David Gundry

David Gundry

Game-based Interaction with Children for Linguistic Experiments

Eliciting linguistic data from children faces several difficulties such as investment of researcher time and few available participants. Because of this, many language acquisition studies have to make do with few subjects and coarse sampling rates (measured in months). It would be ideal if a game could crowd-source the relevant linguistic data from children playing more frequent, shorter games, possibly with the facilitation of the child’s parents.

Towards this end, David’s research is looking at how spoken human-computer interactions can be motivated playfully to elicit particular speech acts. All sorts of research tasks have been gamified to crowd-source data. However, the established design patterns of gamification do not easily apply to a discipline that lacks a ‘correct’ answer. Language is ultimately individual and subjective. This makes the risk to experimental validity through gamification an important concern. Nurturing a playful engagement is essential to gathering quality subjective data from players.

Despite recent progress in speech recognition technology, speech as a human-computer interaction is underexplored. Furthermore, encouraging speech has both a clinical application and academic interest, and is relevant for numerous domains of computer-child interaction, including games and education.

David is in the second year of a PhD in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence at the University of York. He has an MA in Syntax and Semantics, and a BA in Linguistics. He has been designing and programming games for as long as he can remember. He has recently developed speech-detection tools for Unity and a telemetry plugin and (PHP/MongoDB) server to handle combined game and microphone logging.

Home institution: York

Supervisors: Dr Sebastian Deterding, Dr Paul Cairns

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