Can an AI create a better video game than a human?

Credit: Ludum Dare

Although some argue that video games are not art, there's still a lot of creative process that goes into designing and developing a game. But what if a machine were in charge of that creative process, particularly one with a sophisticated level of artificial intelligence? Could that machine ever design a game as compelling as something created by a human? This is the question that Mike Cook, a research assistant at the University of London, raised when he created Angelina. Angelina is an AI game designer, and she (er, it) was entered to compete in Ludum Dare, a game jam.

Cook is using Angelina in his studies of how computers behave when given creative tasks, at least by human terms. He felt games were ideal for his research as they require many avenues of creativity: from artwork to story to sound design. To test how well such a game would compete with those designed by humans, Cook entered Angelina’s game into Ludum Jam, an event held every few months that challenges game designers to make a game in a single weekend.

The Ludum Jam theme for this particular round was "You Only Get One." The idea is to make the theme part of the gameplay, perhaps by giving players just one item or one chance to accomplish something. Angelina began its creation process by searching its database, using an algorithm, for references to the word "one." Of course, it found too many, so it just ignored those and looked for a similar word: Angelina chose "founder" instead. After settling on that, the AI started searching for metaphors associated with that word and then based on the results, chose the game’s imagery, setting, color scheme, items, and sounds.

Angelina’s Ludum Dare submission, To That Sect, is a game that tasks a player to find a certain object while avoiding others. The AI chose colors of blood red, along with disturbing music. Cook doesn't feel that To The Sect ended up being representative of the Ludum Dare theme, but voters called it "creepy," which is always good when creating a compelling gaming experience.

Cook plans on continuing to develop Angelina, and hopes that it will eventually be able to create something a human would simply not think of. He also recently started working with the Oculus Rift, which he believes will make Angelina’s game environments even better. But will an AI be able to create something as emotionally riveting as Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead or BioWare’s Mass Effect series? That’s highly doubtful, but perhaps, in time, an AI will get close.

Via New Scientist

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