Thespian: Modeling Socially Normative Behavior in a Decision-Theoretic Framework

  • Mei Si
  • Stacy C. Marsella
  • David V. Pynadath
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4133)


To facilitate lifelike conversations with the human players in interactive dramas, virtual characters should follow similar conversational norms as those that govern human-human conversations. In this paper, we present a model of conversational norms in a decision-theoretic framework. This model is employed in the Thespian interactive drama system. In Thespian, characters have explicit goals of following norms, in addition to their other personal goals, and use a unified decision-theoretic framework to reason about conflicts among these goals. Different characters can weigh their goals in different ways and therefore have different behaviors. We discuss the model of conversational norms in Thespian. We also present preliminary experiments on modeling various kinds of characters using this model.


Adjacency Pair Virtual Character Interactive Drama Defense Advance Research Project Agency Defense Advance Research Project Agency 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Kelso, M.T., Weyhrauch, P., Bates, J.: Dramatic presence. PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 2(1), 1–15 (1993)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Riedl, M., Saretto, C.J., Young, R.M.: Managing interaction between users and agents in a multi-agent storytelling environment. In: AAMAS, pp. 741–748 (2003)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cavazza, M., Charles, F., Mead, S.J.: Emergent situations in interactive storytelling. In: Proc. of ACM Symposium on Applied Computing (ACM-SAC) (2002)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Marsella, S.C., Johnson, W.L., Labore, C.: Interactive pedagogical drama for health interventions. In: AIED (2003)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Paiva, A., Dias, J., Sobral, D., Aylett, R.: Caring for agents and agents that care: Building empathic relations with. In: AAMAS, pp. 194–201 (2004)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Si, M., Marsella, S.C., Pynadath, D.V.: Thespian: An architecture for interactive pedagogical drama. In: AIED (2005)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Si, M., Marsella, S.C., Pynadath, D.V.: Thespian: Using multi-agent fitting to craft interactive drama. In: AAMAS, pp. 21–28 (2005)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Boella, G., Torre, L.v.d.: Obligations as social constructs. In: Proc. of the Italian Conf. on Artificial Intelligence (AI*IA 2003), pp. 27–38 (2003)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Castelfranchi, C.: Commitments: From individual intentions to groups and organizations. In: ICMAS, pp. 41–48 (1995)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Airenti, G., Bara, B.G., Colombetti, M.: Conversation and bahavior games in the pragmatics of dialogue. Cognitive Science 17(2), 197–256 (1993)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Traum, D.R., Allen, J.F.: Discourse obligations in dialogue processing. In: ACL, pp. 1–8 (1994)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Grice, H.P.: Logic and conversation. In: Cole, P., Morgan, J. (eds.) Syntax and Semantics. Speech Acts, vol. 3, pp. 41–58. Academic Press, London (1975)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mateas, M., Stern, A.: Integrating plot, character and natural language processing in the interactive drama façade. In: Proc. of the Internat’l Conf. on Tech. for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (2003)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Traum, D.R., Swartout, W., Marsella, S.C., Gratch, J.: Fight, Flight, or Negotiate: Believable Strategies for Conversing Under Crisis. In: Panayiotopoulos, T., Gratch, J., Aylett, R.S., Ballin, D., Olivier, P., Rist, T. (eds.) IVA 2005. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 3661, pp. 52–64. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Clark, H. (ed.): Using Language. Cambridge University Press, New York (1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Johnson, W.L., Beal, C., Fowles-Winkler, A., Lauper, U., Marsella, S.C., Narayanan, S., Papachristou, D., Vilhjálmsson, H.H.: Tactical Language Training System: An interim report. In: Proc. of the Internat’l Conf. on Intelligent Tutoring Sys., pp. 336–345 (2004)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Marsella, S.C., Pynadath, D.V., Read, S.J.: PsychSim: Agent-based modeling of social interactions and influence. In: Proc.of the Internat’l Conf.on Cognitive Modeling, pp. 243–248 (2004)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pynadath, D.V., Marsella, S.C.: Psychsim: Modeling theory of mind with decision-theoretic agents. In: IJCAI, pp. 1181–1186 (2005)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Smallwood, R.D., Sondik, E.J.: The optimal control of partially observable Markov processes over a finite horizon. Operations Research 21, 1071–1088 (1973)CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gmytrasiewicz, P., Durfee, E.: A rigorous, operational formalization of recursive modeling. In: ICMAS, pp. 125–132 (1995)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pynadath, D.V., Marsella, S.C.: Fitting and compilation of multiagent models through piecewise linear functions. In: AAMAS, pp. 1197–1204 (2004)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Schegloff, E.A., Sacks, H.: Opening up closings. Semiotica 7, 289–327 (1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sacks, H., Schegloff, E.A., Jefferson, G.: A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50, 696–735 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mei Si
    • 1
  • Stacy C. Marsella
    • 1
  • David V. Pynadath
    • 1
  1. 1.Information Sciences InstituteUniversity of Southern CaliforniaMarina del Rey

Personalised recommendations