From phones to washing machines, we’ve been hard-pushed to find any upcoming devices that don’t have some AI-powered features as a key selling point. artificial intelligence and machine learning are creating the next generation of the whole leisure industry.

It’s starting to feel like every area of the tech world is dipping its toes into artificial intelligence (AI). Industry leaders truly believe that the integration of AI capabilities will transform the way we interact with our devices and the world around us, and they’re making sure we know about it.

It’s interesting, then, that the gaming industry has been relatively quiet when it comes to AI developments, because its potential in this field is just as great. Perhaps it’s because AI isn’t a particularly new thing in gaming. Machine learning, context-sensitive behaviour, neural networks, natural language parsing – all of these techniques have been pushing games forward for years now. Black and White may have been released in 2001, but it’s still one of the best examples of machine learning in a game.

AI is creating the next generation of the whole leisure industry

Today, a raft of improvements in technology (consoles, cloud/connectedness, ultra-powerful graphics cards, VR/headsets, rendering algorithms) are powering artificial intelligence which in turn delivers ever more impressive environments in which virtual characters exhibit human behaviors and intelligence.

Thanks to the modern gaming industry, we can now spend our evenings wandering around photorealistic game worlds, like the post-apocalyptic Boston of Fallout 4 or Grand Theft Auto V’s Los Santos, instead of doing things like ‘seeing people’ and ‘engaging in human interaction of any kind.

Then, there is AI’s contribution to the gaming business itself, rather than the gaming experience. Investors realise that the gaming industry is rapidly blending with real-world experiences (Disney World), films and other media (The Lego Movie), or merchandise (Crazy Birds) and that the monetization opportunities of this blended world will continue to grow with our increased leisure time and the addition of virtual and immersive experiences – powered by AI.

In this respect, artificial intelligence and machine learning are creating the next generation of the whole leisure industry.

Improved visuals

One of the most immediately noticeable things AI could improve in gaming is its visual quality. With deep learning and the ever-growing amounts of data at our disposal we could see game environments and game characters become more realistic and natural than ever before. Even the way characters move could become more believable. Most games have a character animations driven by several hundred canned animations that were motion captured and they use a very old school algorithm to piece these chunks together. However, there are also ways in which AI could work behind the scenes to improve our games without such immediately obvious results.

Personalized play

The concept of personalized service through AI could also change our games without necessarily bringing them more directly into our real lives. There’s more data about individual players out there than ever, and improved AI means more ways to process it.  With the help of AI we could see MMORPGs that push players in the direction of quests and other players which compliment their style, more intelligent NPCs who feel like they’re naturally conversing with your characters, more challenging enemies who learn your combat patterns.

Design tools

It’s worth, then, considering the role AI could play in overall game design rather than just in changing game content – to work for game designers and impact their work rather than to directly impact players. With enough developments we could one day see this AI and data collection work together to empower designers to make the best possible systems and decisions for their creations.

Whether it’s changing the way we interact with our games, the content within them, or the way they’re designed, it’s undeniable that AI will continue to revolutionize the gaming industry – perhaps at a faster rate than it ever has before.

How AI is improving game industry

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