We were happy to talk to Georgios N. Yannakakis who is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta. He has received multiple awards for published work in top-tier journals and conferences, and will also be the keynote speaker at the ArtsIT 2017 – 6th EAI International Conference: ArtsIT, Interactivity & Game Creation (October 30-31, Greece).
Could you summarize the scope of your current work and what are you coming to share with everyone at ArtsIT 2017?
The main focus of my work is on the various uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in and for games. Games are a long-standing friend of AI ever since the birth of the artificial intelligence. AI researchers have used games to test algorithms’ capacity to play them well. Most of these games are relatively easy for humans to learn but very hard to master, including Checkers, Chess, and Go, but even early digital games such as the Atari games and strategy games like StarCraft.
Over the last decade or so, however, we experience a growing number of dissimilar uses of AI in games aiming at improving the very experience of play. These include the algorithmic generation of game content such as levels, maps, stories and game rules and the computational modeling of players, their behaviors and their experience during play. The different uses of AI in games are detailed in my recent “AI and games” textbook which is freely available at gameaibook.org
How is artificial intelligence changing the game industry?
Beyond graphics and hardware, AI has been one of the main technology drives within the game industry. AI has traditionally been testing the games that we play before they are released and providing non-player characters with believable and expressive behaviors. AI can also be used as a fellow designer that makes recommendations during the game design process, but also as a powerful data analysis tool for making strategic decisions about the game’s marketing and content production.
What are some of the challenges that game developers and designers are currently facing?
The current challenges faced during game development vary depending on the size and scope of the game being produced. Smaller studios usually struggle with the overwhelming cost of manual content creation whereas larger AAA-scale companies wish to improve the experience of the player in order to increase their revenues. AI can directly address these challenges as it can be of assistance for creating game content (autonomously or with the help of a designer), and for understanding the experience of the player and predicting her behavior.
Join us at ArtsIT 2017 and gain more insights about Games, Interactivity and AI!