Sitting in a Bath tearoom having just wiped the lemon curd from my fingers I was tasked with interrogating a robot about a murder. The interrogation scene was the GDC demo for Spirit AI [official site] – middleware geared around bringing more expressive characters to gaming as well as building safer and more inclusive online environments. Both hinge around the same set of technologies. They each look at language to understand interactions but one uses that understanding to build meaningful encounters with AI characters and the other uses it to keep an eye on how players are behaving towards one another.
I was sitting with Mitu Khandaker, creative director at Spirit AI. You might remember her work as the developer, The Tiniest Shark, on the game Redshirt or, if you’re in academia, she’s an assistant arts professor at NYU Game Center and holds a PhD in games and the aesthetics of interactivity. She was watching me play through the demo, using natural language to try to figure out how a man called Martin died and whether the robot is culpable. The demo was by Bossa Studios, makers of Surgeon Simulator, and it gave me a limited amount of time to chat with the robot – me typing and the robot speaking into the tearoom with a female voice in a Scottish accent – before asking for my verdict on her guilt. Read the rest of this entry »