In June 26-30 2023, the AI and Games Summer School held its 5th annual event at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, which aimed to delve into emerging AI tools and techniques in gaming. Although the summer school had its academic roots, it welcomed industry speakers to showcase their work and offer insights into AI in games. Moreover, it attracted both enthusiasts—who wanted to learn about AI for fun—and professionals already working with this technology at major game studios. Thus students from different disciplines could learn how AI is shaping the future of gaming together.
Exploring the Academic and Research-Focused Summer School
The summer school, expertly hosted by Dr. Georgios Yannakakis and Dr. Julian Togelius, distinguished figures in AI for games research, aimed to provide an in-depth understanding of the emerging AI tools and techniques in the gaming domain. The week-long event aimed to bring participants up to speed on emerging AI tools and techniques in the gaming world. While the focus leaned toward academic and research-oriented approaches, there was also a spotlight on cutting-edge innovations like deep learning and large language models. This distinguished the summer school from industry-focused events like the AI Summit at GDC, which focuses on current AI tools in game development. The Summer School instead highlighted potential future techniques. While many lectures introduced concepts from successful academic research, they had yet to be fully applied in commercial games.
An Intersection of Academia and Industry
Despite its academic leanings, the summer school didn’t exclude industry professionals. Inviting speakers from academia and industry allowed attendees to gain insights into the work being done in research and development, as well as commercial titles. Industry giants such as Microsoft Research, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Riot Games, Creative Assembly, Square Enix, Google DeepMind, NVIDIA, GoodAI, and many more. Contributed their perspectives and ideas on the future of AI in gaming. This mix of views created a well-rounded program that catered to a diverse audience.
Industry Insights and the Realities of AI in Games
One of the highlights of the summer school was gaining insights into the application of AI in the gaming industry. Speakers like Duygu Cakmak from Creative Assembly and Wesley Kerr from Riot Games shed light on the practical challenges of integrating machine learning and deep learning techniques into game development. On AI and Games Plus’s vlog, he highlights Marek Rosa’s captivating presentation on GoodAI’s Sims-like game governed by large language models. While the concept was impressive, the practicality and cost limitations became evident. These industry insights bridged the gap between research ideas and their application in commercial games, providing valuable perspectives for the attendees.
Engaging in the Game Jam
Amidst all the talks, the summer school dedicated Thursday and Friday to a game jam, where attendees could collaborate and create games within a 30-hour timeframe. In his unique way, Tommy Thompson, AI and Games, jumped in to provide guidance and support to the participants. The games developed during the jam showcased a wide range of creativity and ideas, many surprisingly incorporating GPT (large language models). From CharmaGeddon to Madio and Coffee in July, each game displayed the participants’ ingenuity and innovation. Thanks to David Melhart and Antonios Liapis from the University of Malta, who made this all possible.
A Week of Innovation and Collaboration
The AI and Games Summer School 2023 was an unforgettable experience for all the attendees. The event brought together experts, researchers, and industry professionals to explore the exciting realm of AI in gaming.
From thought-provoking lectures and engaging panel discussions to the collaborative game jam, the event offered a holistic view of AI in gaming. The event provided a platform to catch up with old friends, make new connections, and witness firsthand the challenges of bridging the gap between research and industry.
For those interested in attending the next summer school, keep an eye on their website for announcements. It’s an incredible chance to be part of a tight-knit community, expand your knowledge, and contribute to the ever-evolving world of AI in games.