The world has embraced artificial intelligence (AI), hoping to see it transform complex, everyday processes. While generative AI models have won millions of users, discussions about the transformative potential of AI in all walks of life have become mainstream.
Today, AI is being tested across all business sectors as entrepreneurs challenge the status quo, streamlining and automating processes across industries. This campaign also works to revive ecosystems that have lost their strength over years of trial and error.
In its quest to find the true potential of this technology, humanity continues to infuse elements of artificial intelligence into existing systems in hopes of transcending current limitations.
The gaming ecosystem sees AI as a way to replace incremental upgrades. From repurposing old hardware to squeezing the price-performance ratio of the latest graphics processing units (GPUs), the gaming industry sees the potential for AI to redefine how gamers consume their products in the future.
“Artificial intelligence will be one of the most important tools for game developers to improve the outcomes of their work and production, and open up rich, new experiences for players,” said Ryan White, former global head of gaming partnerships at Google and former head of Google’s games division. Youtube.
White’s exposure to gaming—on both the professional and personal fronts—has afforded him a special perspective at the intersection of gamer wishful thinking and businessman reality checking.
White gained more than two decades of gaming experience before entering the cryptocurrency space as CEO of Polygon Labs, eventually retiring as president to take on an advisory role for a blockchain company.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, White revealed how AI could change the gaming ecosystem and what that could mean for the future of blockchain gaming.
Cointelegraph: What is the role of AI in the gaming ecosystem?
Ryan White: The term “AI in games” has been overused to the point of exhaustion. In my opinion, it’s just another powerful tool in a developer’s toolkit, which is already extensive and continues to grow. This expansion of tool sets – AI being one of them – will enable a variety of new gaming experiences not seen before and will allow game developers to do more. We talk a lot about AI as a replacement for the work done in games, but I strongly disagree with it. I see it as a powerful tool that will allow game teams, both small and large, to do more than they could before, which may require leveraging human resources differently but does not diminish or downplay the many roles required to do so. Game. In return, players will be able to experience games that were not possible before.
CT: Can AI take on heavy computational tasks that currently rely only on GPUs? Do you think AI can allow us to reuse legacy systems that contribute to e-waste, or is this just wishful thinking?
Ru: This is difficult. I think it’s wishful thinking to assume that AI can reuse all these old systems and reduce electronic waste. Based on the track record of how devices have grown and advanced so much over the past two decades, there’s little reason to believe we’re headed in the right direction here, as we’ve continued to increase e-waste over the past 10 years. From a technology standpoint, we are constantly evolving, and the need and demand for hardware expansion, specifically with the GPU, continues to increase significantly. I think there will be a number of improvements that AI can make to solve the problem: offloading more resources to the CPU, optimizing legacy systems, etc., but I think it’s wishful thinking to assume that we can reduce e-waste as we go along. Push the boundaries of technology and hardware to create things never before imagined. This appears to be a problem that will not be meaningfully solved over the next decade, and in fact, I expect it to get worse before it gets better, with AI exacerbating the problem over a 5-10 year time horizon.
ct: If AI could be used to improve graphics, offer unlimited maps (for free world) or a never-ending story, but you could only choose one, which one would you choose as a player, and why?
Ru: This is a matter of personal preference, but I hope we see both. I think the storylines and NPCs [non-player characters] It could develop significantly from what it is today. We’ve seen stunning, beautiful open worlds expand in parallel with computational and hardware improvements. Although expansive worlds are not infinite, they have played an important role in gaming over the past decade.
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For me, one area that needs improvement is how we deal with NPCs in games. This has been fairly archaic for some time and relied largely on linear lines of communication and pre-programmed dialogue. This is already changing with companies like Inworld AI and the work they do; Their technology helps game developers create unique and memorable AI-powered NPCs through a fully integrated character engine.
Their engine goes beyond large language models (LLMs) by adding security, knowledge, memory, and other configurable controls. The characters then have distinct personalities and contextual awareness, which is crazy to see from the player’s perspective.
We haven’t had these kind of conversational interactions within games before, so it’s hard to think about how we’re going to change the industry because it’s just something that was previously unfathomable. Once these developer tools are seamlessly integrated into the proprietary engines of major AAA publishers, you will see a new era of immersive gaming experiences. I also think you’ll see a significant lifting of the load on the game development cycle allowing for expanded worlds not just through big studios with companies like Kaedim; You can effectively reduce all the hours wasted on modeling by creating stunning 3D artworks with nothing more than a photo. These are the types of tools that will advance and multiply game development and lead us into a new era of gaming.
The interesting thing is that these two topics will collide over the next decade!
CT: What are your thoughts on blockchain gaming? How did you find it different from traditional/mainstream titles?
Blockchain games are another tool in the tool belt for game developers and players to change the way we interact with games. By storing assets and information on the blockchain, which is not owned by any intermediary, we can expand the exchange of value between game developers, users and players (peer-to-peer). This is done inefficiently today, and although some examples come close, such as CS:GO, it is still far from perfect.
The entire cryptocurrency space is going through a much-needed reset, weeding out the bad actors, and from the dust, you will see true pioneers and innovators with good intentions emerge. The unfortunate misuse of the financial aspects of cryptocurrencies has made many game developers, especially in the West, wary of integrating blockchain technology into their gaming infrastructure, which I believe is only temporary.
However, in the East, we see major game developers (e.g., Square Enix and Nexon) fully committing to blockchain games because of the new game mechanics and relationships that can be created between players and developers. I fully expect a resurgence of application-layer-based blockchain conversations in 2024-2025, which will do a better job of illustrating the power of launching games on blockchain infrastructure stacks, even if only certain aspects of games are built on them. Over the last three years, cryptocurrencies have dominated conversations in the infrastructure layer (blockchain) and finance (decentralized finance (DeFi) sector), and the abuse has ironically come from bad actors on centralized platforms (like FTX) that do not. And even embrace the core values of decentralization.
CT: From a gamer’s perspective, what do you think AI can do to help with the widespread adoption of blockchain games?
Ru: I’m not sure if blockchain gaming will be widely adopted anytime soon; We’re still years away from that, and there are great companies pushing the boundaries here, like Immutable, but I believe that as AI becomes physically indistinguishable from reality, there is value in blockchain taking responsibility for advancing AI. This is because blockchains are transparent and immutable, meaning they can be used to track and verify the provenance of AI-generated content. This is important because it will help ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly and does not create harmful or misleading content.
I am sure that in the future we will see blockchain hosting real and verifiable information in a world where things coming from artificial intelligence are indistinguishable from reality. This is because blockchains provide a secure and tamper-proof way to store data, which is essential to ensuring the authenticity and reliability of AI-generated content.
CT: Despite the involvement of the people behind the mainstream titles, the blockchain gaming industry has not taken off, unlike other cryptocurrency sub-ecosystems. What could have been done differently?
Ru: I think this is largely misleading due to timing expectations and the underwhelming first iteration of blockchain gaming. Game development cycles are very long, and the first batch of blockchain games were either primitive, rushed to market, had faulty incentive mechanisms, were not well produced or had other issues. There were also problems with the blockchain infrastructure that took time to overcome, [such as] Gas costs, difficult user commutes, and other infrastructure challenges are now beginning to be solved by Layer 1 and Layer 2 protocols.
However, I have seen a lot of great blockchain games in development that will be released in 2024 to 2025. These games will really explore the uniqueness that blockchain games have to offer. Games are a massive creativity boost, and games that go in-depth with small or large teams will ultimately need more time to showcase their work. There has been a significant amount of capital deployed into blockchain games, several billion dollars, and we have only seen a single percentage of releases from this pool of investment.
CT: What went wrong with blockchain gaming? Why don’t players buy into the idea of playing for profit?
Playing for profit as a philosophy is not crazy. Game developers are always looking to reward players for spending more time in their game because longer session times equate to more value, which the game developer gets. So, in theory, the idea of devoting time to a game and being rewarded for it is not a new game mechanic.
“Play to win” games in blockchain games attempt to expand on the concept of an exchange of value from developer to player.
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However, it is really difficult to balance economies when they are not autonomous in every aspect due to their decentralized nature. Ultimately, this either led to abuse of the class, unfortunate attempts to do the right thing and then failure, or it would need a lot more tinkering to eventually find the right code and economic strategy.
CT: From a different angle, what benefit can AI and blockchain bring to mainstream gaming? What could force developers to adopt the technology and bring it into their existing gameplay?
Ru: There’s definitely a chicken-and-egg problem here. Game developers need to push the boundaries of what these technologies can do, learn from them, iterate on them and then show them to players to see if this is what they really want. But ultimately, the big games continue to dominate viewership on YouTube and Twitch.
Steam’s top games, like DotA and CS, have remained a juggernaut, and hit titles like Minecraft and Roblox are generational unicorns. Both games took more than a decade to materialize into what we know today. In order to achieve mass adoption, you will need to see these games permeated by technology. I think these two technologies – AI and blockchain – will have a great moment from native app developers and indie game developers. However, for true mass adoption, larger players will inevitably need to integrate the technology.
Disclaimer: White is an angel investor in several AI, gaming, and blockchain companies, including Immutable and Kaedim, both of which are mentioned in his responses.
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