Concurrent comics: programming of social agents by children
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
This thesis presents a study of how the visual language of comics can be used for programming of social agents. Social agents are interactive and animated characters that can express emotions and behaviours in relation to other agents. Such agents could be programmed by children to create learning games and simulations. In order to make programming easier, it would be desirable to support the mental transformation needed to link the static program source code to the dynamic behaviour of the running program. Comic books use a representation that captures the dynamics of a story in a visually direct way, and may thus offer a convenient paradigm for programming of social agents using a static representation. The thesis addresses the questions of how comic strips and other signs used in comics can be applied to programming of social agents in a way that makes the source code resemble the appearance of the running program, and how such programs are understood by children. To study these questions, a comic strip programming tool called "Concurrent Comics" has been developed. In Concurrent Comics, social agent programs are represented as a collection of events expressed as comic strips. The tool has been used by children at the age of ten and eleven during several field studies in a school. In classroom studies, the children were successful in creating language learning games with the Concurrent Comics tool in a relatively short time (2 to 3 hours). However, most games had a narrative character and a fairly linear structure. The results from the field studies show that the children tend to interpret comic strip programs as sequential stories. Still, the program examples presented show that comic strip programs look similar to and have a direct visual mapping to the runtime appearance. The conclusion is that the language conventions of comics can be used to represent social agent programs in a visually direct way, but that children have to learn the intended interpretation of comic strips as potentially non-linear and concurrent events to program more simulation-oriented and open-ended games.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2003. , 316 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 821
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35565Local ID: 27627ISBN: 91-7373-651-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-35565DiVA: diva2:256413
2003-06-02, Alan Turing, Hus E, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)