Have You Talked With Your Game Lately?

Game Developers Push Limits Of Linguistic Interactivity

Gaming engineers are tinkering with a new technology known as “Chatbot” in an effort to tackle one of “the last uncracked problems” in video-game design: How to let gamers verbally communicate with their in-game characters.

The new Sherlock Holmes video game “221b” will attempt to utilize the new software to allow players to verbally interrogate witnesses in the game, where victory is incumbent on cajoling the right answers out of suspicious digital characters.

“It’s our role to predict what you might know at that point in the game and the questions you might ask,” explained Rollo Carpenter of the digital developing company Existor to BBC News.

… Carpenter is an award-winning program designer who specializes in creating software that mimics real-life human conversation.

Instead of traditional approaches to digital interactivity which involve the game making lists of possible questions and answers, his technology allows game characters to make a “fuzzy interpretation” of what the player says to them in order to come up with an appropriate answer.

… Another expert in gaming technology, Dr. Mike Reddy of the University of Wales, has long been interested in the use of human language with artificial intelligence.

Dr. Reddy, who teaches game development and artificial intelligence, points to a novel technique used by creators of the Nintendo DS game “Scribblenauts.”

“In this game, the player evokes objects and characters by typing or writing their name,” he told BBC News.

The player can simply type in a word like “tractor” or “airplane” to cue the game to send out the object of choice. Things get interesting when the various objects have to be linked together to solve problems.

RedOrbit – 27 December 2009

See also:
ELIZA
Chatterbots
Natural language processing
Turing test