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The global artificial intelligence (AI) in video games industry generated an impressive $1.1 billion in 2022, and is anticipated to generate $11.4 billion by 2032, witnessing a CAGAR of 26.8% from 2023 to 2032, according to a report published by Allied Market Research. With the use of AI technology in everyday life becoming more prominent, the future of the video gaming industry can expect a variety of transformations as well. From the current applications of AI in the gaming world to the value of various AI-powered technologies, there is no question that innovations powered by artificial intelligence will bring players an elevated gaming experience like no other. 

Where AI stands today

AI may seem as though it is integrated into anything and everything, one Columbia University Engineering article explains where artificial intelligence stands in regard to video games today. According to Eric Nesser, a global director of 3-D and interactive for a multinational advertising company, AI is used in a few key ways. “Today, video games use AI to enhance computer graphics and to create ‘smart’ opponents for a player to battle,” he explains. “The most practical, most active application of AI today is to combine it with technology like real-time ray tracing for photorealistic lighting, shadows, and reflections.” The Columbia University Engineering post goes on to point out that while the makeup of popular games (particularly elements such as the graphics and interface) make it appear as though AI algorithms are already in place, these are “still very much powered” by the same principle that made old-school games possible, known as pathfinding. With that in mind, it’s imperative to note that this doesn’t close the door on the immense potential that artificial intelligence can bring to the gaming world, particularly when it comes to the sci-fi genre. 

Exploring the potential of generative AI

A Forbes article by Swish Goswami highlights the potential of generative artificial intelligence in video games, citing one example in a blockchain-based game studio called Parallel. Known for its digital trading card game (of the same name), it’s noted that the studio announced an additional $35 million in funding to support its expansion plans. “One of its expansions makes me much more confident about my prediction of AI advancement in video games,” writes Goswami, noting that a recent white paper revealed the studio’s plans for Colony, described as “a never-ending game that is powered by AI where all in simulation items are onchain.” The description further describes the game, nothing that players are paired with a Parallel Avatar “who acts as boots on the ground and you work together and share onchain resources to navigate an ever-expanding Parallel world.” Goswami points out that this is essentially “sci-fi sims with embedded AI.” 

One CNN World article dives further into the potential of generative AI in video games, highlighting La Forge’s Ghostwriter, a text-generating AI tool that was designed to help writers create a variety of original dialogue for non-playable characters (NPCs). “It takes speech as input and generates body gesture as output, so we can imagine those NPCs expressing themselves with non-scripted dialogues, having almost natural body animation, synthesized from speech,” explains Alexis Rolland, development director of La Forge China, the Chinese branch of video games publisher Ubisoft’s research and development unit. Typically, NPCs are known for their rigid, unnatural movements. However, with AI-powered technology, they can become part of an immersive experience. According to Rolland, combining generative artificial intelligence elements (like dialogue and animation) could create “a fully fledged, AI-powered NPC that might have a little bit more natural and unpredictable behavior.” 

Exploring the potential of prompt engineering technology

In addition to the uses of generative AI within the gaming industry, prompt engineering has great potential worth exploring as well. Powerful AI language models (such as OpenAI’s chat GPT and Google’s Bard) can be used in a variety of useful applications. However, they can be unsuccessful when it comes to following the exact format and data needed for specific needs. Prompt engineering, on the other hand, works by developing strict output format rules, effectively ‘training’ the model with pre-prepared examples in the prompt and testing. As a result, a consistent and reliable output can often be achieved. In the video game sphere, prompt engineering can transform the creative process. One LinkedIn article dives into the applications, noting that as an AI-powered tool, prompt engineering enables both game developers and designers to create engaging and personalized experiences for gamers. With prompt engineering, it’s noted that game developers can create “highly interactive and dynamic narratives that adapt to player choices and actions.” If applied to the sci-fi genre, players could benefit by gaining a deeper connection to the game and storyline thanks to the immersive nature that prompt engineering can provide.

AI technology is rapidly evolving, and becoming more prevalent in a variety of industries — even video games. With innovative applications such as generative AI and prompt engineering, such technologies provide a glimpse into the future of an even more immersive and personalized gaming experience.