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How AI Is Shaking up the Games Industry

The video game industry has always been known for embracing innovation, be it through technological advancements or new forms of artistic impression. Game studios are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and the most recent breakthroughs in machine learning and artificial intelligence have the potential to revolutionize every aspect of the industry, from game production to player experience.

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Some studios are already using AI tools to create in-game images, while others are using AI to create and voice non-playable-characters. Roblox, one of the largest gaming platforms in the world, recently announced generative AI integration with Roblox Studio, a move which it says will ‘accelerate creator productivity’ and ‘significantly drop the technical skill needed to bring ideas to life’.

As with any new technology entering the market, concerns have been raised by some of the talented people working across the games industry who fear their jobs might one day be replaced by AI tools. But it’s unlikely that jobs in the video game industry will be replaced by AI. If anything, the wider adoption of AI could lead to new opportunities being created.

While it’s true that AI tools can automate some of the processes involved with video game development, I believe that AI integration will enhance game development rather than stifle it, freeing up time for developers, designers and programmers to focus on the more creative aspects of their job by giving them the tools they need to take care of the more mundane tasks.

That’s not to say that change doesn’t lie ahead; various disciplines across the video game industry will eventually be required to learn how to effectively prompt and integrate AI tools into their workflow to enhance their skillsets. These will be challenging skills to master as AI integration becomes more advanced and studios explore where AI implementation will deliver the best results, but game development will be all the more better for it.

How Designers and Game Studios Can Benefit From Generative AI Tools

Just picture this: a development team wants to create a title with many different characters, say 100. Currently, they’d first need to create a whole range of concepts to visualize their ideas. Then, once they’re happy with the results, each of those 100 characters would have to be manually drawn, painted, detailed, and processed until the quality is consistent.

With generative AI tools such as Stable Diffusion, artists can submit an existing piece of artwork and use it as a prompt to generate new artwork. This means instead of manually producing every piece of art for the game, these tools can then can produce artwork around pre-defined rules and stylistic guidelines, saving hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of manual labor and money.

This wouldn’t decrease the demand for human creativity; it simply shifts artists’ focus from performing repetitive tasks to overseeing their artistic vision. Those with the knowledge necessary to manipulate AI into achieving such tasks will undoubtedly be highly valued. The same will also hold true for programming, writing, and other aspects of game development.

Of course, these are only educated guesses, and only time will tell how correct this will be in practice. However, shifts like these have already happened in other industries. Let‘s take journalism and news outlets; major publications moved to algorithm-driven and machine-assisted article publishing long ago, yet the need for editors or reporters has never gone away. Instead, their roles evolved to stay relevant in modern times.

How AI Can Be Used to Build Adaptive Video Game Worlds

Optimizing game production would be a considerable gain, but AI has much more potential to bring to the table. Game creators like ourselves are constantly striving to push the limits of gaming and open new horizons for games as entertainment. Being a 200 billion dollar industry, we have to serve a vast audience of players, all with different preferences, needs, habits, backgrounds, and skill levels – which makes satisfying everyone a tricky endeavor.

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Just imagine how much more immersive role-playing-games could be if the characters inhabiting these virtual worlds were not just dispensers of pre-written text, but had actual personalities that could organically communicate with the player?

What if their behavior was not constrained by simple programming scripts, but also by their surroundings and world events, and could act upon them close to how a real person would? How challenging would a puzzle game be if it could learn as much from the player as the player learns from it?

Machine learning has the potential to allow for all of that and more. Technologies like reinforcement learning and pattern recognition can guide and evolve character behavior over time by quickly analyzing their actions to keep players engaged.

Previously unthinkable levels of interactivity and realism are coming into virtual worlds, where players will have powerful artificial storytellers serving their needs. A few years ago, this would have been a naïve dream, but the rapid development of AI now brings this into the realms of possibility while also making video games more inclusive.

There are various ways in which AI can be used to remove accessibility barriers, whether that’s players interacting with AI NPCs through voice support or game developers using AI assist agents to guide players through games.

It’s important to remember, though, that like any tool, the potential of artificial intelligence will always be defined by the person wielding it. Machine learning can only be as good as the materials it learns from, which is why our industry will only continue to thrive if we have the support of skilled and creative minds.

The Future of AI in Video Games

In our company, we‘ve already begun actively exploring some of the potential applications for AI in our production pipelines, keeping a keen eye on all of the most recent developments in this field and dedicating the time to learn the new tools available for us. While we are attempting to apply AI solutions to our projects, we have not committed to any particular approach as we realize there are still many unanswered questions.

I suspect that the next few years will mark a period of experimentation for video game developers and AI tools as they work to discover where these tools are best places to add the most value. Not just on the bottom line of game studios but on creating the best possible experiences for players, too.

That said, there are still plenty of challenges ahead. For one, many question whether the results of an AI’s work are transformative enough to be considered original. Legally speaking, this is an issue as AI-generated works are not applicable to copyright protection requirements because they’re not the direct result of human creativity. One could argue they should be as they’re directly the result of complex algorithms, with the programmer(s) in question as the author.

We’ve also got to consider the implications on the authors and creators whose work has been used as a part of the training data for the AI, as there is a risk of devaluing the work of human professionals and creative individuals who’ve contributed to its programming.

Of course, practically every technological breakthrough in human history has had various moral, economic, and ethical challenges. Developers must be brave enough to navigate these waters and make new discoveries, as there is little gain from fighting a battle against the inevitable. By embracing progress, developers instead have the opportunity to help shape it for the benefit of players, their colleagues, and the whole industry.

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