The argument is being made that artificial intelligence will create more jobs in the video game industry, as well as more games, and free up game devs to be more creative. However, the counter-argument is still prevalent, in that AI will replace humans in many ways in the industry and simply pad the pockets of the CEOs.

AI has been a volatile topic of discussion, especially within the past year or so. Many are worried that they will be replaced with AI technology. That concern is in large part why Hollywood actors and screenwriters are on strike at the moment. But there is another perspective being given that says AI is not out for anyone’s job, but instead will take away the menial tasks of humans in their work environment, bolster creativity, and actually create more jobs in industries such as making video games.

Dr. Richard Wilson, head of The Independent Game Developer’s Association (TIGA), recently remarked in an interview that AI “will reduce the cost of making games and speed up the process.” An aspect that most assuredly appeals to CEOs and investors within the gaming industry.

While AI has been used to make video games for years now, it is arriving at a place in development where it can do much more than in the past. The ability of AI to write an entire script for a game within minutes (if not seconds), create voices for background characters, and design much of the art used in the game, is a game changer in the eyes of some of the CEOs in the business.

“It should allow game studios to make routine aspects of game development automated, and then use that space to be more creative and focus on other areas,” Dr. Wilson added.

However, many lower down in the industry have a different perspective when it comes to how AI can and will be used. In one particular area of game development, entry-level game developer who creates barks (those one-liners NPCs often say over and over in a game) see their jobs as being completely taken over by AI in the near future.

The problem with this is that this position has been used by many as a means of breaking into a very crowded and inclusive industry. Janine Hawkins pointed out in a series of posts on Twitter about the issue, “The majority of what I do, and what I have been doing since 2018, is bark writing. I’ve done other things of course, particularly since signing on at Twin Suns, but like most game writers barks are where I cut my teeth.”

One of the AI tools being used is Ubisoft’s Ghostwriter, which is designed in part to write those basic lines of dialogue called barks. In an interview, Hawkins remarked, “I have no doubt that the writers currently working with the tool and tuning it to their needs enjoy using it or find it helpful.” She went on to add, “But all it takes is an executive saying, ‘Our writers can do twice as many barks now, so why do we need the same number of writers?’ for it to threaten scarce writing jobs.”

Another job that is being threatened in the gaming industry, and other industries as well, is that of human artists. Generative AI removes the need to pay a human artist a commission, thus cutting down the cost of producing a game and the time it takes to make it. But it does have some controversy surrounding its use.

“It just opens up a whole can of worms because there was no regulation on AI and how it’s used. There’s no copyright strike on anything that people have done,” remarked a game developer, speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Verge. “They were never made with artists in mind. It was not a bespoke tool. It bypassed artists completely.”

Dr. Tommy Thompson said in an interview with the BBC, “Who owns the copyright? With image generation, for example, there are several ongoing lawsuits where people are asking if their art was used as the basis for image creation, and was appropriate consent given?”

There are no doubt arguments for both sides of the coin when it comes to how AI is currently being utilized in the gaming industry, and where it is headed. The fact that it could indeed remove much of the drudgery of some code work, free up developers to be more creative, and in turn allow more time to be put into ensuring the game launches more smoothly is desirable.

Out of curiosity, we tasked ChatGPT to write an article on how AI replacing lower-level human jobs in gaming can help the games industry, and it provided another layer to the discussion. “AI’s integration into game development can also level the playing field for indie developers. Smaller studios often face resource constraints, making it challenging to compete with larger game development companies. By utilizing AI tools and platforms, indie developers can automate various tasks, reduce overhead costs, and focus more on creative aspects of game design. This democratization of game development can lead to a more diverse range of innovative games in the market.”

But the question still remains of how far is too far in terms of replacing the jobs that once belonged to humans who depend on that job for a source of income. While many may argue that those affected will just need to find a new line of work, at what point in the process of replacing humans with AI do CEOs in a wide range of industries finally say, “OK, we have made enough profit now, let these humans keep their jobs?” And where does the line get drawn with technology like generative AI, which takes its creativity from examples of human artwork?

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