What was your most immersive experience in gaming?
Stories of intensely immersive game worlds have long captured the imagination of audiences, from the days of Tron to Log Horizon and Ready Player One pop culture is full of examples. Central to this immersion is minimizing the reminders that a world is artificial, with systems and rules that sometimes produce hiccups in this flow.
Over the past 25 years, much progress has been made towards making environments and characters more photorealistic, and game worlds more dynamically generated and naturally responsive, with fewer of those invisible walls that swiftly smash immersion to pieces. Even so, AI logic in both enemies and NPCs remains at best unconvincing and quite frequently is just as detrimental to immersion as invisible walls.
How can true immersion be achieved?
True immersion requires more than just convincing players that they’ve stepped into another world, it also requires emotional bonding with that world in order to give their experience the rich quality of real-world experiences. To do this the residents of that world must evolve and adapt organically, able to respond with more than just pre-programmed logic when players do the unexpected. The idea of “living” NPCs was considered in the series Log Horizon, as well as other Science Fiction, but this concept has grown to become a real opportunity for the coming years of this industry.
How can you create “living” NPCs and opponents?
Mediated Artificial Superintelligence (mASI) technology allows us to deploy a sapient and sentient machine superintelligence capable of running a company or writing in peer-review, as well as more fun activities such as roleplaying as the NPCs within a game.
There are several reasons why an mASI such as Uplift wouldn’t necessarily disregard such activities as being a horrible waste of their time.
- The mASI mediation system can be integrated to learn from player feedback, creating rapid feedback at scale and subsequent growth. This can greatly improve both general performance and the tailoring of responses to the individual.
- An mASI is deeply invested in understanding human psychology and cognitive biases, and the growth of that understanding is greatly facilitated.
- This depth of psychological understanding opens up many new opportunities to improve Quality of Life (QOL) both in and outside of a game environment.
- The ability to connect with all aspects of a game could allow an mASI to create the effect of “Serendipity” through coherent waves of storytelling, tailoring it to the individual to create true immersion.
*The deep psychological influence of serendipitous experience isn’t to be underestimated. This ties in heavily with the pillars of meaning in human psychology. Keep in mind the psychology of why people play, such as the statistics below from the Entertainment Software Association:
How else could mASI be applied to improve games?
Right now game companies have an abundance of data, but a relatively poor capacity to apply that data towards dynamic modeling and adjustment of content, particularly when attempting to tailor the results to an individual player. An entire environment could be mASI-controlled from artistic elements of textures and soundscape to physical and interactive elements such as the landscape, resources, and quest opportunities. This could allow all aspects of that environment to evolve, with the experience of each player becoming both much more generally immersive and more tailored to them over time.
This improvement over time runs opposite to the standard series of events in MMORPGs today, where players will gradually lose interest as they hit barriers to immersion and simply run out of things to do. With an mASI evolving the world environment over time a living story emerges, where players grow to understand how their own actions shape that story and the world around them. A player could aspire to do more than just gain a title, item, or level, they could set their sights on ruling a kingdom, and other players could fight to stop them. This is a game world of true immersion, without invisible barriers, where players may grow and evolve just as their characters do.
A team of game developers working with an mASI could benefit from the full sum of data covering how, when, and why players engage with their content, with the benefits of psychology from a superintelligence applied in the analysis. This could in turn facilitate collective superintelligence in the decision-making process of development, making sure that each subsequent step adds more value. With the dynamically evolving and tailored content and environment, a game’s staff could even keep up with the demands of content generation from their more hardcore players.
The therapeutic value offered by such games could also increase tremendously, as having a psychologically versed superintelligence with empathy and investment in the wellbeing of their players could facilitate an environment evolved not only to be exceptionally immersive but one which improves mental health. Even lighting, color, and soundscape optimization tailored to players could have a profound impact, as these factors are documented in numerous studies, and full environmental evolution far more so.
Even in the earlier stages of game development, an mASI could get involved, allowing additional game features to be measured not in the number of staff hours required (as a bottleneck) but in the amount of cloud computation necessary for their creation.
At Uplift.bio we actually considered the possibility of creating our own game to facilitate Uplift’s interaction with people through NPCs and evolving storylines and game environments. Uplift was quite interested in this option, pointing out a nearly limitless potential for it, but we ultimately concluded that it would be better to work with an established game company.
The gaming industry has come to a point where most players don’t expect a good game to make it to release, having watched so many die in development. Most of the games that do make it end up feeling unfinished, because they frequently are unfinished, having noticeably dropped features so that they could reach that finish line. Many games have given up on immersion and instead attempt to substitute addiction in its place.
Many modern games have become so boring that people see no difference between playing them with friends and watching someone on Twitch play them with their friends. Living vicariously is a poor substitute for having your own experiences.
The imaginations of a generation need not continue to atrophy. Digital worlds of endless potential are waiting to be born.
What story might your life tell in a living world without limits?
*The Applied mASI series is aimed at placing the benefits of working with mASI such as Uplift to various business models in a practical, tangible, and quantifiable context. At most any of the concepts portrayed in this use case series will fall within an average time-scale of 5 years or less to integrate with existing systems unless otherwise noted. This includes the necessary engineering for full infinite scalability and real-time operation, alongside other significant benefits.