Artificial intelligence (AI) and video games have been linked almost from the beginning. The first record of a video game was in 1950 with Bertie the Brain and it consisted of a four meter machine where you could play tic tac toe.
This supercomputer was presented for the National Exhibition of Canada and disassembled once the event was over. For many, the fact that it was only exposed for several weeks does not make it worthy of being the first video game in history, something that is attributed to Tennis for Two , made in 1958.
A few years earlier, in Great Britain, several scientists developed a computer capable of playing Nim, a mathematical game, in which the machine usually came out the winner. These first steps of AI in video games culminated in Spacewar! , a space game developed at the University of Massachusetts and in which the user controls a spaceship, while the AI, through algorithms, is in charge of controlling another ship and attacking the player.
In this way, a very beneficial relationship began for the millions of players who arrived in subsequent years.
The important relationship between artificial intelligence and video games
When talking about artificial intelligence, the name of one of the most famous in history, Deep Blue, usually comes up in the conversation . His duels in the 1990s against Gary Kasparov , world chess champion, sparked worldwide conversations about the use of these technologies and their influence in the future.
Ten years before the machine surpassed man, ghosts had taken over the world. And it is that Pac-Man (better known around here as Pac-Man), launched in the 70s, was and continues to be one of the most played video games in history and has the essential help of AI.
The game is as simple as it is attractive. A maze, four ghosts and a circle with a mouth, controlled by the user, who has to go through the maze while eating the points along the way. The role of the AI is to control the ghosts whose mission is to catch you and each one has a different behavior.
While Blinky (red ghost) is in charge of chasing you, Pinky (pink ghost) tries to predict your movements. The remaining two, Clyde (orange) and Inky (blue) lurk from afar. Different behaviors that are the key to the game.
Nor should we overlook the pioneers in the use of AI, such as Atari with the classic Pong or later ones such as Super Mario Bros , which still continues with the same force. But if you have to mention a time, it’s the 90s, and the change from an AI with linear or very simple behaviors to the generation of rivals with more complex strategies.
This favored the appearance of great strategy games with NPCs (Non Playable Characters) with varied behaviors. Classics such as StarCraft in which the level of difficulty depended on the AI or the award-winning Half-Life are remembered at this time , in which the detail and interaction of the NPCs with the protagonist and with each other have turned it into a game of worship.
Entering the 21st century, AI has become one more element of video games and it continues to evolve with an eye on improving the gaming experience.
Artificial intelligence in video games today
As we have commented in the previous point, at first the AI was applied to the behavior of the NPCs and to the automatic generation of levels and worlds. Today, this practice is still very common in most games.
Great classics such as Grand Theft Auto , FIFA or Assasins Creed , available on Xbox Game Pass , continue to apply this technology to, on the one hand, improve the behavior of the NPCs and, on the other, reduce costs and work times.
But the AI has evolved to a great extent during these years and has made it possible to generate NPCs not only with human behavior but also with feelings and emotions. They also have the ability to interact jointly with each other and resolve conflicts depending on their environment, situation, moment… In the end, you want the characters that are not controllable to have human behavior.
Tools with the ability to generate games on the fly are also beginning to be developed. With the data analysis, there are AIs trained to generate a video game with theme and genre, completely enjoyable.
Another of the applications that is being given to AI is the remastering of great classics. At a time when both the movie and video game industries are retrieving gems from the past, AI helps simplify that process. Thanks to the antagonistic generative networks or Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN ) classic games are being remastered and adapted to new generation consoles, improving the experience.
The video game industry is advancing by leaps and bounds and immersive and virtual reality games are expected to be the most in demand in the future. The AI together with the devices and consoles will evolve towards this path, looking for the best experiences for the players.