Prof. Michael Nixon's headshot

Michael Nixon

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
Assistant Director, Technology, Coding and Society (TCS)

Programs: CCIT and DEM
Specialization: Al(agents), Human-computer interaction, Game design, Game studies.

Degrees and Institutions:

PhD, Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University
MSc, Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University

BSc, Computer Science, Vancouver Island University
Diploma, Digital Media Technology, Vancouver Island University

Recent Courses:

Fall Term: CCT111 Critical Coding, CCT261 Information Architecture and Usability (DEM), CCT361 Scripting for Management (DEM)
Winter Term: CCT111 Critical Coding, CCT211 Fundamentals of User Interface Programming, CCT461 Inside Emerging Technologies, CCT483 Play, Performance and Community in Digital Games

Research Areas:

Believable characters: believability is a challenging holistic problem for the presentation of animated virtual characters in interactive narrative, digital games, and training simulations. It requires the use of sound cognitive models (AI) and advanced procedural animation techniques. Additionally, it raises interesting questions around new kinds of natural user interfaces and sensors that allow humans to interact with and control these characters. This must all be coordinated within a narratively meaningful environment.

Extended reality: AR & VR present new opportunities for immersive experiences, particularly with the use of touch responsive controllers that provide reasonable fine articulation. These technologies also pose new challenges in teaching students how to understand their affordances as well as how to produce assets and environments for VR.

Procedural literacy: equipping humanists and social science learners with coding and related skills will help increase their opportunities educationally and in the work force. Additionally, it increases possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration in the academy and the foregrounding of human values in technical projects and their evaluation. 



Nixon, M., DiPaola, S., & Bernardet, U. (2018). An Eye Gaze Model for Controlling the Display of Social Status in Believable Virtual Humans. Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, 125–132. Retrieved from

Shakeri, H., Nixon, M., & DiPaola, S. (2017). Saliency-Based Artistic Abstraction With Deep Learning and Regression Trees. Journal of Imaging Science and Technology61(5).

Nixon, M., & DiPaola, S. (2017). The Hybrid Nature of User Interface in the Facilitation of Social Relationships & Nonverbal Behaviour as Game Mechanics. Presented at the Canadian Game Studies Association 2017, Toronto, Canada. (Refereed Abstract Submission)

Turner, J., Nixon, M., Bernardet, U., & DiPaola, S. (Eds.). (2016). Integrating Cognitive Architectures into Virtual Character Design. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from

Davies, R., & Nixon, M. (2016). Digitisation Fundamentals. In R. Siemens, R. Lane, & C. Crompton (Eds.), Doing Digital Humanities: Practice, Training and Research (163-176). London, UK: Routledge. (Invited)

Turner, J. O., Pasquier, P., & Nixon, M. (2014). Qiezli – A “Self-Absorbed” Creative Virtual Agent in Second Life. Metaverse Creativity, 4(1), 55–74.

Nixon, M., & Bizzocchi, J. (2014). Interaction Images promote Character Identification in Heavy Rain. Well Played Journal3(1), 43–64.

Tanenbaum, T., Seif El-Nasr, M., & Nixon, M. (Eds.). (2014). Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Worlds: Understanding and Designing Expressive Characters. Pittsburg, PA: ETC Press. Retrieved from

Nixon, M., Pasquier, P., & Seif El-Nasr, M. (2010). DelsArtMap: Applying Delsarte's Aesthetic System to Virtual Agents. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Vol. 6356, pp. 139-145). Presented at 10th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, Philadelphia: Springer.