The history of AI in the gaming industry

AI Magazine looks back at the history of AI’s deployment in the gaming industry and explore the current leaders in this sphere

In terms of player immersion, AI technology is consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. 

We take a look back at the history of AI’s deployment in the gaming industry and explore the current leaders in this sphere.

1959: Arthur Samuel's checkers programme

AI and ML pioneer Arthur Samuel devised the Samuel Checkers-playing Programme. 

This was one of the first instances of successful self-learning programmes in the world, and a clear (albeit very early) insight into the power and future of AI.

1980: PAC-MAN is released

The 1980s saw a significant increase in the pace of AI’s deployment in gaming. One of the earliest (and most renowned) being PAC-MAN. 

The PAC-MAN game broke new ground, using a simple AI model to control its iconic ghosts.

1984: Elite is released

Another key landmark in the decade’s successes was the release of the space game Elite. 

For the creation of its vast universe, developers used a procedural generation system.

2001: Halo is released

The release of Halo represented a major advancement in the deployment of AI in games. This first-person shooter game – which has generated over $5bn in sales to date – is renowned for its highly realistic, responsive, and adaptive AI enemy characters.

2005: F.E.A.R. is released

In the 2000s, games used AI in rapidly more complex ways. The horror series F.E.A.R. was one of the leaders in this field, using AI systems to make enemy behaviour more sophisticated, unpredictable, and realistic.

2022: 40th anniversary of Microsoft Flight Simulator

The most recent versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator have been making big headlines – both in the gaming world and, indeed, in the wider tech industry. 

The simulator has always been perceived as a tech pioneer, and the most recent version uses AI to generate an extremely high-fidelity version of the real world – with copies of more than 1.5bn buildings.


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