Of all the major tech developments to have hit the mainstream over the past few years, it’s AI that remains the most impactful. Though it is already a significant part of our day-to-day lives — if you’ve ever used a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa, you’re engaging with AI — widespread integration of artificial intelligence in gaming is nevertheless a concept that isn’t without controversy.

Here in the digital age, however, there’s simply no getting away from the fact that we are becoming increasingly reliant on the results of machine learning. 

Putting fears of humans becoming obsolete aside, it’s clear that there are numerous industries that will benefit from utilizing AI as a tool for progression, including gaming. The global gaming industry now stands as one of the most popular and lucrative entertainment industries and it’s already pretty reliant on artificial intelligence-based innovations, as we’ll explain below.

However, as AI becomes more and more sophisticated, it unlocks new possibilities for fully immersive and customizable gaming experiences. 

What is AI’s role in the Gaming Industry to date?

For much of the history of video gaming, artificial intelligence has played a substantial role. Genres as varied as platform games through to online casinos have all, in some form or another, been both impacted and improved by the implementation of artificial intelligence in gaming.

The earlier implementations often involved simple rule-based systems, but, as technology advanced, more sophisticated techniques such as randomization and neural networks have come into play, which create more adaptive, realistic, and provably fair gaming experiences. 

For example, the growth of online casino gaming has helped to diversify the industry, creating both new economic opportunities and helping to make the sector more accessible to a wider demographic of gamers, but the transformation to the digital realm didn’t come without its challenges.

The absence of croupiers and security guards in the virtual landscape saw a need for computerized randomization tools, including Random Number Generators, with operators like PokerStars Casino implementing RNGs to ensure the provable fairness of their extensive games portfolios. As the capabilities of machine learning became more advanced, operators have been able to incorporate AI into things like chatbots and customer verification procedures. 

Furthermore, in the wider gaming industry, AI tools have been used by development teams for decades. In particular, game development studios have employed AI algorithms to generate procedurally generated content, such as populating landscapes and background environments, thereby reducing the manual workload of human developers and increasing the scale and diversity of gaming worlds.

The technology has also found its way into game design optimization, with data analytics helping developers understand player preferences and their unique behavioral patterns. In recent years, machine learning and neural networks have taken center stage, enabling studios to implement more sophisticated features like adaptive difficulty levels for personalized gaming experiences. 

Where can Artificial Intelligence in gaming go? 

Here in 2024, Artificial Intelligence has certainly left an indelible mark on the gaming industry, but how much further can it go? Well, as advanced as the technology itself is, it’s still very much in its infancy and there are still plenty of opportunities for machine-driven improvements throughout the gaming industry. 

Generative AI, which can generate several types of content assets in response to a prompt, is set to have a major impact on a staple component of video games: the non-playable character (NPC). In contrast to playable characters, NPCs populate gaming environments but are limited to set patterns of behavior, with their speech and mannerisms appearing stilted and robotic.

Given the superior quality of modern-day games and the realism found in leading characters, NPCs give an “uncanny valley vibe” that can pull even the most dedicated gamer out of the immersive environment. 

Generative Artificial Intelligence in gaming has the potential to transform NPC interactions, combining elements like animation and dialogue to produce more natural, unpredictable (to a point) behaviors in these characters.

A number of advancements have already been made in this field, Ubisoft’s partnership with La Forge has birthed the Ghostwriter tool — which assists designers in creating a better variety of original dialogue for NPCs — as well as new tech that will provide NPCs with realistic and natural gestures to match the tone of their speech.