Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Research Profile: David Milam, SIAT

November 22, 2011

When David Milam finished his master's degree at Harvard, he worked in the software and design industry for several years before deciding to begin his PhD in Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University.

He hasn't regretted his decision. He says, "While at SIAT, I found avenues to pursue my creative passions. I returned to grad studies in 2007 because I was a little jaded in industry. That is, I wanted to be more than a production resource for an employer. My studies at SIAT enabled deep exploration, critical thinking, self-learning, and rich dialogue with faculty and peers around a topic I found interesting. I feel like I'm in the drivers seat now in terms of future opportunities."

His research into interactive game design explores how the "camera view" and motion on screen affect what game players see and how they play. His research is primarily with novice players who are less accustomed to 3D games, and the goal of his thesis is to draw out visual composition design strategies which will minimize frustration, retain player investment, and expand the accessibility of 3D games.

While working on his PhD research, he has presented work on visual motion in games at a conference on entertainment computing, design patterns in games at the Foundation of Digital Games Conference, and participated on a user experience panel at Siggraph.

David Milam's demo movie for SIGGRAPH

He adds, "In 2009 the games user research professional network started, and I've volunteered every year since. This has allowed me to interact with industry experts in the field and participate as a peer reviewer in ongoing research by my colleges."

He's had a number of conference publications which allowed him to receive valuable feedback from his supervisory committee and from expert reviewers in the field. They've all been valuable stepping stones in allowing him to break his research down into smaller pieces, before putting it all together in his dissertation.

He's also a recipient of the SFU President's Scholarship and an SFU Graduate Fellowship.

His plans are to finish his dissertation in spring 2012 and then consider a number of academic and industry opportunities. He says, "Many universities have game design and user experience openings. Companies like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft also have user experience divisions to improve the quality of their products."

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