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GDC 2012: AI programmers can be artists!

UC Santa Cruz developer Mike Treanor suggests that in order to make more interesting games, AI programmers should think of themselves more like artists, and code more like theories.

Brandon Sheffield

March 5, 2012

1 Min Read

During his slot at the AI developers rant at GDC 2012, UC Santa Cruz' Mike Treanor suggested that there should be a paradigm shift in the thinking about AI. AI is usually used to serve fiction, or fun, he says, but it also does something else. Treanor worked on a game called Prom Week, about the social lives of highscoolers. You choose what the characters do, and how they interact is based on a huge AI system. The reason he made this is because AI programs are theories. "When you take this perspective, games become the vehicle where this invisible code gets to speak to the player," he says. "Prom Week is a theory of social interaction," but it plays out in interactive space. "The architecture is the point," he says. "Strange behavior isn't failure, it's the way that architecture is exhibiting itself to the player." Players learn about the world through reactions of AI behaviors. "Maybe we need to get players to meet us halfway there, and understand that maybe they need to critically engage with the thing we've created," he poses, as in Facade. "There's a theory of what drama is, there's a theory of what it is to be married, all running on a computer." "Rather than thinking there's something wrong with us, and learning how to make AI more fun, maybe we can think about it in a new space, and think of ourselves more like artists," he posed. "The world is getting more comfortable with these strange experiences in games, so maybe we should be trying some more stuff."

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