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Prom Week and Comme il Faut

Prom Week is a social simulation game about the dramatic week leading up to a high school prom. Players of Prom Week indirectly sculpt the social landscape by having characters engage in social exchanges with each other. There are a large number of varied results of these social exchanges—ranging from mild changes in sentiment to characters professing their eternal love. The possible exchanges and results are informed by over 3500 sociocultural considerations managed by the AI systemComme il Faut (CiF) (McCoy et al 2010). Through shifting the interpersonal relationships and learning the personal intricacies of the characters, the player can solve a series of “social puzzles”, such as making the class nerd the prom king, or bringing peace between feuding jocks and preppies.

CiF is an AI system that enables an interactive, authorable model of social interaction for autonomous agents. Social interactions are multi-character actions whose function is to modify the social state existing within and across the participants. Dramaturgical analysis (Goffman, 1959) is the basis for extending the power of social interactions from their initial form in Façade (Mateas & Stern, 2005)—where their variation in performance was implicitly encoded in behaviors and they were not reusable between characters—to their current, reusable form that supports performance variation explicitly. Through the use of social interactions along with additional encoded social context, CiF models the social aspects of virtual worlds.

Prom Week has undergone several iterations in both the game and AI design. First, a computational prototype of CiF was developed and was paired with a paper prototyped game system. As this computationally-assisted paper prototype was tested, the game play provided a critical perspective on the domain of the AI system: that early prototype of CiF was more about satisfying the psychological needs of the characters in the game world rather than providing a play experience about the relationships between characters. In the new, broadened requirements of emphasising the more social aspects of game play, CiF was re-engineered to include affordances like subjective social feelings and relationships between characters.

Josh McCoy, April 2011

Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1st ed.). Anchor. Retrieved from

Mateas, M, & Stern, A. (2005). Structuring Content in the Façade Interactive Drama Architecture (Vol. 3).

McCoy, J., Treanor, M., Samuel, B., Tearse, B., Mateas, Michael, & Wardrip-Fruin, N. (2010). Authoring Game-based Interactive Narrative using Social Games and Comme il Faut.