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How AI continued its creep into gaming during CES 2024

OPINION: CES was always going to be an AI-heavy show, but there were a number of instances of artificial intelligence edging its way in to the video games enjoyed by millions and created by hundreds of thousands of talented, real life humans.

While most of these announcements came with caveats that creatives won’t be unduly impacted, much less chiselled out of a living by these tech advancements, it was clear these features are a step in that direction. Whether it’s through writing for characters, or the entire generation of non-playable characters.

Companies like Nvidia, MSI, Valve and Ubisoft (the latter two of which aren’t at CES) have all been subject to eyebrow-raising reports about AI’s creep into our video games. For instance, Valve’s new rules will allow for the “vast majority” of AI powered games to be published to the Steam store.

The change in guidelines come after “spending the last few months learning more about this space and talking with game developers,” Valve said in a blog post.

The PC gaming giant said “we are making changes to how we handle games that use AI technology. This will enable us to release the vast majority of games that use it.”

All game developers will need to do is specify whether AI usage is pre-generated or live-generated. The only difference is the need for games with live-generated content to specify “what kind of guardrails you’re putting on your AI to ensure it’s not generating illegal content.”

NPCs go AI

Nvidia, has also spoken out about the data it is using to train an ACE generative AI service that was further fleshed out at CES 2024. The service includes a chatbot that can be used to develop in-game dialogue between characters. It would give developers fleshed out backstories for games, without having to employ writers to create them.

Now the company is clarifying the tool will only be trained using content Nvidia has the rights in an attempt to allay concerns. However, it does seem that the AI tools will restrict jobs for future dialogue and story writers who’ve already been paid for their contributions but may see income streams dry up.

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“NVIDIA ACE microservices, Audio-2-Face and Riva Automatic Speech Recognition, are commercially safe, trained on data licensed from trusted partners as well as commercially licensable open-source datasets,” Nvidia tells Digital Trends, who followed up.

“Similar to most work in the voice acting and motion capture industry, NVIDIA pays fully up front for the ongoing use of voice and mocap data.”

At CES, Nvidia also revealed its partnership with Convai AI (via Mashable) to create AI-generated non-playable characters within games.These characters can “navigate complex instructions, display emotional awareness, and engage in organic interactions.”

TTS and cheating monitors

On that theme, outside of the doors of CES, Ubisoft has admitted to using text-to-speech to voice for a non-playable Prime of Persia character. The admission comes after the robotic accent was spied. However, Ubisoft says this was an accident only affecting eight lines of dialogue.

The developer said, via Engadget, the “English version of these eight lines of text for this character were not properly implemented” and the mistake just involves the text-to-speech placeholder not being replaced by a voice actor like the other NPCs.

Finally, there’s a new MSI gaming monitor that uses an AI assistant called SkySight to alert users where the enemies in League of Legends are approaching from, Tom’s Hardware reports. The SkySight assistant will keep an eye on a larger proportion of the map than you can see, effectively giving you an unfair advantage on fellow gamers.

Overall, some of these features are more concerning for gaming industry peeps than others, but all of them do raise concern about the direction this is tracking. Even though Ubisoft’s seems like a basic and harmless error, people’s Spidey senses are up about this sort of thing and cynicism reigns.

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