Sana Alyaseri

Sana Alyaseri

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Video game content is usually created by a developer, but does this always have to be the case? That is the interesting topic Sana Alyaseri is exploring for her Doctor of Philosophy, which focuses on game development.

“We’re working on developing an evolutionary algorithm and use it in procedural content generation of games to get good quality game content.

“I’m interested in the enjoyment of the gamer, and for my PhD I’m investigating how to make this procedure a good experience for the gamer, focusing on the quality of the game content.”

The journey to the PhD
She has long dreamt of doing her PhD one day, Sana says.

“I’ve been a lecturer in computing and IT for 20 years, but started to realise that I really enjoy being involved in research. As part of my work I was involved in developing courses on creative software, including games, augmented reality and virtual reality. I found this area very interesting, and after some research I discovered creative technologies at AUT.”

Once she met Associate Professor Andy Connor, who is now her supervisor, there was no question about her applying to study at AUT.

“He was very interested because my background is in swarm intelligence and evolutionary algorithms. His research area is evolutionary algorithms and their applications in gaming. Because I’m interested in gaming, it was a perfect match.

“I may still be in the early stages of my PhD, but I’ve received very good support from Andy, and have found it very helpful to talk to him. I also appreciate my secondary supervisor, Jan Kruse, a senior lecturer in digital design.”

Balancing study and life
Fitting a PhD into her busy life isn’t always easy, admits Sana who balances study with her work as an IT lecturer and being a mother to four children.

“Finding a balance between study, work and family life can be challenging. I want to focus on finishing my PhD in time, and fortunately I have great support from my family as well as my supervisors. Because I live in the south, I appreciate that I can also study at the AUT South Campus if I need to and use the facilities for PhD students there.”

AUT offers a great environment for her study, Sana says.

“AUT has a positive energy. Whenever I’m on campus, the ideas keep on coming and I feel very creative, and can find the answers I’m looking for. That’s why I like coming here every day.”