of narratives. He was among the first researchers to develop models of planning adapted for story generation and leveraged the well-defined nature of these models to design algorithms that adapt interactive story lines to user activity. He has shown close correlations between the plan-based models he uses in story generation and the cognitive models of story comprehension developed by psychologists. Based on these correlations, he has developed approaches to story generation that target the creation of specific cognitive and emotional responses on the part of game players or story readers.

His work has targeted the generation of story experiences that prompt suspense, surprise and predictive inferences about upcoming events in an unfolding story-based game. Building on his previous work in the area of computational linguistics, he has developed a generative model of 3D camera control. In this approach, the specification of shots and shot sequences for a camera that is filming action within a 3D environment is computed based on models of linguistic discourse structure. This work has application in the automatic generation of cinematic sequences for video game cut-scenes, pre-visualizations rendered for film makers and instructional videos or highlight reels of activity within a virtual environment. Young has applied the computational methods he has developed beyond entertainment contexts, building systems that effectively generate natural language discourse, instructional text, tools for intelligence analysis, crime-scene investigation and computer-assisted scaffolding used in intelligent tutoring systems. The tools he has developed have been used by other researchers in projects involving the automatic generation of instructional text, intelligent tutoring systems and informative multi-media presentations.

Young has published more than 145 scientific papers in venues that including leading conferences and journals in computer games, artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, autonomous agents and intelligent user interfaces. He has served to co-found and build several of the leading conferences in the area of computer games research (the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Entertainment, the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games) and has served as program committee member or program or conference chair of more than 50 leading conferences across the areas of artificial intelligence, virtual worlds and computer games. He serves as vice-president and is a founding board member of the Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games (SASDG), a scientific society leading the community of scholars and practitioners advancing games research. Moreover, he served as editor-in-chief for the Journal of Game Development and serves or has served as a member of the editorial board of the leading journals in the area of games and AI research, including ACM Transactions on Intelligent Interactive Systems, IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations and Advances in Cognitive Systems. He has won a number awards including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and an IBM Faculty Award.

Young worked as a Professor of Computer Science at NC State University for 16 uears prior to joining the faculty at Utah. While at NC State, he received Alumni Outstanding Faculty awards in all three areas where the awards are offered: Teaching, Research and Extension + Engagement. Young is the only faculty member in NC State’s history to receive all three university-level faculty awards.

Young’s research is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, the national Security Agency and several industrial partners, and he has served as a PI or Co-PI on more than 15 grants.

All of Young’s papers are available electronically at the Liquid Narrative Group’s [publications page])/_pages/where).

Selected Publications

  • Narrative Planning: Balancing Plot and Character, by Mark Riedl and R. Michael Young, in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, vol. 39, pages 217-268 [PDF]
  • Annie: Automated Generation of Adaptive Learning Guidance For Fun Serious Games, by Jim Thomas and R. Michael Young, in IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, vol 3, no. 4, pages 329 – 343, Ocotober-December, 2010. [PDF]
  • Cinematic Visual Discourse: Representation, Generation and Evaluation, by Arnav Jhala and R. Michael Young, in IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, vol. 2, issue 2, pages 69 – 81, June 2010.
  • Proactive Mediation in Plan-Based Narrative Environments, by Justin Harris and R. Michael Young, in IEEE Transactions on Cmputational Intelligence and AI in Games, vol. 1, issue 3, pages 223-244, 2010.
  • Story and discourse: A bipartite model of narrative generation in virtual worlds by R. Michael Young, in Interaction Studies, 2007. [PDF]


Michael teaches the CS graduate course on Computational Models of Interactive Narrative and courses in EAE on Game AI and game develoment. Previously, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses on Artificial Intelligence.