Gaming and Artificial Intelligence; the race is on
Updated: Nov 9, 2021
In 1997 it happened. IBM’s “Deep Blue”, a chess-playing computer defeated Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion at the time. This, for me, was the first time I have heard of an AI and for the gaming industry, this would mark a turning point when it comes to AI and the possibilities it brings.
AI has gone a long way since then. It is involved in many online products, and in many ways shapes how we experience the world and not just in games. Google Search, Amazon Platform, Facebook ads – All use AI in their processes. In order to realize how profound the shift towards AI is, we can look at the following fun fact: According to CB Insights, Investments in the AI industry that were estimated in 2011 at 282 Million dollars, have broken an all-time record in 2016 and are estimated at 5 Billion dollars. An increase of almost 1800% in 5 years.
So, what is AI?
Artificial intelligence is software that can perform complex tasks of learning at a level that matches or surpasses that of humans.
How does it work?
The software sifts through Millions of examples (users, search words, phone records), and then, it becomes competent in the task it was meant to do. A simple example: Go to Google and write the word “how”. Google will present a list with the most relevant completions of the sentence. The more users pressed “how” in the past, the more accurate Google’s prediction.
Diapers and Beer
There is a famous case study often learned in MBA programs regarding an American retail chain called “Osco Drugs” that decided to let “NCR Corp” run an analysis on its data, and found that there is a correlation between diapers purchases and beer. “Osco” put them closer to each other and saw a huge bump in sales of the two. Some claim that beer and diapers were never put together, and that this whole thing is a myth, however, it doesn’t matter now. This case study created the conception that dominates today’s gaming industry of understanding data and responding to its analysis. However, this conception is Yesterday's front. Responding to past data will always result in companies chasing their own tail as data changes.
The surprising connection between gaming and AI
Not many know this, but it was the gaming industry that pushed for AI advancements. The gaming industry increased the demand for computing power, which in turn pushed for the invention of parallel computing that AI is based upon. And yet, the uses for AI in the gaming world are progressing slowly.
AI as a driver for better UX
After gaming companies build their game economy they know how an average user should progress in the game. The problem many companies encounter is with users who are far from the average. This is where AI comes in. By using the right AI, companies can minimize, avoid and correct experiences that are outside of the norm. For example, Social Casino games can monitor users who experience out-of-the-norm “Bad Luck” while it happened and let them have predefined “Good Luck”. The same goes for users who experienced an extraordinary win streak which can be just as destructive as “Bad Luck”.
AI as a driver for new games
Another use for AI is creating “smart bots” who disguise themselves as human users. Creating such bots will allow companies to launch games that previously required a critical mass of users. This will open up a world of new possibilities for developers with new kinds of games that simulate human interaction.
Like being used in many industries, AI will soon be widely used in the gaming industry as well. The first to truly master AI will probably be the one who will set the tone for years to come. Many companies are already in the race, the question is, who will get to the finish line first?