There is something cool and meta to interact with, play or fight against artificial intelligence in video games. AI has captured our imaginations in prints, movies, and even song, but games give us the space to interact and see fantastic worlds from otherwise impossible perspectives.
To be completely clear, these are not the games with the smartest “AI CPU”. We are not discussing whether the “AI” in a game is hard to beat. We are talking about fictitious representations of artificial intelligence. Here is a practical introduction to the difference between the two concepts.
It was a tough list to make and I probably left your favorites out, but that’s only because I decided “best” meant: the ones I think had the most impact.
Hope you agree with at least a couple of things on this list, but honestly if you don’t and it starts a conversation about AI in video games, that’s just as good. .
On the list:
No, not the brave and sympathetic little fugitive “Number Five” (AKA Johnny Five) murder machine from the 1980s movie “Short Circuit”, we’re starting the list back down so we can count back to number one.
The Cylons of Battlestar Galactica: dead end kick things off because, well, they’re the perfect villain for a hardcore strategy wargame.
I love BSG: DL for many reasons. When it comes to turn-based tactical strategy games, I find it hard to think of which one I love the most. In essence, it’s a naval combat game with the added challenge of a vertical axis. The scope of the game is wide enough to show the enormity of your command ships and the dozens and dozens of ships all participating in the maneuvers and dance reactions that is tactical warfare.
But what really sets him apart is the enemy. When I play most war / strategy games, I have to reckon with some level of politics. When I drop bombs on enemy cities Iron Hearts IV or send my warriors to sack a town in a series of Civilization VI, I know I’m killing innocent digital civilians too, I don’t care if I want to win.
And that’s probably a good thing. We don’t want to get bogged down in the viscera and horror of war when we play, for example, the classic Battleship board game. It’s just a game, isn’t it?
But Battlestar Galactica: dead end lets me face reality without feeling like a genocidal jerk. Cylons are not humans. And, while they are sensitive and probably deserve to live, it is clear that they will not rest until every last human is destroyed. And it gives the whole game a sense of gravity and urgency that you just don’t get when painting the map in most strategy games.
It was easy: it’s Claptrap, it’s Claptrap, it’s always been Claptrap! I love Claptrap. In fact, I’ve never met a player who doesn’t.
Claptrap is one of the best things to come out of the famous Borderlands franchise. He first appeared in the original game as a sort of guide, and his role continued to grow until, ultimately, he became a playable character in the Borderlands pre-sequel, which was the third title released.
There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the release of Borderlands 3 because the original person who voiced Claptrap, a Gearbox employee named David Eddings, chose not to reprise the role. According to reports, he was not offered any money in connection with the concert. Gearbox said it wasn’t.
Anyway, while I certainly missed Eddings and praised their work as some of the best in video games, their replacement Jim Faronda did a great job in Part 3 as well.
Besides being really entertaining, hilarious, and at times endearing, the reason I included Claptrap on this list and not, say, the LGBTQPIA + FL4K icon, is because Claptrap isn’t just a Support character (and a once playable character): He’s a buffer between the bloody nature of the game with its psychopathic-is-the-norm attitude and the random silliness that permeates the gaming world.
Without Claptrap, Borderlands is just Mad Max with fart jokes.
My favorite AI character of all time is GLaDOS. This AI was once a human before becoming a disembodied voice, a chip on a potato (understood?), And ultimately a robot. The reason I love GLaDOS is so because it’s just plain sassy. This is the AI I would most like to spend time with at a party. But, like, in a weird, sneaky way where we make fun of everyone else.
Portal was one of those games that changed the way everyone viewed the game. People weren’t ready for the game’s amazing combination of stunning graphics, jaw-dropping comedy, and amazing gameplay.
Most importantly, they weren’t ready for the psychotic, murderous, cake-loving, liar intelligence that is GLaDOS.
GLaDOS, for my money, is the most entertaining AI in games. Not only is he hilarious, he is also a talented singer. The end credits for Portal features the entity singing a song called “Still Alive” which was so catchy that it ended up Rock group 3.
The robot species of Synthetic blade, a Stellaris DLC. There isn’t a character here that I can point out, but that’s why it’s a really close second to be my favorite fictional AI. You are the AI in Synthetic blade.
Stellaris is a great strategy game set in space where you control an entire civilization. With Synthetic blade you are able to become a sentient species of AI, and that means understanding and dealing with the unique challenges that come from high-tech machines in a galaxy full of organics.
The writing is great and the art and events are fantastic, but what really shines here is the little things. Playing as machines fundamentally changes the experience of governing in Stellaris in so many small ways that it essentially becomes an entirely different gaming experience.
With a mid-game crisis beating down on your borders, enemies in all directions, and at least half of the galaxy under the belief that your kind doesn’t matter, life as a civilization of the AI is difficult. But it’s also full of unique situations. You have, for example, the ability to purge organics and use their life force as energy to fuel your growth in The Matrix. And, over the course of many games, you will find old machine intelligences that will respond to your kind in ways life creatures could never understand.
[Related: Games to play on date night: Rule the galaxy together in Stellaris]
Maybe I’m biased, but as someone who gets paid to think about what it will be like if AI ever becomes sensitive, I find embodying robots at the political, economic, and military level in a game to be. extremely stimulating.
As much as I love to be the machines Stellaris, Cortana is clearly the winner here. As far as I know, there has never been a character from a video game that has literally come forward in real life before Cortana stepped out of Xbox and became everyone’s secretary.
Today, Cortana is most widely used as a Microsoft version of Alexa or Siri. In fact, you probably have the little circle icon at the bottom left of your taskbar right now if you’re on a PC. You can click on it and, just like Masterchief, ask Cortana to help you.
But, before it was just another AI that we mainly use to ask celebrity ages (I can’t be the only one), Cortana was the heart and soul of the Halo franchise. You might think it was the guy in the big green armor with the gun that looked suspiciously like the one in Ridley Scott’s “Aliens”, but it was clearly Cortana.
Halo was an early graphical sci-fi shooter, but it looked a lot like a modern war game. Warthogs really looked like sophisticated Humvees, and most human weapons, buildings, and vehicles had a fairly modern aesthetic. I can only assume that was to make them likable protagonists we could relate to when seen against the colorful, spiky alien enemies.
Cortana was the far-future plot piece Halo necessary to keep players in the sci-fi spirit as they roamed brown, green and gray landscapes. And, in some ways, it stays the same in the real world.
As we live in a world where the discourse on AI increasingly concerns our fears about privacy, misuse, and misalignment, Cortana is a sort of reminder that things have changed rapidly in recent years. . We couldn’t always just say, “Cortana, how’s it going in Amsterdam right now?” and ask a nice-sounding robot to give us the correct answer.
Cortana reminds us that the future is now. And, without a doubt, it has helped inspire the development of the AI systems we use today.
Published March 17, 2021 – 23:51 UTC