Videogames are fantastic. Videogames are engaging, entertaining, and often educational (although not in the ways we might think). The games industry is growing financially as well as artistically, and pretty soon we’re going to see games eclipse most other forms of entertainment.
Videogames and Science are friends. In the old days, AI researchers used to love looking at boardgames and trying to write code to master them. That research still goes on, but now we’re thinking bigger. Chess is yesterday’s news – what if, instead of trying to master a game designed by humans, we tried to design a game for humans to master?
Science loves Videogames. It turns out that videogames are pretty good subjects for study. They’re often extremely complex, being both real-time and often continuous in nature. Add to that the fact that millions of people spend millions of hours a week playing them, and you’re looking at the potential for interesting problems combined with lots of data. Perfect conditions for an ole fashioned experimentin’.
Videogames love Science. Like all good relationships, science does its bit for videogames too. We now have better artificial intelligence powering our characters, wider and more varied content being generated by more and more complicated algorithms. Today’s researchers are asking big, huge questions and getting awesome, insane results. It all means that you’re playing better games.
And so, ANGELINA! Which brings us to my PhD project – can we evolve entire games from nothing? Can we start with literally nothing at all, except a few basic ideas about what a game contains, and ask a computer to design levels, populate them with characters, and wrap it all up in a ruleset that is both challenging and fun? Well? Can we?
I don’t know! But for as long as I can, I’m going to do my darndest to find out. You’re very welcome to see how I get on by keeping up with this blog. We’ll also be posting ANGELINA’s games here too – I hope you’ll like them (ANGELINA in theory hopes you’ll like them too, but I haven’t programmed it to hope for things yet).
Taken by the excellent JJ Merelo at EvoStar 2013!
Michael Cook is a PhD student at Imperial College in London, where he also studied for an MEng Computing. He’s also a Research Associate at Goldsmiths College’s Computational Creativity Group. Fancy getting in touch? I’m always interested in hearing from people! mike @ gamesbyangelina.org