Use of AI to Build Video Games is Popular, But Controversial

Generative AI is expected to play a big role in video game production, increasing development speed, reducing costs, and helping to come up with new ways for players to interact with characters. Major firms including Epic Games, Unity, Ubisoft and Roblox have all announced generative AI integrations for their development kits. Nonplayable characters — foils that act and speak independently — are soon to be wholly AI-powered rather than preprogrammed options. Publicly available AI tools are already commonly used by players creating user-generated game content. However, use of AI to create commercial games is not without controversy.

Some have expressed concern that machine learning will replace human effort, eliminating jobs in the creation pipeline. The companies that make the tools, as well as those in the process of implementing them, are emphasizing they will assist humans, rather than replace them by handling grunt work or providing inspiration and options.

“Game studios are already using the technology for all sorts of tasks, from helping craft virtual scenes and scripts to designing weapons and characters,” writes The Wall Street Journal, asserting “AI is building the next blockbuster video games.”

Electronic Arts is using AI to previsualize game concepts using digital sketches, complete with rough ideas for levels and challenges, as well as environmental features.

“These designs could take weeks to draw up by hand before and now can be produced in hours,” WSJ reports, quoting EA CTO for creative and development Marija Radulovic-Nastic saying “there is probably no game that we’re not thinking about some use cases for generative AI.”

EA is not alone. Sony’s Haven Studios is using generative AI to mock up characters, while Roblox is developing a machine learning system that will allow users to feed text-prompts into a program that will use those descriptions to generate objects and build out virtual worlds based on text prompts.

OpenAI’s Point-E text-to-3D modeler is one tool enabling such conveniences. China’s NetEase is in the early testing stages for a tool to diversify nonplayable character dialogue.

Last month, Game Observer reported that Daniel Ahmad, director of insights at game research firm Niko Partners “wrote on Twitter that ‘the first game version of ChatGPT’ will soon appear in NetEase’s ‘Justice Online,’” an upcoming  release in the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) category.

VentureBeat reports on pushback on aspects of AI use in games, writing that “voice actors criticized Altered AI’s use for work that actors themselves could accomplish” and “some actors’ motion-capture performances are allegedly being replicated by AI in games without proper compensation.”

How AI Could Change Video Games Forever (Video), IGN, 4/17/23

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