Welcome! I am Gail (Banaszkiewicz) Carmichael.  Download my CV and take a look around. If you might like to hire me to put together a computer science and/or video game workshop, camp, or course, contact me.

About Me

My varied background in both software development and computer science education have provided me with an interesting set of valuable skills.  I have contributed to traditional software development projects, but I have also delved deeper into what it means to be a good programmer when designing curriculum for outreach programs and undergraduate courses.  In my role as a faculty instructor, I am not only an educator and designer, but also an effective manager overseeing up to 700 students and 18 teaching assistants at a time.  As a researcher, I continue to use good engineering practices and take pride in any code I write.

I am also passionate about sharing my joy of computer science with others, especially girls and women.  I am a co-founder of Carleton University's Women in Science and Engineering (CU-WISE), a member of the now disbanded Advisory Board for the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and a long-time contributor to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.  I am currently working on setting up a more formal Canadian branch of Girl Develop It! and continue to participate in many outreach initiatives.

Latest News

Jason and the Golden Fleece on Github

I have publicly posted the current version of my Jason and the Golden Fleece game on GitHub.  The game is functional, but not complete.  In particular, the user interface and story engine work, but the content is a placeholder.

PhD Thesis Proposal Complete

On December 15 2014, I passed the thesis proposal requirement for the PhD program.  My research scope will narrow, and I will now focus more on the mechanics to arrange story events than their use in games specifically.  I wrote about the proposal experience on my blog.

Gram's House NSF AISL Pathways Grants Funded

Gram's House is a research project I started several years ago with a prototype originally designed for Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition.  Since then, a core team has formed around the project, and we just got awarded two NSF Pathways grants for the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program:

I will be participating in the first project on story as a contractor.

Featured in TechGirls Canada's Portraits of Strength

I was recently featured on Portraits of Strength, which "features women in STEM who have helped break barriers and achieved great things within their industry." Read my profile here.

Recipient of Carleton University's Faculty of Science 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award

I received the Excellence in Teaching Award at our Faculty of Science's holiday reception on December 10, 2013.  I am very honored to receive it at this early stage of my career.

Faculty Instructor

I have been hired by the School of Computer Science at Carleton University as a faculty instructor for a one year term beginning July 1 2013.  I will be teaching a variety of first, second, and third year courses for both majors and non-majors.

Poster Presentation at GRAND 2013

I will be presenting a poster at GRAND 2013 for the BELIEVE project.  This is the abstract we submitted:

Crafting satisfying narratives while preserving player freedom of action is a longstanding challenge for computer games.  Many games use a quest structure, allowing players to experience content nonlinearly.  However, this risks creating disjointed stories when side quests only minimally integrate with the main story. We propose a flexible, scene-based story system that reacts dynamically to the player’s actions.

In the proposed system, stories are defined within a graph where nodes represent scenes and edges represent causality.  Nodes are tagged with information including possible locations for the scene, the plans or goals connected to the scene, and the agents and objects involved in the scene.  At any time, the distance from the player’s current game state to nodes in the story graph is measured according to five dimensions of nonlinearity: time, space, causality, agents involved, and the player’s goal.  The system will use the distance to determine what nodes should be available at any given time.  Scenes will be modified dynamically according to when and where they ultimately take place, ensuring that each node has a narrative connection to its predecessors.  This system allows for potentially connected stories driven by player action, leading to a more cohesive emergent story.

Go Code Girl

Are you a high school girl who ever wondered about programming? Or do you know one that might benefit from seeing what it's all about? Then be sure to sign up for Go Code Girl, a one day workshop being help at the University of Ottawa on April 20!

Research Article About Me

An article published online by Carleton University discusses my research project:

A team of Carleton researchers is trying to find out why so many computer games shy away from using nonlinear storytelling techniques – that is, techniques that help present stories out of chronological order. Traditional media like films and novels use all kinds of interesting nonlinear techniques, like those found in Run Lola Run, Groundhog Day and Memento. Many games tend to stick to fairly simple techniques like flashbacks, but more sophisticated approaches could result in more games with critically acclaimed stories.

Read the rest in Creating Compelling Computer Games.

Recent Speaking Engagements

I recently spoke at TEDxSandyHillWomen about women in tech, and will be giving a tutorial in the new year about interactive storytelling at the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference (CUSEC).

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