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Guest Lecture: Designing Player-AI Interaction: Engaging Players to Understand AI Through Play

Monday, March 25 @ 4pm
in PTAB 109

Abstract: Helping people understand AI is an essential effort in the field of HCI. Among the fast-growing body of work, HCI researchers have explored interactive explanations and visualizations as a means to help people build up an understanding of AI systems through exploratory interaction with the system. However, one overlooked area is the context of play, especially in AI-based computer games, to better engage people in this effort. In this research talk, I discuss the new construct of player-AI interaction (PAI) and how we can leverage the player experience of interacting with artificial intelligence in games to study how to design games as an alternative approach. Using mental model theory, I discuss the design space for how players interact with AI in the scope of Neural Network games, how players make sense of these systems during gameplay, and the effectiveness and tradeoffs of different playful interactions on mental model development. Additionally, I discuss future work on developing new forms of player interactions with AI systems, their potential impact on guiding players’ mental models of AI systems, and using games to enhance explainable interfaces to AI.

Bio: Jennifer Villareale is a digital producer, designer, and director with over ten years of experience in digital media. She currently works as the Director of Digital Content at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, where she develops game-based and informal learning experiences for children and young adults. Jennifer’s research focuses on the user experience of AI in the context of play, in particular, studying how people interact with artificial intelligence in games to further our understanding of how we can design AI-based games to engage people to develop more accurate mental models of AI systems. She earned her Ph.D. in Digital Media from Drexel University, where she was advised by Dr. Jichen Zhu and where she currently teaches courses on game user research and game design as an adjunct professor. She has authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications, collaborating with researchers from the IT University of Copenhagen, Northeastern University, and UC Santa Cruz, among others, and was a finalist in Drexel’s 2019 and 2020 Research Excellence Awards. She holds a Master of Science in Digital Media from Drexel and a Bachelor’s in Illustration and Design from Moore College of Art & Design, and she previously served as a Creative Director at several media and design companies. Her first game, OMBRA, was published on Xbox One in 2018.