Artificial Intelligence is Replaying the Video Game Industry

Grace Byers looks at how video-game technology has changed over the last 50 years as we move into the digital age of streaming

Artificial intelligence has made significant changes to many industries over the last couple of years. Some of these include health, legal, retail, and music industries. Today I am going to take you through how artificial intelligence has altered the video game industry. 

You may already be aware of the topical platform changes that the gaming industry is dealing with currently. Previously, games were bought on discs and cartridges which were then used to either install the game or simply play it on a device. Nowadays, digital download is the main form of distribution, and in a new shift we are seeing the huge move to streaming games via platforms such as Steam or Google’s recent launch of its own video game streaming platform, Stadia. As well as this development we are also seeing the shift from regular streaming to cloud streaming. This brings up the question: “Will cloud streaming replace game consoles?”


Photo Credit: Mike Williams


Why use AI in Video Games? 🎮

Artificial intelligence is used in video games more than most people are aware of. The earliest recorded use of AI in video games dates back to 1978 where arcade games such as Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong had some form of artificial intelligence integrated into them. They were mainly responses to certain actions encoded into the games as well as some random moves. Even though the characters were not learning as they were being played, this was the first introduction to AI in video games. 

Pac-Man was first released in 1980 and had some elements resembling AI in it. There were four ghosts named Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde and each were programmed with their own individual personalities so that the game would never get boring. In turn, it would have behaviours that players could learn. For example, Blinky likes to chase Pac-Man while Pinky likes to ambush Pac-Man.

A widely used algorithm used to simulate artificial intelligence in video games is the finite state algorithm or finite state machine. The finite state algorithm represents and controls the execution flow of the video game. It consists of one or more states, but only one state can be active at a time. It works well as a way to implement artificial intelligence as it responds well to different scenarios in video games.

Finite State Machine

The most common use of artificial intelligence in most games at the moment is in non-player characters (commonly referred to as NPCs). A NPC is simply a character that is not controlled by the user, however, it is used to enhance the gaming experience. Artificial intelligence is used in NPCs in order to control their responses to actions users make in the game.

Video Games currently using AI 🎮

Artificial intelligence in “video games” actually dates back to 1948 when Alan Turing (popularly known as the father of computer science) and David Champernowne developed an algorithm to the popular board game chess. This algorithm was developed before the computer could even perform simple queries. This programme was called “TurboChamp”.

Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTAV) has artificial intelligence programmed into it. While autonomous vehicles are not yet permitted to roam the roads globally in the real world, it is not the case for grand theft auto 5. There is a certain amount of artificial intelligence implemented into the game to allow the cars to learn how to drive themselves. This concept was created by Harrison “Sentdex” Kinsley. It is not quite 

The team behind Red Dead Redemption 2 hoped to create an immersive experience for those playing the game. This includes a dynamic environment that changes realistically along with the moves that you take. 

Most impressive is the groundbreaking AI used in Call of Duty 2. There are many allied soldiers surrounding a player that are fully conscious of the changing surroundings about them. They can also warn players using a new, context-sensitive battle chatter system. They can draw enemy fire, and move tanks to shield as cover. They can also warn you of incoming troops and militant fire.

The Future of AI in Video Games 🎮

Graphic Credit: Maplestrip

Artificial intelligence is continuously improving. The more we train artificial intelligence and the more data we give it, the better it gets. This is true to say, especially in video games. Artificial intelligence learns from the player’s wins and losses. In recognizing these triumphs and failures, AI can then be used to identify where these happen and how they happen. 

The Chinese games market is set to reach $35 billion in 2021. The Chinese gaming market is huge, and is said to get bigger, with China having over 600 million “gamers” alone. This is a huge amount, these statistics are extremely promising for the Chinese market.

The video game industry is currently going through some big changes which are extremely exciting for gaming buffs. However, it will probably be some time until they catch up with the level of artificial intelligence that is out there and implement it.