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R. Michael Young

Professor and Chair, Division of Games

Michael often folds his arms and smiles like this.

Adjunct Professor, Kahlert School of Computing

Adjunct Professor, Department of Philosophy


R. Michael Young serves as Professor and Chair of the Division of Games (Utah Games).  In this role, he leads the Division’s efforts in education, research and innovation, works to expand industry partnerships, and oversees Utah Games’ internal operations. Michael is also an Adjunct Professor in both the Kahlert School of Computer Science and in the Department of Philosophy.  He directs the Liquid Narrative Research Group, where he focuses on contributions to the science of narrative, working to create new knowledge of narrative intelligence central to building radically new types of games and virtual worlds. His work advances research in artificial intelligence, but involves collaboration with narrative theorists, cinematographers, cognitive psychologists and storytellers.

Prior to coming to the University of Utah, Michael was a Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University. He was the director there of the Digital Games Research Center and the founding co-director of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Cluster on Visual Narrative.   He was the Principal Investigator for the Narrative for Sensemaking (N4S) Project, funded by the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences.  With funding of over $4m across 4 years’ effort, the N4S project is one of the largest research efforts to date on computational narrative.  In addition to the N4S project, his research efforts in the Liquid Narrative Group have been funded by industry partners like Epic Games, Microsoft Research, and Emergent Game Technologies.  He also has received funding from the National Science Foundation, The National Security Agency, and the Institute for Museum and Library Science.   Michael is the author of over 150 published research articles.

In recognition of his career accomplishments, Michael was selected as an inaugural fellow of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA). He is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and an IBM Faculty Award.  While at NC State, he was the only faculty member in university history to receive all three university-level Outstanding Faculty awards (one for teaching, one for research and one for extension and engagement).  He was a GlaxoSmithKline Fellow in Public Policy in 2012 and is an ACM Distinguished Scientist.

In addition to his research career, Michael is a committed educator.  At the University of Utah, he works to advance Utah Games’ academic efforts, currently rated #3 among game development programs in the nation by USN&WR.  At NC State, he led efforts to create an undergraduate curriculum around game development, and progressed the program to recognition in the top ten schools worldwide by Princeton Review.

Michael earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science at California State University, Sacramento in 1984. He earned a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University in 1989 and a Ph.D. in intelligent systems from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998.

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