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🎮 AI in Gaming | 5 Biggest Innovations (+40 AI Games)

Jeremy DSouza
Nov 9
5-6 mins

Table of contents

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 AI in gaming

In the world of gaming, artificial intelligence (AI) is about creating more responsive, adaptive, and challenging games. From NPCs to pathfinding, AI is revolutionizing the gaming experience.

But what is AI in gaming? And why does it matter? Let's learn more about it in this blog!

What is AI in gaming?

AI in gaming refers to the integration of artificial intelligence techniques and technologies into video games to create more dynamic, responsive, and immersive gameplay experiences. It involves programming computer-controlled characters (non-player characters or NPCs) and entities within the game environment to exhibit intelligent behaviors, make decisions, and interact with the player and the game world in a lifelike manner. Think of it as a virtual mind for the characters and components in a video game, breathing life into the digital realm and making it interactive, almost as if you're engaging with real entities.

You know those opponents in a game that seem to adapt and challenge you differently each time? That's AI at work, crafting opponents that can think on their feet. 

The hype around AI gaming has been continuously growing for quite a while. Just look at Cortana in Halo (yes, Microsoft named its virtual assistant after this character, and we're so here for it!). And that's not the only game about artificial intelligence. Several other games (like Detroit: Becoming Human) revolve primarily around AI and Androids.

But is that all there is to AI games?

You're about to find out. 

What are the benefits of AI in games?

Here are the top 8 benefits of using AI in games:

1. Enhanced player experience

Creating life-like situational developments to progress in the games adds excitement to the gameplay. Increasing complexity in AI games ensures gamers are hooked to the game. With the rise of different AI gaming devices, gamers expect to have an immersive experience across various devices.

2. Adaptive gameplay

AI algorithms can analyze the behavior of players, learning patterns, mechanics, game speed, etc. ensuring that players are consistently challenged & avoid monotony.

3. Realistic Non-Player Characteristics

NPCs or non-player characters are where Game AI is used the most. These are characters in the game who act intelligently as if they were controlled by human players. These characters’ behavior is determined by AI algorithms and that adds depth & complexity to the game, making it more engaging for the players.

4. Procedural content generation

AI algorithms can generate game content such as difficulty levels, quests, maps, tasks, etc. This reduces development costs & time while providing players with endless variations & new experiences every time.

5. Intelligent game balancing & testing

AI can be used to balance multi-player games, ensuring fair & enjoyable experiences for all players. AI-powered testing can simulate hundreds of gameplay scenarios, uncovering hidden bugs & optimizing game mechanics more efficiently.

Game AI can figure out the ability and emotional state of the player, and then tailor the game according to that. This could even involve dynamic game difficulty balancing in which the difficulty of the game is adjusted in real time, depending on the player's ability. AI in gaming could even aid in figuring out the player’s intent.

6. Future innovations

AI opens up the possibilities of future innovations in gaming, such as AR, VR, and Mixed Reality, where AI algorithms can enhance adaptability, immersion, & interactions within these environments.

7. Data mining

Artificial intelligence in gaming allows game designers and studios to perform data mining on player behavior to help them get an understanding of how people end up playing the game, the parts that people play the most, and what causes users to stop playing the game. This allows game developers to improve gameplay or identify monetisation opportunities.

8. Efficient testing & bug detection

AI-powered testing can simulate hundreds of gameplay scenarios and identify bugs & glitches and balance out issues quickly & efficiently compared to manual testing. For example, in Red Dead Redemption 2, the behavior of NPCs and their interaction with you depend on variables like blood stains on your clothes or the type of hat that you are wearing. Since there is an enormous matrix of possibilities, the whole game world could be manipulated by your decisions.

NPCs can even learn from player behavior and adapt according to their tactics

See how AI scores big in FIFA gaming

The iconic FIFA franchise, developed by EA Sports, has embraced AI in innovative ways to enhance gameplay, create more intelligent opponents, and offer players an unparalleled level of engagement. Gone are the days when sports video games relied solely on scripted animations and pre-determined outcomes. With advancements in AI, FIFA has moved towards creating adaptive gameplay that mirrors the unpredictability of real-world football matches. This shift has been made possible through the use of machine learning algorithms that analyze player behavior and adapt to their choices in real time.

In FIFA's "Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment" system, AI algorithms observe how players perform in matches and adjust the game's difficulty accordingly. If a player consistently wins with ease, the AI ramps up the challenge by introducing more competent opponents or tweaking the physics of the game. Conversely, if a player faces difficulties, the AI may offer subtle assistance, like more accurate passes or slightly slower opponents. This adaptive approach ensures that players are consistently challenged without feeling overwhelmed.

The "Player Personality System" in FIFA utilizes AI to give each virtual player a distinct identity. Just like their real-life counterparts, virtual players exhibit unique behaviors, such as making tactical decisions based on their playing style, reacting emotionally to in-game events, and adapting their strategies as the match progresses. Beyond gameplay enhancements, AI has also found a place in FIFA's career modes. In "FIFA Manager" and "Career Mode," AI-driven scouting mechanisms simulate the real-world process of identifying and nurturing talent. These systems use algorithms to generate virtual players with varying attributes, potential, and play styles. As players progress in their careers, AI assists in determining their development trajectories, making the virtual football world even more dynamic and unpredictable.

Looking ahead, the integration of AI into FIFA gaming shows no signs of slowing down. With the advent of more advanced machine learning techniques, we can expect even more sophisticated gameplay, lifelike opponent behaviors, and enhanced realism. AI-powered features might include real-time injury simulations, more realistic weather effects, and even more intuitive controls that adapt to individual players' skill levels.

What are the types of AI in games?

The most common types of AI in gaming techniques are:

1. Rule-based AI

Rule-based AI operates on a set of predetermined rules and conditions that dictate the behavior of non-player characters (NPCs) within the game. These rules are usually programmed by developers and define how NPCs should react in various situations. For example, in a stealth game, if the player is spotted by an NPC, the rule-based AI might instruct the NPC to alert nearby guards.

2. Finite State Machines

Finite State Machines (FSMs) model NPC behaviors by breaking them down into distinct states and transitions between those states. Each state represents a specific behavior or action. Transitions occur in response to certain triggers or conditions. For instance, in a combat scenario, an NPC might transition from a "patrolling" state to an "alert" state when it detects the player.

3. Pathfinding AI

Pathfinding AI focuses on determining the most optimal path for NPCs to navigate through the game environment. Algorithms like A* (A star) are commonly used to calculate the shortest path while avoiding obstacles. This technique ensures that NPCs move intelligently and realistically through complex environments.

4. Machine Learning AI

Machine Learning AI introduces a level of adaptability and learning into the behavior of NPCs. It involves training AI models using past experiences, data, and exposure to make decisions. NPCs can learn from player interactions and adapt their behavior accordingly. For instance, an AI opponent in a racing game might learn to take tighter turns and choose better racing lines over time.

5. Behavior trees

Behavior trees offer a more flexible approach to AI behavior. They consist of a hierarchical structure of nodes representing specific actions, conditions, or states. These nodes are interconnected to form a tree that outlines the possible behaviors of an NPC. Behavior trees allow for complex decision-making, enabling NPCs to adapt to changing conditions dynamically.

6. Reinforcement learning

Reinforcement Learning involves NPCs receiving feedback in the form of rewards or penalties based on their interactions with the game environment or the player's actions. NPCs learn to adjust their behavior to maximize rewards and minimize penalties. For instance, an NPC in a strategy game might learn to prioritize resource gathering to increase its chances of winning.

What are the top 5 innovations of AI in gaming industry?

AI and Procedural Generation

  1. AI in Game Content Creation - AI can generate diverse & dynamic game levels, quests, challenges, etc providing unique experiences to players.
  2. Infinite Content Possibilities - Enhances replayability & extends the lifespan of games.
  3. Efficiency & Scalability - Create larger, more intricate environments in less time.
  4. Dynamic & Adaptive Environments - The game world can evolve, regenerate & adjust based on player interactions & behavior.
  5. Endless Exploration & Discovery - Each level can unveil new areas, hidden treasures, unique encounters, etc allowing discovery of the game world in depth.

AI and NPCs

  1. Advanced AI behavior - NPCs can analyze the game environment, interact with players, and make complex decisions based on objectives, emotions & context.
  2. Adaptive NPCs - NPCs can evolve their behavior, strategies & responses over time.
  3. Personalized Experiences - Custom quests, dialogue options & rewards at the right instant will make players immersive in the game.
  4. Dynamic Social Interactions - NPCs can display emotions, form relationships, and respond based on player’s choices and actions.
  5. Dynamic World Simulation - NPCs can engage in dynamic simulated activities, such as trading, exploring, etc.
  6. Collaborative NPCs - Function as cooperative teammates or opponents in multi-player mode.

AI and Game Balancing

  1. Automated Balancing - Based on the player performance, AI can adjust the enemy behavior, difficulty levels, & game mechanics dynamically.
  2. Player-driven Balancing - AI can learn from player behaviour & preferences to fine-tune game balancing.
  3. Fair & Competitive Multi-player - Algorithms create balanced matchups in multi-player games.
  4. Rapid Iteration & Testing - AI can simulate countless test scenarios to identify imbalances, bugs, etc.
  5. Continuous Improvement - AI enables ongoing optimization of game balancing through game updates & patches.

AI and Game Analytics

  1. Player Insights - Make data-driven decisions to improve the game design and monetization strategies.
  2. Adaptive Gameplay - AI can adapt difficult levels, pacing & content.
  3. Live Operations & Updates - Game developers can analyze game performance, player feedback, sentiment, etc.
  4. Predictive Analytics - Developers can anticipate player needs, churn rates, and and optimize game content & features accordingly.
  5. Fraud Detection & Security - Analyze data patterns to detect & prevent fraudulent activities.

AI and Game Design

  1. Procedural Generation - Reduces the manual effort required for content creation.
  2. Intelligent NPCs - Enhance story-telling, create memorable characters, and bring the game world alive.
  3. Player Behavior Analysis - Enhance the overall game design process.
  4. Proactive Game Design - Design game mechanics, challenges, & content that aligns with the expectations of the player.

What are the most popular AI Games?

Artificial Intelligence in gaming has definitely come a long way, some of the top video games that use artificial intelligence. Here are the 40 top AI games that you need to start playing right now:

  1. AI Dungeon
  2. Screeps
  3. CodeCombat
  4. Cognitoy Dino
  5. Hello Neighbor
  6. Black & White
  7. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow Of Chernobyl
  8. Forza Motorsport Series
  9. Civilization Series
  10. FIFA Series
  11. XCOM2
  12. Total War Series
  13. Rainbow Six Siege
  14. Stellaris
  15. Middle-Earth
  16. Rocket League
  17. Fallout 4
  18. Hitman Series
  19. The SIMS Series
  20. F.E.A.R.
  21. First Cry Series
  22. Dishonoured Series
  23. Deus Ex Series
  24. Watch Dogs Series
  25. Meta Gear Solid Series
  26. Alien & Alien: Isolation
  27. Sniper Elite Series
  28. The Last of Us Series
  29. Ghost of Tsushima
  30. Monster Hunter
  31. Detroit
  32. Red Dead Redemption 2
  33. Half-Life
  34. Bioshock Infinite
  35. Grand Theft Auto 5
  36. Halo: Combat Evolved
  37. Minecraft
  38. Darkforest
  39. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  40. AlphaGo Zero

What is the future of AI in gaming industry?

The use of AI for games design and development has evolved substantially, but it's showing no signs of slowing down. Let's see what the future seems to hold.

1. Cloud-Based Gaming with AI 

Source: TheGamingProject

Cloud gaming is a technology that streams games across the Internet rather than requiring the user to download and install the game. This technology has been in the works for years, but it's still not mainstream. 

2. Blockchain-Based Gaming

Blockchain-based gaming is still not a famous phenomenon. It indicates that both, gamers and developers need to get together on the blockchain platform to play these games. At the same time, they need to buy or owe digital properties to be a part of this gaming fraternity. 

3. Voice or Audio Recognition-Based Games

Using audio recognition in gaming is going to change the way we perceive gaming. With voice recognition in gaming, the user can control the gaming gestures, monitor the controls, and even side-line the role of a controller. 

4. Wearable Support Gaming and VR Gaming

Evolution in the field of AR, VR, and MR, has elevated the standards of experiential games based on virtual reality and mixed reality, making them more realistic and progressive towards entertainment. Oculus Quest is an all-in-one PC-quality virtual reality device is the best example of a wearable device used for wearable gaming. 

5. Improved Mobile Gaming Experience

Mobile gaming is an emerging trend that facilitates a player to access an unlimited number of games with the convenience of their location. Phone companies have been focusing on and developing devices compatible with high resolution and heavy graphics. 

Can AI make games?

Yep, it can. AI has played a huge role in developing video games and tuning them to the preferences of the players. The most commonly used technique for this is machine learning. Basically, you could have the AI system learn from a lot of games, create approximate representations of the games, and then proceed to recombine the knowledge from these representations and use conceptual expansion to create new games. 

AI has been bringing some major changes to the world of gaming, and its role is growing at a rapid pace. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Artificial Intelligence in gaming being used even more in the near future, seeing how it helps create more challenging and engaging game experiences.

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Jeremy DSouza

Jeremy is a marketer at Engati with an interest in marketing psychology and consumer neuroscience. Over the last year he has interviewed many of the world's brightest CX, AI, Marketing, and Tech thought leaders for Engati CX.

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