Most modern video games – be they combat games, racing games or strategy adventures – have various components powered by AI.
The broad aim of utilising AI in gaming is to take the virtual and make it real.
AI’s aspirations in gaming tie into an overarching aim that has always been present in gaming – how to generate the most realistic experience possible on a virtual platform. AI is said to be the latest and most prominent tool in that journey towards reality, and it’s finding a fertile arena in game development.
AI in gaming helps generate realistic experiences while making games more engaging, holding the player’s interest more while gaming, and providing a more rewarding gaming experience over time.
How popular is gaming?
Well, if you listen to an active IT support company like Mustard IT, they’ll tell you that they often encounter ideas and terminology common to gaming in their clients. IT repair and maintenance issues are often viewed or verbally diagnosed in gaming terms, giving some indication that even the staid office workers of the modern era often have a game they’re waiting to get back to at home!
The “popularity” of gaming is perhaps a misnomer－gaming is a part of modern life and seems to run much deeper than merely being a popular pastime. For many, it’s a way of life, and much more than simply a favourite activity.
Millions of people game every day, making for a highly dynamic development arena – one in which AI is finding sleek application.
AI might not have been developed exclusively for gaming, but it’s hard to imagine a more applicable arena in which its potential can rise so swiftly without any negative implications, or a better platform than gaming in which to beta AI.
AI boosts gaming, gaming boosts AI
In a symbiotic feedback loop, gaming and AI are currently involved in a sort of pas de deux where AI inputs enhance gaming, while gaming in turn responds by flagging algorithm and other potential applications where AI might enhance the player experience. Less competing application and more a match made in heaven, both parties enhance one another by virtue of gaming’s desire to be more ‘real’ than ever, and AI’s ability to make it happen.
Modern games are being built to study their own patterns to enhance their algorithms.
That’s a snippet of blur where gaming is AI, or AI is assimilated into the game so that the game can begin to grow its own intelligence.
What came first, the game or AI?
While most people might argue that the game is the chicken and AI the egg (or vice-versa!), the fact is that games have always demanded a savviness that other computing tasks haven’t. Working on an Excel spreadsheet might be potentially complex, involve many smart formulas, and might produce some impressive worksheets, but there’s nothing quite like the arena that accommodates the human element in fast paced gaming.
Such a two-dimensional imagining of AI in gaming is circumscribed, however.
There are other technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and even Mixed Reality (MR) that are entering the gaming arena and set to make huge inroads over the next decade. Although it might be anathema to developers in any one of these specific fields to say so, for the end user, it’s all a bit of a blur. It’s hard to say, “this is AI” and “this is VR” at times because an innate intelligence suffuses all these technologies.
Yes, AI is the singular pursuit of a learning intelligence, but as other technologies make gaming more intelligent as a phenomenon, it’s hard to say this right here is AI, but this over here is really VR, devoid of any AI algorithms or other true artificial intelligence aspects. The user experience defines itself differently to the many components that might make up modern games, too, making it a bit ambitious to draw a clear line between where gaming technology ends and AI steps in.
Gaming is an arena where, due to its desire to emulate reality and its human element component, there was always an element of intuition and intelligence in its build. Games may have been able to toggle between play levels based on player experience level, but now they can toggle based on their own understanding of player input. AI is set to accelerate both the quality of play and the intuition a game itself displays towards the player.
All told, it’s a great time to be gaming!
AI at the back end of gaming
Fundamentally, AI runs on the information available to it－all the intelligence in the world isn’t much use when there’s nothing to work with, nothing to assimilate.
AI in gaming thus employs its gathered data to generate and embellish the existence of game characters, mould their actions, and ultimately present the ‘most real’ virtual experience it can. The single biggest upshot of this is that the line between reality and virtual reality blurs. Increasingly natural and realistic characters now populate games, and there’s a definite camp within gamers who spurn any other objective.
Much like fine art was once firmly dedicated to the most natural and accurate rendering of a subject (before the Picassos and Dalis of the world turned that upside down), so too is gaming on a mission to bring games to life with an uncanny sense of reality.
AI and its algorithms are here to do that; and with gaming, it has a huge amount of information to work with.
The gaming arena is ideal for testing and actualising AI’s potential overall. Not only is there a lot of intel available for AI to get a good handle on what’s desired of it, gaming activities, rewards and game states are unambiguous－another huge leg up for dynamic AI to really show what it’s capable of.
Although in its infancy, the marriage of AI and gaming will likely be the most productive relationship among the many that AI will build going forward, one in which AI can be sampled and applied to magnificent effect, and where the gamers of the future are truly going to get their game on!
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