Researchers are just beginning to experiment with blending modern AI and video games.
How Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize the Way Video Games Are Developed and Played
by Nick Statt | The Verge
If you asked video game fans what an idealized, not-yet-possible piece of interactive entertainment might look like in 10 or even 20 years from now, they might describe something eerily similar to the software featured in Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. In his novel, Card imagined a military-grade simulation anchored by an advanced, inscrutable artificial intelligence.
The Mind Game, as it’s called, is designed primarily to gauge the psychological state of young recruits, and it often presents its players with impossible situations to test their mental fortitude in the face of inescapable defeat. Yet the game is also endlessly procedural, generating environments and situations on the fly, and allows players to perform any action in a virtual world that they could in the real one. Going even further, it responds to the emotional and psychological state of its players, adapting and responding to human behavior and evolving over time. At one point, The Mind Game even draws upon a player’s memories to generate entire game worlds tailored to Ender’s past.
Putting aside the more morbid military applications of Card’s fantasy game (and the fact that the software ultimately develops sentience), The Mind Game is a solid starting point for a conversation about the future of video games and artificial intelligence. Why are games, and the AI used to both aid in creating them and drive the actions of virtual characters, not even remotely this sophisticated? And what tools or technologies do developers still require to reach this hypothetical fusion of AI and simulated reality?
These are questions researchers and game designers are just now starting to tackle as recent advances in the field of AI begin to move from experimental labs and into playable products and usable development tools. Until now, the kind of self-learning AI — namely the deep learning subset of the broader machine learning revolution — that’s led to advances in self-driving cars, computer vision, and natural language processing hasn’t really bled over into commercial game development. That’s despite the fact that some of these advancements in AI are thanks in part to software that’s improved itself through the act of playing video games, such as DeepMind’s unbeatable AlphaGo program and OpenAI’s Dota 2 bot that’s now capable of beating pro-level players.
But there exists a point on the horizon at which game developers could gain access to these tools and began to create immersive and intelligent games that utilize what today is considered cutting-edge AI research. The result would be development tools that automate the building of sophisticated games that can change and respond to player feedback, and in-game characters that can evolve the more you spend time with them. It sounds like fiction, but it’s closer to reality than we might think.