AI creates video game after watching gamers play

AI gaming
AI research


In a previous article, we argued that AI would trigger huge job losses in many domains, making it more difficult for people to find work. One of the respective domains could be the video game industry.

Researchers recently challenged AI to learn how video games work. AI systems are very good at recognizing patterns and this challenge actually proved to be a fairly easy one. AI did not only learn how video games work, but also recreated the game engine just by watching gamers play. Pretty impressive, right?

To make things clear from the very beginning, keep in mind that the AI system did not have access to the game’s code. It learnt to recreate the game just by looking at the pixels. The AI literally broke down the game frame-by-frame, analyzed every motion, labeled what it saw and then analyzed the data again to detect patterns.

AI recreates Super Mario Bros

Researchers first supplied the AI system with two elements: a sprite palette that consists of individual game images and a set of orientation elements, such as the position of objects and their velocity.

All together we transform the initial pixel input into a set of sprites and their spatial positions in each frame. Given a sequence of frames, where each frame is defined as the set of sprites and their locations, we can run a simple greedy matching algorithm to match each sprite to its closest neighbor(both visually and spatially) in each adjacent frame. […]

At a high level, the game engine learning approach scans through the sequence of parsed frames and begins a search for a set of rules that explains any sufficient difference between the predicted and actual frame.

At the moment, this new AI game engine algorithm can only be used on 2D platformers. Recreating a 3D game engine is a far more complex task but this is nevertheless the next challenge.

When AI systems will be able to build 3D game engines, the video gaming industry will reach a crossroads. AI will either boost game developers’ productivity or cut many jobs.

For more information on how AI recreated Super Mario Bros’ game engine, check out this research paper.

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Maddie Blau

I strongly believe that Artificial Intelligence is the future of technology. AI research has yielded significant advancements in recent years and this is only the beginning.

Join me as I track the latest progress in AI research.
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