Can GenAI Write Video Game Characters?

Image via Midjourney

Video games have long pushed the technological envelope. Creating convincing and engrossing gameplay has been the industry’s primary mission since the Atari 2600 and today video games are leaping over the uncanny valley into photorealistic territory, with thousands of players gathering in hyperrealistic worlds full of soldiers, goblins, and (adoptable) dogs.

But what if the video game industry added GenAI to the mix? While there has been a lot of technology thrown at graphics and settings, very little tech has entered the mainstream when it comes to player interaction. Now, however, a number of companies are exploring adding AI to their non-player characters, essentially turning each gaming session into a unique, ever-changing experience.

“AI will enable truly immersive worlds and sophisticated narratives that put players at the center of the fantasy,” said Bing Gordon in a CNBC interview. “Moreover, AI that influences fundamental game mechanics has the potential to increase engagement and draw players deeper into your game.”  

The results thus far are mixed. I recently tested a GenAI tool that we’ll review in January and found it to quite clever. Called Brain~Wave, the app allows you to create characters with back stories, styles, and even attitude. Each character has a unique voice and it can sass you back when you make fun of it or encourage you to go off on your next mission.

Given this layer of immersion, expect to see more and more compelling in-game characters that will make players feel like they’re actually talking to a real human. Experts expect that the tech will be used first for storyboarding and then, eventually, trickle into the games themselves over time. While you shouldn’t expect the magical space unicorn in your next game to totally convince you it’s not a robot, you should be ready for a characters that seem to think, feel, and even emote in ways that we haven’t imagined.

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