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The focus of the Games research group is in new research technologies and ideas for games, and on new ways to use games to achieve scientific, social and cultural impact. We do much work in collaboration with the UK games industry - having over £30 million in funding to support impact-driven research (see projects below) including several PhD studentships each year in the IGGI centre for doctoral training. Topics of interest include: Artificial Intelligence (AI) for decision making in games, game analytics, human-computer-interaction (HCI) and user experience (UX) design in games, believable characters, games for science and society, gamification, audio and graphics in games, and procedural content generation. The group's research is strongly interdisciplinary with links into the departments of biology; psychology; sociology; education; archaeology; and theatre  film and television.

Group Aims

The research of the Games group will bring the UK digital games industry closer to scientists and potentially to start a movement that will lead to mainstream distribution of games aimed at scientific and social benefits.

Senior Member: Peter Cowling

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Research Areas

Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making in Games

This theme fuses ideas from Monte Carlo Tree Search with ideas from data mining (or game analytics) to produce more interesting, challenging and believable behaviour in games. We are interested in creating new, more enjoyable decision making opponents for board, card, mobile and video games. Our technology for decision making in mobile card games has been downloaded over 5 million times.

Intelligent games and Believable characters

This theme considers how we can use techniques from artificial intelligence, graphics and sound to create interesting, fun, emotionally engaging agents in a wide variety of games. Areas include:

  • Adapting game story to achieve player emotional responses
  • Interactive narrative
  • Characters that learn and adapt intelligently
  • Learning by imitation from massive datasets
  • Decision-making for non-player agents through integrating knowledge and search

Game Intelligence and Gamification

This theme considers how we can use games as a tool for gathering experimental behavioural data in order to advance science and achieve societal benefits. Areas include:

  • Understanding player economic behaviours in massively multi-player online games
  • Data mining in commercial games to understand player psychology
  • Investigating games which encompass economic mechanism design
  • Investigating games for training and dissemination of science
  • Using tailored games as a tool for understanding players as biological agents
  • Creating games to crowdsource effort in solving scientific problems
  • Investigating games as a therapeutic tool

Procedural Content Generation Artificial Intelligence for Game Design

This theme considers how artificial intelligence techniques can be use offline and online for the production of material in game design. Areas include:

  • Advanced procedural content generation techniques
  • Modelling creative processes in game design
  • Data analytics for improved game experience
  • Full game generation via automated programming
  • Evolutionary game design
  • Automatic quest generation
  • Automated ideation for game design
  • Reasoning about game specifications

Video - Let us play: Artificial and human intelligence in games

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Research Projects

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Industrial Collaborators

  • AIGameDev
  • AECOM Limited UK)
  • AI Factory Ltd
  • Anti-Matter Games Limited
  • Arup (Ove Arup and Partnerss Ltd( (UK)
  • Association for Language Learning
  • BBC
  • British Library
  • BT
  • BZP Pro Inc
  • City of York Council
  • Codemasters
  • Common Ground Theatre
  • Complex City Apps
  • Cornwall and Isles of Scitty LEP
  • Creative England
  • DTS Licencing Ltd UK
  • Eutechnyx
  • Fab Foundation (Fab Labs) UK
  • Gaist Ltd
  • Game Republic
  • Glasslab Games
  • GV Art Gallery
  • Headcast Ltd
  • Helix Arts
  • HerxAngels
  • IBM
  • Imaginarium
  • Int Game Developers Assoc 
  • Joe Cutting: Digital Exhibits
  • Kirkyards Consulting
  • IGDA
  • Knowledge Transfer Network
  • Leeds City Region
  • MooD International Ltd
  • Moon Collider Ltd
  • Museums Association
  • Nat Inst for Health Care Excellence
  • National Medium Museum
  • Netherlands Inst for Sound and Vision
  • New Visuality
  • Northern Content Ltd
  • One & Other TV
  • Orange Helicopter
  • Philips
  • Playgen
  • Portugel Telecom
  • Rebellion
  • Red Kite Alliance
  • Science City York
  • Science Museum Group
  • SideFX
  • Sony
  • Stainless Games Ltd
  • Sue Ryder Care
  • Superfast Cornwall
  • Supermassive Games
  • Swrve
  • The Beautiful Meme
  • The British Academy
  • The Churches Conservation Trust
  • The Computer Shed
  • The European Second Language Association
  • TIFA The Ind Game Dev Assoc Ltd
  • TigerX
  • Timeline Computer Archive
  • UK Ineractive Entertainment
  • We R Interactive Ltd
  • York Curiouser Cultural Association
  • York Theatre Royal
  • York, North Yorkshire & East Riding LEP
  • Yorkshire Teaching Schools Alliance

Academic Collaborators

  • Aalto University
  • Cass Business School
  • Durham University Business School
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
  • Falmouth University
  • Goldsmiths University of London
  • Harvard University
  • Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University
  • University of Bradford
  • University of Essex
  • Utara University Malaysia (UUM)
  • Waseda University

Academic Members of the Group


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