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The use of AI in video game development has always been a contentious topic. However, that has not stopped video game makers from exploring the use of AI in video games. Haiyan Zhang, the General Manager of Gaming AI at Xbox, announced a multi-year partnership with Inworld AI on November 6 “to build AI game dialogue and narrative tools at scale”.

Xbox Multi-Year Partnership With Inworld AI Further Dooms Video Game Workers?

“This partnership will bring together Inworld’s expertise in working with generative AI models for character development, Microsoft’s cutting-edge cloud-based AI solutions including Azure OpenAI Services, Microsoft Research’s technical insights into the future of play, and Team Xbox’s strengths in revolutionizing accessible and responsible creator tools for all developers,” Zhang wrote.

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According to Zhang, the goal is to responsibly create a “multi-platform AI toolset to assist and empower creators in dialogue, story and quest design”. The tools Xbox plans to create will;

  • Turn prompts into detailed scripts, quests, dialogue trees, and more
  • Integrate AI character runtime engine with the game client making the generation of new narratives, quests, stories, and more possible

Zhang mentioned that the company hopes to create a state-of-the-art AI tool that will be useful for both small and large game developers and available for any platform. The company claims that its goal is to “make it easier for developers to realize their visions”, but at what costs?

During the development of the tool, Zhang said they would collaborate with in-house studios as well as third-party studios to make sure the tool meets their needs “and inspire new possibilities for future games”. Xbox claims that the partnership with Inworld is a crucial step in their quest to empower game developers. But should we take their word for it?

Should game workers be worried about the Xbox and Inworld AI partnership?

Xbox Multi-Year Partnership With Inworld AI Further Dooms Video Game Workers?

For the record, I am not one of those who believe that AI will suddenly and completely take over the jobs of humans. Moreover, Xbox mentioned that their approach to AI is guided by three principles namely;

  • Meaningful innovation
  • Empowering people and organizations
  • Responsibility

These are really great principles—if adhered to. They further pledged that they are “committed to creating responsible AI by design, building on Microsoft’s AI principles and Microsoft’s Responsible AI Standard”. These are really reassuring words. However, with every new AI tool developed, more game workers are at the risk of facing steeper employment challenges either through losing their jobs or accepting lower remuneration.

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Firstly, whenever a production process is automated, tens of hundreds of workers will likely be rendered redundant because it will only take fewer hands to monitor the automation to make sure it is performing as it should. A gain for the studio and a loss for talented workers.

Xbox Multi-Year Partnership With Inworld AI Further Dooms Video Game Workers?

The effect of an AI tool like the one Microsoft is planning to create will be disastrous for game workers, writers in particular. Game scripts usually run into hundreds of pages and require a large team to get it done, depending on the game development time frame.

However, with AI, that team can be significantly trimmed down. The AI will do most of the work while a small team will be tasked with proofreading and making adjustments to the scripts. I can even bet that some studios will entirely eliminate the human input and stick with whatever is generated by the AI tool—if the tool is “good enough”.

The next problem is that those who may be tasked with reviewing these AI scripts may be pressured into accepting lower pay with the excuse that they are not really doing the heavy lifting. As of October 7, it was estimated that over 6,100 video game workers have lost their jobs. I wouldn’t be surprised if that figure gets tripled before the end of next year.

Xbox Multi-Year Partnership With Inworld AI Further Dooms Video Game Workers?

The truth is that humans can never compete effectively with machines in speed and repetitive tasks. Interestingly, video game development is often laden with repetitive tasks. So, no matter how much Xbox try to sugar-coat their AI foray, I doubt if any video game writer would be excited about the announcement. My best guess is that most are having a panic attack right now.

Reactions on social media on the Xbox and Inworld AI partnership have been negative

Video game stories still need the human touch and nuances that machines cannot replicate. This view was echoed by an X user with the handle @middleymadhouse in reaction to the news shared by The Game Awards on X.  

“This is disrespectful to all players and most importantly developers,” @middleymadhouse wrote. “An insult to the emotional connection we all make to characters and worlds through storytelling. If this is the way the industry moves forward, then I’m happy to spend my time with the last 40 years of gaming”.

Xbox Multi-Year Partnership With Inworld AI Further Dooms Video Game Workers?

My concern about job losses was also echoed in the comment section including by German voice actor Vincent Fallow who voiced Clive Rosfield in Final Fantasy 16, Dr. Nefarious in Ratchet and Clank, Pedro in One Piece, and others.

ALSO READ: AI Voice Synthesizer Could Steal Video Game Voice Actors’ Jobs

“All creatives see their jobs being replaced how can we not collectively drink ourselves to oblivion reading this?” Fallow wrote in response to the news.

Xbox Multi-Year Partnership With Inworld AI Further Dooms Video Game Workers?

However, not everyone thinks Xbox’s AI journey is a hopeless one. Mosnoi Ion (@ionmosnoi) wrote in response to the news saying, “That’s awesome news! As a fellow GPT developer, I’ve also been working on custom generative AI models. Exciting times for AI in gaming!”

TruAfricanHero (@TrueAfricanHero) also defended the partnership between Xbox and Inworld AI saying, “This’ll probably free up some redundant jobs and people who aren’t that good at what they do. I’m interested in seeing where this goes”.

The debate about the use of AI will definitely continue for years to come. Personally, I think the use of AI in video game development is inevitable. If it doesn’t happen today, it will happen some other day. Simply hating the use of AI in games will only delay the inevitable.

ALSO READ: CD Projekt Red Used AI To Recreate The Voice Of A Dead Voice Actor In Phantom Liberty

The only way to stay relevant is to reskill, or better still, start your own game studio where you call the shots. Unfortunately, hate AI or love it, the world will keep evolving and AI appears to be the next stage in that evolution.

By the way, if you are unsure of what Inworld can do with AI, check out Inworld Origins on Steam. It’s a short created by the Inworld AI team to showcase how AI can be used to power NPCs.

Are you in support or against the use of AI in video game development?

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Categories: News

Anthony Emecheta

Anthony Emecheta has over a decade experience as a freelance writer. Gaming has always been a childhood hobby and he is excited to be collaborating with a gaming company as a content creator. It is like having all the things he loves in one place.

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