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Department of Computer Science

Machine Learning and Cognitive Modelling Applied to Video Games

Primary supervisor

Additional information

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Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Competition Funded Project (Students Worldwide)

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide. Funding may only be available to a limited set of nationalities and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Project description

Video games have been viewed as an ideal test bed for the study of AI. However, most of the academic work in this area focused on traditional board and card games where limited AI techniques have been tested. On the other hand, interactive vedio game development, particularly video games, has grown up to be an industry of a huge market between $35 billion and $50 billion. Interactive video games provide a forum for interaction between agent and human in cyberspace and are argued to be of educational value apart from entertainment. Recent studies revealed that most of exiting interactive games lack innovation (e.g., most of existing games have only predefined, static and predictable game agent responses) and fail to consider player satisfaction (e.g., frustration caused by failures in performing some actions), and the next generation interactive games demand improving the player experience in fantasy, innovation, curiosity, challenge and imitation of human intelligence. Thus, there is an unexplored opportunity for cognition-aware machine learning to make interactive games more interesting and realistic. Machine learning would provide a new way to improve behavioural dynamics for automatic generation and selection of behaviours, which offer opportunities to create more engaging and entertaining game-play experience. Furthermore, computational cognitive modelling techniques along with machine learning allow for modelling player/agent behaviours and creating vivid cognition-aware environments.

This project is going to investigate machine learning and cognitive modelling techniques for developing next generation video games as well as related tools. The main issues in this project include autonomous learnable agents for playing generic video game AI, novel learning algorithms for game content space exploration and exploitation, novel cognition-aware learning algorithms for real-time adaptation mechanisms, player-experience driven automatic game content generation and player behaviour modelling as well as new game-genre framework via deploying psychological and cognitive theories. As a part of this project, normally, a prototype with an appropriate genre will be developed with the proposed learning algorithms under the new game-genre framework to demonstrate the novelty of the proposed methodology. It is worth mentioning that this project description is generic and a specific project needs to be well-defined with a self-motivated student's input.

In order to take this project, it is absolutely essential or a prerequisite to have video gaming programming experience and excellent programming skills in C++ and/or other common gaming programming languages (Please refrain from making any inquiry if one does not meet this condition). In addition, it also requires decent machine learning and, ideally, basic cognitive science knowledge. If you are interested in this project, please first visit my research student page: for the required materials and information prior to contacting me.

Person specification

For information


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will have good time management.
  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?