Chimeria: Gatekeeper

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Project Overview


Chimeria: Gatekeeper is a playable interactive conversational scenario, authored using the Chimeria Platform It uses a cognitive science-grounded model of social category membership to customize how conversational narratives unfold. Conversations between characters are important aspects of many videogames. However, most such conversational interactions in videogames are quite limited in how they take into account the identities of those characters. Conversation in videogames typically varies, if at all, based only on one aspect of the character such as an NPC referring to the character by race, class, or a gendered pronoun.

Chimeria: Gatekeeper is an application of the Chimeria Platform, which seeks to address such limitations. The Gatekeeper narrative models an extremely common RPG scenario: a player trying to get past an NPC guard in order to gain access to the inside of a castle keep. However, within this application, the Chimeria Engine is used to enhance this scenario by modeling more complex, adaptive, and nuanced conversations between the player character (PC) and the non-playable characters (NPCs).

My Role and Contributions

I worked in a team of 6 to develop the gameplay narrative and story line and worked on authoring the initial prototype of the web app layout in HTML and CSS to meet the visual scheme and requirements created by our designer. I contributed as an additional author to a publication that illustrates how Chimeria: Gatekeeper allows the construction of conversational narratives that convey social identity phenomena such as stigma and discrimination. This publication, entitled Authoring Conversational Narratives in Games with the Chimeria Platform, was designated as an exemplary paper in proceedings of the 9th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games in 2014.

This project presents a robust and nuanced computational model for the everyday forms of conversational narrative that are crucial to players’ experiences in many computer games. The results we got from initial user testing indicated that almost all users were able to relate their gameplay to the themes of membership, naturalization, and marginalization. Chimeria:Gatekeeper helped to demonstrate how computationally modeling issues such as naturalization, marginalization, and passing can contribute to scientific approaches to issues of social empowerment and diversity.

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