The immense technological development has revolutionized many of the modern industries. The increasing rate of digitalization makes many products and services more accessible, convenient and faster. A good example of the benefits technology can bring is the financial industry, which has been completely transformed in the recent decade. Fintech companies are now more widespread than ever before and digital banking services and platforms are introduced by almost every major bank around the world.
However, probably the industry that witnessed the biggest influence of the evolving pace of technological advancement is the one that is directly related to this field. Gaming has been reinvented from what it was when the legendary 1980 Pacman was released to the modern-day video games, featuring more characters, first-person modes, broader worlds and are in general, more realistic and pleasant to play.
Video games today can be enjoyed by billions thanks to the development of appropriate hardware devices, which are more accessible and affordable than ever before. The wider spread of the internet has led to an increasing number of multiplayer and massively multiplayer games. Such games are played by a greater number of people at a time.
However, other types of games, as well as multiplayer ones use artificial intelligence to make them more challenging or sometimes even more realistic. When AI technology is mentioned, the absolute majority of people immediately think of full-scale human-like creatures, robots that can make decisions for themselves. However, the truth is that AI technology is already widely used in many fields, including gaming and the current breakthroughs are expected to advance the player experience even further.
Artificial Intelligence in games – pushing the boundaries
As mentioned above, AI is very rarely represented and acknowledged as the technology it really is. It has been around for a long time now in many different ways and areas. A prominent WW2 mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing is known for preparing the base for the AI technology before the technology to run it on even existed.
The first stage of AI development in the context of gaming was when developers and scientists in the field decided to make a computer play chess. Once unbelievable became true when IBM’s deep blue won a chess game with the chess world champion and a grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997. This was truly revolutionary, the very beginning of the uprise of the AI technology in gaming.
Early games such as Pacman also used weaker, less developed AI systems. They were quickly followed by a number of innovative video games, utilizing the maximum potential of artificial intelligence in gaming.
Thanks to machine learning, which aims to study algorithms used for AI development, new possibilities arise daily. Almost every game nowadays comes with a feature that requires the use of AI. We have all come across bots in video games, non-player characters (NPCs), that are often not too difficult to defeat.
Every kind of game can make use of NPCs, starting from shooters to strategies and simulators. For example, the most popular multiplayer online battle arena game, League of Legends (LOL) uses AI technology in a few ways. First off, newly registered users are given a chance to practice with non-player characters, known as bots. They are designed to behave just like any other player would and come with different difficulty levels. They are fun to play against, however, the current stage of their development is still not as sophisticated as pro gamers would like them to be.
The other use that many other games often find as well is assisting non-player characters or units. Such in League of Legends are minions. They are automatically spawned bots that help in the fight against the opposing team. However, their behavior pattern is rather simple, reducing the role they play in-game.
This is only a single example of how games make the most out of the current AI technology. Other popular games, such as Counter-Strike and alike. However, the issue of their development remains there.
One other industry that is starting to use AI more and more often is gambling. As many national legislations are being liberalized to accommodate gambling, online casinos are popping up in almost every corner of the world. Australian slot games on online gambling platforms are leading the way in terms of AI use in the industry. This mainly is due to the fact that Australia is one of the fastest-growing gambling industries in the world. Other countries are also gradually starting to introduce AI in gambling, making it more challenging as well as smarter.
Before it would reach the gambling industry, AI was present in some of the most simple video games. Everyone remembers the Microsoft solitaire but not many realize that AI is also used to fuel card games both online and offline. In fact, such games are often used as test grounds for research and development.
What is the future of AI in gaming?
We know that what has been described above might not be the perception many have about artificial intelligence. People expect much more than just at a glance ‘pre-planned’ patterns in old video games. It is fair, since the popular culture, Hollywood movies, and the mainstream media created an exaggerated picture of artificial intelligence development.
However, the envisioned future might not be as far away. The main factor missing from what we have now is the ability to learn and develop. Self-learning AI is the answer to the future of gaming. This technology is able to learn and develop itself from the very point it is created. It uses data and information acquired throughout its existence and does not need any extra directives.
Many hope that self-learning AI will completely change the way we play video games today. The ability to develop will make game bots more challenging than ever before, potentially competing with multiplayer games. The overall experience will likely be more realistic, with more possibilities for both gamers and developers.
Some prospects of future AI technology are even wilder. Matthew Guzdial, an AI researcher and assistant professor at the University of Alberta says that self-learning AI can change not only games but the process of their development. He says that gaming software is the best place to test the novelty in AI. It offers a safe, easily observable space for trying new findings out. He says that the research is on the way to help self-learning AI develop or redevelop games by itself, without any training, only using the information it gets from original files. This is perfectly possible and might not even be far from now. Guzdial also added that AI will still not replace human game developers as it will only make the gaming experience better adjusted to individual players.
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