Gaming

Sony has patented an AI that can play video games for you

A new tool for cheating through long grind sessions — or for making games more accessible.

Happy Afro American father and son on couch at home, boy is covering his dad's eyes and smiling while dad is playing video game console in focus
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Sony has filed a patent for some sort of artificial intelligence that plays video games — like an autopilot for gaming. The patent, which was first found by SegmentNext, is for an “automated artificial intelligence control mode for playing specific tasks during gaming applications.” Haters of long grinding sessions rejoice.

Sony’s idea is that a complicated AI creation would watch you play a game for a certain period of time and learn how to complete the same tasks. Eventually, the AI would be able to make similar decisions to the player, giving it the ability to take over gameplay entirely. Hey, if a monkey can do it, why not AI?

It’s very unclear at this point whether or not Sony will actually put its massive resources behind this particular project. There are certainly cases where the ability to have artificial intelligence assist during gameplay would be useful, but other players might consider the AI’s assistance cheating.

Cheat mode or general assistance? — For many, the most obvious use case for an AI gaming assistant would be to help out with tasks either too menial or too difficult to be considered fun by the player. As evidenced by the comments section of this GameSpot report on the matter, this could quickly devolve into the realm of cheating. Hardcore gamers would no doubt object and consider AI assistance an unfair advantage.

The gamers are already angry and it’s still just a rumor.GameSpot

But an AI assistant could also make gaming a much more accessible experience. Those with disabilities might find it difficult to play through parts of a AAA title, for example, and an AI assist could allow them to enjoy games with much less frustration. Many modern games already include difficulty settings, and an AI assist would simply extend that spectrum even further.

AI is coming for gaming — Artificial intelligence has been used in game development for a long while now, especially in making non-player characters (NPCs) more realistic. But the gaming experience has been mostly untouched by AI.

Some of the world’s biggest gaming companies are now looking to change that. Sony created a full AI division back in 2019. Most of its projects have focused on realms far outside gaming, but this patent points in a different direction. Microsoft, owner of the Xbox platform, has an enormous AI team of its own.

Then again: we’re in the very early stages here. Sony might never perfect its game-playing AI. Or, perhaps, the risk of angering players with new ways to cheat will see the project scrapped entirely.