The rapid advancement of generative artificial intelligence (AI) is not only transforming human life but also revolutionizing the gaming industry. One area where AI is poised to make a significant impact is in the development of non-playable characters (NPCs). Traditionally, NPCs in video games have operated on limited scripts, but with the advent of AI, they have the potential to evolve beyond predefined roles. Inworld AI, in partnership with Microsoft Xbox, is leading the way in this transformation by creating technologies that allow NPCs to adapt to player behavior, learn from interactions, and contribute to a more immersive game world. This paradigm shift in NPC AI not only enhances gameplay but also presents a significant opportunity for gaming companies and developers to increase player engagement, replayability, retention, and revenue.
The gaming industry has long recognized the impact of the interaction between powerful chips and gaming, with Nvidia being at the forefront of technological advancements. However, the true potential of AI in gaming is only just beginning to be realized. According to John Spitzer, vice president of developer and performance technology at Nvidia, AI’s influence on non-playable characters is a key test case that game developers are eager to explore. The technology behind AI NPCs will act as a catalyst for a new era of storytelling, creative expression, and innovative gameplay. Bing Gordon, an Inworld advisor and former chief creative officer at Electronic Arts, believes that AI will not only transform the gaming experience but also reshape the role of both gamers and game designers. By enabling immersive worlds, sophisticated narratives, and AI-influenced game mechanics, AI has the potential to increase player engagement and draw them deeper into the gaming fantasy.
The Opportunities for Gen AI in Gaming Production
While the impact of gen AI extends to various professional tasks, gaming production stands out as the first area where it is expected to make a major impact. By utilizing AI in initial storyboard design and NPC dialogue creation, developers can free up valuable time to focus on more immersive and creative aspects of game development. Bain & Company’s media and entertainment practice partner, Anders Christofferson, highlights that AI is already taking on tasks such as preproduction and planning game content. In the next five to ten years, AI is expected to manage more than half of game development, allowing for faster delivery and enhanced quality. Moreover, the proliferation of gen AI opens up the development process to include the average gamer in content creation, with user-generated content and player-driven narratives becoming more prevalent.
The Role of AI in Overcoming Challenges
Despite the potential of AI in gaming, it is important to acknowledge the existing human talent shortage in the software engineering space. AI is not a short-term solution to this labor issue but has the potential to empower developers by freeing up time for creative tasks and enabling them to experiment with the new technology. Studies have shown that incorporating AI into the workforce increases productivity, and this extends to gaming as well. Additionally, as gen AI continues to evolve, there will be a learning curve to fully understand its capabilities and implementation. The dynamic nature of the gaming industry requires continual learning and adaptation to maximize the potential of gen AI.
Implementing AI in gaming comes with its own set of challenges. Julian Togelius, associate professor of computer science and engineering at New York University, describes the current state of AI implementation in gaming as a “medium-size deal.” While generative AI is already in use for various game development processes, achieving the right balance of predictability and unpredictability in NPCs proves to be a challenge. Large language models (LLMs) used in AI sometimes generate responses that deviate from context or rational meaning, resulting in hallucinations. Video games, however, are designed for predictable NPCs that adhere to hand-crafted scripts. Striking a balance between predictable and open-ended NPCs will be crucial to AI’s wider use in the gaming industry.
The advent of generative AI in gaming has the potential to redefine the gaming experience. The paradigm shift in NPC AI allows for more immersive gameplay, enhanced player engagement, and increased revenue for gaming companies. With the ability to adapt to player behavior and contribute to a living, breathing game world, AI NPCs open up a world of storytelling, creative expression, and innovative gameplay. While challenges exist, such as achieving the right balance between predictability and unpredictability, the opportunities presented by gen AI in gaming production are undeniable. As the industry continues to evolve, gen AI may enable the average gamer to participate in content creation and shape the future of gaming. The future of gaming is here, and it is powered by the transformative potential of generative AI.