How Ai Research Is Bringing Game Characters To Life

by Rachel Baker on October 15, 2014

One of the things I like about RPG (Role Playing Games) is if you are lucky enough to ‘get the game’ you can find yourself completely immersed in the world, and seamlessly feel you are making decisions throughout the game based on the way other NPCs (non-player characters) have behaved, or even how another decision played out during a previous gameplay.

I love Skyrim, and Fallout because I can be “me” in whatever iteration I want for how many hours I plan on playing through the game…again. I like Lara Croft, particularly the newest one, because I am enjoying the character development of the Lara Croft origin story. I am also now enjoying Shadows of Mordor because I feel as if I’m immersing myself in a world that previously we could watch and admire, but never really truly be a part of (sort of like inclusive feeling you get with the wide-panning cinematic shots of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies).

When I’m in a reading rut, or I’m working through a character I’m trying to write, I put in a specific game. I think about the elements I love, and those I hate, from plot to setting to characters. All of this helps me to figure out how to get through my writing or reading block because it helps me focus.

Below is a story about some of the awesome advances in gaming technology that will one day bring character development and story telling to a whole new level. I do not think AI characters will bring down books or take the place of authors. I think they will, however, enhance stories in a way that will be akin to making every YA book into a movie, or making video games into a series of books that tell the backstory of different elements too vast to address in the story (like Dragon Age has done).

I am excited about what the future will hold when it comes to reading and interacting with my favorite characters.

Ghosts in the machine: how AI research is bringing game characters to life.

The ambition to create “real”, believable characters has been a cornerstone of literature since the 19th century. The Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin praised Fyodor Dostoyevsky for his ability to give each of his protagonists their own sets of beliefs, “as if the character were not an object of authorial discourse, but rather a fully valid, autonomous carrier of his own individual word”.

Fast forward a hundred years and writers such as Joseph Conrad and Virginia Woolf were even more enthralled with the idea of character autonomy.

During the 1950s, the British novelist Henry Green grew increasingly frustrated with the tyranny he had over his characters, eventually writing novels composed almost entirely of dialogue. “Because if you want to create life,” said Green in a lecture for the BBC, “the one way not to go about it is by explanation.”

The digital landscape of the 21st century has created opportunities for Green’s ideas to be explored from a different perspective.

From virtual assistants such as Siri to conversational artificial intelligence (AI) such as Cleverbot, to games that learn from thousands of online players, the idea of characters who speak, think and feel has slid into reality.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Amazon Wish ListEvernoteFlipboardInstapaperNewsVineSpringpadWordPressTypePad PostStumbleUponLiveJournalPocketRedditShare

Previous post:

Next post: