Research Talk by Mr. Tim Merritt

“The impact of team-mate identity on cooperation in games”

Date & time: Wednesday, 5 Oct 2011, 15:30pm – 16:30pm

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6, #03-38


Much attention in the development of artificial team-mates has focused on replicating human qualities and performance. However, all things being equal, do human players respond the same to human and artificial team-mates – and if there are differences, what accounts for them?

Although there have been a few comparative studies of how players respond to humans and agents in the context of cooperative interactions, the work to date has not been extensive and no attempts have been made to explain the findings. This talk reports on research to understand differences in player experience, perception, and behavior when playing with either human or AI team-mates in real-time cooperative games. A number of game-based experiments were conducted to explore the impact of team-mate identity. Results suggest that people feel, perceive, and behave differently with human and AI team-mates in various ways. It will be argued that the differences observed are broadly the result of being unable to imagine that an AI team-mate could have certain attributes (e.g., emotional dispositions). One of the more surprising aspects of this insight is that the “inability to imagine” impacts decisions and judgements that seem quite unrelated (e.g., credit assignment).


Tim Merritt is pursuing his PhD at the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering under the supervision of A/P Kevin McGee in the Partner Technologies Research Group.  His thesis research focuses on understanding how human players respond to human and artificial team-mates in cooperative games.  Before joining NUS, he was a researcher in the Agora Game Laboratory at the University of Jyväskylä working on the Nordic Serious Games Project. Tim also worked as a consultant designing, implementing and maintaining enterprise monitoring and management solutions for Siemens. He has obtained an M.A. in Digital Culture from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Xavier University, OH, USA.

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