Seth Cooper
Associate Professor
Khoury College of Computer Sciences
Northeastern University
 
Media - Publications - Other Works - Games and Software - Students - Teaching - Awards - Misc
 
  I am an associate professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University. I received my PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington, advised by Zoran Popović. My current research focuses on using video games to solve difficult scientific problems; I have delivered multiple TED talks on the topic. I am co-creator of the scientific discovery games Foldit and Nanocrafter and early math educational games including Refraction and Treefrog Treasure. I have also done research in real-time animation for games. I have previously worked at the Center for Game Science (as creative director), Square Enix, Electronic Arts, Pixar Animation Studios and the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (on BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing).

If you are a student interested in working in game science research, feel free to contact me!
 
 
  Media  
 
 
Games Now!
The Promise of Tomorrow  -  NewTV  -  Computing Community Consortium Symposium
Nanocrafter STEM for All  -  Foldit STEM for All
TEDxPanthéonSorbonne  -  TEDxVancouver  -  TEDMED
The Contenders  -  Fold It
NPR  -  Brian Lehrer Live  -  GSummit  -  MedCrunch
Nature Medicine  -  Science
 
 
  Publications  
 
 
Jiayi Zhou, Chris Martens and Seth Cooper.
Authoring games with tile rewrite rule behavior trees.
Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2024).
[info]
 
 
Nicholas Osborn and Seth Cooper.
Asynchronous collaboration with quality-diversity search in human computation games.
Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2024).
 
 
Seth Cooper and Mahsa Bazzaz.
Literally unplayable: on constraint-based generation of uncompletable levels.
Proceedings of the FDG Workshop on Procedural Content Generation (2024).
[info]
 
 
Colan Biemer and Seth Cooper.
Solution path heuristics for predicting difficulty and enjoyment ratings of roguelike level segments.
Proceedings of the FDG Workshop on Procedural Content Generation (2024).
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Kutub Gandhi, Matthew Alexander Whitby, Mehmet Kosa, Seth Cooper, Elisa D. Mekler and Ioanna Iacovides.
A design framework for reflective play.
Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2024).
[link] [doi]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Latent combinational game design.
IEEE Transactions on Games (2023).
[link] [doi]
 
 
Johor Jara Gonzalez, Seth Cooper and Matthew Guzdial.
Mechanic maker 2.0: reinforcement learning for evaluating generated rules.
Proceedings of the Nineteenth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2023).
[link] [doi]
 
 
Seth Cooper, Faisal Abutarab, Emily Halina and Nathan Sturtevant.
Visual exploration of tile level datasets.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2023).
[link] [info]
 
 
Seth Cooper and Eden Balema.
Learning constrained graph layout for content generation.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2023).
[link]
 
 
Hao Mao and Seth Cooper.
Segment-wise level generation using iterative constrained extension.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2023).
[doi]
 
 
Venkata Sai Revanth Atmakuri, Seth Cooper and Matthew Guzdial.
Game level blending using a learned level representation.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2023).
[doi]
 
 
Seth Cooper and Matthew Guzdial.
path2level: constraint-based level generation from paths.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2023).
[doi] [info]
 
 
Mahsa Bazzaz and Seth Cooper.
Active learning for classifying 2D grid-based level completability.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2023).
[doi]
 
 
Joshua Aaron Miller, Libuše Hannah Vepřek, Sebastian Deterding and Seth Cooper.
Practical recommendations from a multi-perspective needs and challenges assessment of citizen science games.
PLoS ONE (2023).
[link] [doi]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
Sturgeon-GRAPH: constrained graph generation from examples.
Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2023).
[link] [doi] [video] [info]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Katherine Buse, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, Justin Siegel, Seth Cooper and Colin Milburn.
Wrapped in story: the affordances of narrative for citizen science games.
Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2023).
Best Paper
[link] [doi] [video]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
Sturgeon-MKIII: simultaneous level and example playthrough generation via constraint satisfaction with tile rewrite rules.
Proceedings of the FDG Workshop on Procedural Content Generation (2023).
[link] [doi] [info]
 
 
Seth Cooper, Emily Halina, Jichen Zhu and Matthew Guzdial.
Re-trainable Procedural Level Generation via Machine Learning (RT-PLGML) as game mechanic.
Proceedings of the FDG Workshop on Procedural Content Generation (2023).
[link] [doi]
 
 
Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Eliza Boetsch, Scott Eustis, Kutub Gandhi, Matt Rota, Archana Apte, Seth Cooper and Sara Wylie.
An effective online platform for crowd classification of coastal wetland loss.
Conservation Science and Practice (2023).
[link] [doi]
 
 
Kutub Gandhi, Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Scott Eustis, Sara Wylie and Seth Cooper.
Performance of Paid and Volunteer Image Labeling in Citizen Science — A Retrospective Analysis.
Proceedings of the 10th AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing (2022).
[link]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
Sturgeon: tile-based procedural level generation via learned and designed constraints.
Proceedings of the Eighteenth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2022).
[link] [video]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
tile2tile: learning game filters for platformer style transfer.
Proceedings of the Eighteenth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2022).
[link] [video]
 
 
Alexander D. Stoneman, Josh Aaron Miller and Seth Cooper.
Effects of player-level matchmaking methods in a live citizen science game.
Proceedings of the Eighteenth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2022).
[link]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Kutub Gandhi, Anna Gander and Seth Cooper.
A survey of citizen science gaming experiences.
Citizen Science: Theory and Practice (2022).
[link]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
Constraint-based 2D tile game blending in the Sturgeon system.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2022).
[link] [video]
 
 
Colan F. Biemer and Seth Cooper.
Level assembly as a Markov decision process.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2022).
[link] [video]
 
 
Chaima Jemmali, Magy Seif El-Nasr and Seth Cooper.
The effects of adaptive procedural levels on engagement and performance in an educational programming game.
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2022).
[link]
 
 
Kutub Gandhi, Josh Aaron Miller and Seth Cooper.
“Philosophy is seeped into every brick” - weaving reflective elements into mass-market games.
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2022).
[link]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
A case study of quality-diversity search in human computation.
Human Computation (2022).
[link]
 
 
Colan F. Biemer and Seth Cooper.
On linking level segments.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2022).
Best Paper Nominee
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Ordering levels in human computation games using playtraces and level structure.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2022).
[link]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller and Seth Cooper.
Barriers to expertise in citizen science games.
Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2022).
[link]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller and Seth Cooper.
Case studies in game-based complex learning.
Multimodal Technologies and Interaction (2021).
[link]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Britton Horn, Matthew Guthrie, Jonathan Romano, Guy Geva, Celia David, Amy Robinson Sterling and Seth Cooper.
How do players and developers of citizen science games conceptualize skill chains?
Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (2021).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Procedural Content Generation using Behavior Trees (PCGBT).
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2021).
[link]
 
 
Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Sara Wylie and Seth Cooper.
Exploring Q-learning for adaptive difficulty in a tile-based image labeling game.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2021).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Dungeon and platformer level blending and generation using conditional VAEs.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2021).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
An online system for player-vs-level matchmaking in human computation games.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2021).
[link]
 
 
Kutub Gandhi, Josh Aaron Miller, Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Archana Apte, Borna Fatehi, Sara Wylie and Seth Cooper.
A comparison of augmented reality and browser versions of a citizen science game.
Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2021).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Generating and blending game levels via quality-diversity in the latent space of a variational autoencoder.
Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2021).
[link]
 
 
Pratheep Kumar Paranthaman, Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Applying rapid crowdsourced playtesting to a human computation game.
Proceedings of the FDG Game Analytics Workshop (2021).
[link]
 
 
Colan F. Biemer, Alejandro Hervella and Seth Cooper.
Gram-Elites: n-gram based quality-diversity search.
Proceedings of the FDG Workshop on Procedural Content Generation (2021).
[link]
 
 
Aditya Ponnada, Seth Cooper, Qu Tang, Binod Thapa-Chhetry, Josh Aaron Miller, Dinesh John and Stephen Intille.
Signaligner Pro: a tool to explore and annotate multi-day raw accelerometer data.
2021 IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops (2021).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Zhihan Yang, Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Game level clustering and generation using Gaussian Mixture VAEs.
Proceedings of the Sixteenth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2020).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Evaluating and comparing skill chains and rating systems for dynamic difficulty adjustment.
Proceedings of the Sixteenth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (2020).
[link]
 
 
Chaima Jemmali, Carter Ithier, Seth Cooper and Magy Seif El-Nasr.
Grammar based modular level generator for a programming puzzle game.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2020).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar, Zhihan Yang and Seth Cooper.
Conditional level generation and game blending.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2020).
[link]
 
 
Vivian Lee, Nathan Partlan and Seth Cooper.
Precomputing player movement in platformers for level generation with reachability constraints.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2020).
[link]
 
 
Seth Cooper and Anurag Sarkar.
Pathfinding agents for platformer level repair.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2020).
[link]
 
 
Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Borna Fatehi, Melanie Smith, Avery Rosenbloom, Josh Aaron Miller, Magy Seif El-Nasr, Sara Wylie and Seth Cooper.
Tile-o-Scope AR: an augmented reality tabletop image labeling game toolkit.
Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2020).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Sequential segment-based level generation and blending using variational autoencoders.
Proceedings of the FDG Workshop on Procedural Content Generation (2020).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Towards game design via creative ML (GDCML).
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2020).
Best Paper Candidate
[link]
 
 
Julia Koehler Leman, Brian D. Weitzner, Steven M. Lewis et al.
Macromolecular modeling and design in Rosetta: recent methods and frameworks.
Nature Methods (2020).
[link]
 
 
Firas Khatib, Ambroise Desfosses, Foldit Players, Brian Koepnick, Jeff Flatten, Zoran Popović, David Baker, Seth Cooper, Irina Gutsche and Scott Horowitz.
Building de novo cryo-electron microscopy structures collaboratively with citizen scientists.
PLOS Biology (2019).
[link]
 
 
Andrew T. Walter, Benjamin Boskin, Seth Cooper and Panagiotis Manolios.
Gamification of loop-invariant discovery from code.
Proceedings of the 7th AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing (2019).
[link]
 
 
Pratheep Kumar Paranthaman and Seth Cooper.
ARAPID: towards integrating crowdsourced playtesting into the game development environment.
Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (2019).
[link]
 
 
Aditya Ponnada, Seth Cooper, Binod Thapa-Chhetry, Josh Aaron Miller, Dinesh John and Stephen Intille.
Designing videogames to crowdsource accelerometer data annotation for activity recognition research.
Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (2019).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Sara Wylie and Seth Cooper.
Using Q-learning for sequencing level difficulties in a citizen science matching game.
Extended Abstracts of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion Extended Abstracts (2019).
[link]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Vivian Lee, Seth Cooper and Magy Seif El-Nasr.
Large-scale analysis of visualization options in a citizen science game.
Extended Abstracts of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion Extended Abstracts (2019).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Using a disjoint skill model for game and task difficulty in human computation games.
Extended Abstracts of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion Extended Abstracts (2019).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar, Zhihan Yang and Seth Cooper.
Controllable level blending between games using variational autoencoders.
Proceedings of the Experimental AI in Games Workshop (2019).
[link]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Using rating arrays to estimate score distributions for player-versus-level matchmaking.
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2019).
[link]
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Uttkarsh Narayan, Matthew Hantsbarger, Seth Cooper and Magy Seif El-Nasr.
Expertise and engagement: re-designing citizen science games with players' minds in mind.
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2019).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Inferring and comparing game difficulty curves using player-vs-level match data.
Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Games (2019).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Brian Koepnick et al.
De novo protein design by citizen scientists.
Nature (2019).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Anurag Sarkar and Seth Cooper.
Transforming game difficulty curves using function composition.
Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2019).
[link]
 
 
Thomas Muender, Sadaab Ali Gulani, Lauren Westendorf, Clarissa Verish, Rainer Malaka, Orit Shaer and Seth Cooper.
Comparison of mouse and multi-touch for protein structure manipulation in a citizen science game interface.
Journal of Science Communication (2019).
[link]
 
 
Lorna Dsilva, Shubhi Mittal, Brian Koepnick, Jeff Flatten, Seth Cooper and Scott Horowitz.
Creating custom Foldit puzzles for teaching biochemistry.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education (2019).
[link] [PubMed]
 
  Show more...  
 
  Other Works  
 
 
Josh Aaron Miller, Firas Khatib, Haley Hammond, Seth Cooper and Scott Horowitz.
Introducing Foldit Education Mode.
Correspondence, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology (2020).
[link]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
Massively multiplayer research: gamification and (citizen) science.
In Steffen P. Walz and Sebastian Deterding, eds.
The Gameful World: Approaches, Issues, Applications.
Book chapter, The MIT Press (2015).
[link] [The MIT Press] [Amazon]
 
 
Seth Cooper.
A framework for scientific discovery through video games.
Book, ACM and Morgan & Claypool (2014).
[link] [Amazon]
 
 
Seth Cooper, Firas Khatib and David Baker.
Increasing public involvement in structural biology.
Commentary, Structure (2013).
[link] [PubMed]
 
 
Seth Cooper and the Foldit Team.
Foldit screenshot of a retroviral protease.
Digital image (2011), display at Wing Luke Museum (2012).
 
 
Seth Cooper.
A framework for scientific discovery through video games.
Doctoral dissertation, University of Washington (2011).
[link]
 
 
  Games and Software  
 
 
Foldit
A scientific discovery game about protein folding and design
Curry Stone Design Prize Social Design Circle Honoree (2017)
The Dr. Frank H. Netter Award for Special Contributions to Medical Education (2013)
Honorable Mention (Technical Excellence), Independent Games Festival (2013)
Category Winner (Behavioral Change), Katerva Award (2012)
1st Place (Interactive Games), NSF International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge (2011)
Innovation of the Year, TechFlash Newsmaker Awards (2011)
Finalist, I/ITSEC Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (2011)
Finalist, Games for Change Direct Impact Award (2011)
Nominee, World Technology Award (2010)
Runner up, Madrona Prize (2008)
[website (download required)]
 
 
Foldit Standalone
A protein structure manipulation application based on the Foldit interface
[link (download and license required)]
 
 
Sturgeon
A system for constraint-based procedural level generation
[code]
 
 
level2image
A tool for making marked-up images of 2D tile game levels
[code]
 
 
pathfinding-repair
A tool for using pathfinding agents to repair uncompletable game levels
[code]
 
 
Cartoscope
A platform for citizen science image analysis and mapping
[website]
 
 
Signaligner Pro
An interactive tool for algorithm-assisted exploration and annotation of raw accelerometer data
[website (download required)]
 
 
Nanocrafter
A scientific discovery game about building nanomachines
Top Ten Citizen Science Projects, SciStarter (2015)
Top 10 (Interactives), NSF Visualization Challenge (2015)
Best Social Media Crowdsourcing, I/ITSEC Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (2014)
 
 
Refraction
An educational puzzle game about fractional partitioning
Best Work (Primary School category), 38th NHK Japan Prize (2011)
Top 25, Kongregate Summer Mobile Game Contest (2011)
Grand Prize: Best in Show Award, Disney Learning Challenge, SIGGRAPH (2010)
Weekly 2nd Place, kongregate.com (2010)
 
  Show more...  
 
  Students  
 
Current
PhD Students
   Fiona Shyne
   Kaylah Facey
   Mahsa Bazzaz
   Kutub Gandhi
   Colan Biemer
 
 
Past
Postdocs
   Pratheep Kumar Paranthaman
PhD Students
   Anurag Sarkar
   Josh Aaron Miller (co-advised with Magy Seif El-Nasr)
   Chaima Jemmali (co-advised with Magy Seif El-Nasr)
   Sofia Eleni Spatharioti
   Britton Horn (co-advised with Gillian Smith)
 
  Teaching  
 
  • CS4850/5850: Building Game Engines, Graduate/Undergraduate (2020 Spring)
  • CS3520: Programming in C++, Undergraduate (2021 Spring, 2020 Fall, 2019 Fall, 2019 Spring, 2018 Fall, 2017 Fall, 2015 Fall)
  • CS3540: Game Programming, Undergraduate (2018 Spring)
  • CS7180: Human Computation and Crowdsourcing, Graduate (2017 Spring)
  • CS5310: Computer Graphics, Graduate (2016 Spring)
 
  Awards  
   
  Misc