Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera

Assistant Professor
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology & Kahlert School of Computing
Building 72, Room 216


Dr. Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera is an Assistant Professor and Founding Faculty of the Division of Games, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Kahlert School of Computing at the University of Utah. At Utah, Rogelio directs the Laboratory for Quantitative Experience Design, a community of scholars who build human-aware artificial intelligence systems in search of invariant properties of experience design: precise relationships that exist between our inner environments (our physico-cognitive states), interfaces (narratological and ludological discourse), and outer environments (games and virtual worlds). These systems computationally model how game players think and act inside video games and are intended to help game designers design.

Dr. Cardona-Rivera has published in diverse, high-impact venues centered on artificial intelligence, interactive narrative, game design, and virtual reality, and has obtained over $1.5 million in support of their research program toward establishing a science of game design, including: the CAREER award and collaborative grants from the National Science Foundation; sponsorships from Activision | Blizzard and Oculus VR within the game development industry; and government contracts from the Department of Defense, including funding from IARPA, the United States Naval Research Laboratory, and the Department of Energy via their Computational Science Graduate Fellowship.

Prior to Utah, Rogelio worked as a computational narratologist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, USA and Disney Research in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.  Dr. Cardona-Rivera earned the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science with minor in Cognitive Science from North Carolina State University, and the B.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering with minors in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.

Courses Taught (regularly)

CS 5360 | 6360: Virtual Reality

EAE 4900 (special topics): Psychology of Games

EAE 6610: Artificial Intelligence in Games

Research Interests

Computational Psychology

Artificial Intelligence

Game Design

Interactive Narrative

Virtual Reality


Ph.D., 2019, North Carolina State University, Computer Science (Cognitive Science minor)

M.Sc., 2013, North Carolina State University, Computer Science

B.Sc., 2010, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Computer Engineering (Economics and Mathematics minors)


National Science Foundation, Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, 2021

Honorable Mention for Best Paper (runner-up), 13th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS), 2020

Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Scottish Informatics & Computer Science Alliance, 2020

EAAI New and Future Educator Award, 2017

Honorable Mention for Best Paper (alongside Ignacio X. Domínguez, James Vance, and David L. Roberts), ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2016

Best Paper (alongside Matthew Fendt, Brent Harrison, Stephen G. Ware, and David L. Roberts), International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, 2012

Best Student Paper on a Cognitive Science Topic (alongside K. Cassell, S. G. Ware, and R. Michael Young), Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative at the International Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, 2012

Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, 2011

National GEM Consortium Ph.D. Fellowship, 2010

Game Credits

Umbilicus: Ascension (alongside Ian Coleman)
* Selected for the 2015 Github Game Off III showcase.

* Runner-up at the 2014 Github Game Off II

Representative Publications

Journal Articles

Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, José P. Zagal, and Michael S. Debus. Aligning story and gameplay through narrative goals. Entertainment Computing, 17(100577):1–15, 2023. 15 pages.

Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, Thomas W. Price, David R. Winer, and R. Michael Young. Question Answering in the Context of Stories Generated by Computers. Advances in Cognitive Systems (4), pp. 227–246.  2016.

Conference Papers

Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, José P. Zagal, and Michael S. Debus. Game System Models: Toward Semantic Foundations for Technical Game Analysis, Generation, and Design. In Proceedings of the 18th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2022), pages 10–17, 2022. [25% acceptance rate for full paper presentations]

Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, José P. Zagal, and Michael S. Debus. GFI: A Formal Approach to Narrative Design and Game Research. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2020), pages 133–148, 2020. [31% acceptance rate for full paper presentations;  awarded Honorable Mention (Runner-up) for Best Paper]

Ignacio X. Domínguez, Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, James Vance, and David L. Roberts. The Mimesis Effect: The Effect of Roles on Player Choice in Interactive Narrative Role-Playing Games. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2016), pp. 3438–3449. 2016. [23.4% acceptance rate; Awarded Honorable Mention in the Best Papers Category, 4% honorable mention rate]