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  • Robert Farago

In-Game AI Chatbots Are Coming!

Schmooze with Sheep!

Talking to in-game characters is enormously unsatisfying. Oh sure, they share backstories, identify goals and give strategic advice. But they say what they have to say to keep the action moving forward, responding to pre-assigned prompts. They don’t listen. They don’t, you know, schmooze.

That’s why multiplayer video games are so popular. Interacting with “real” people adds a social element that makes the games stickier than a peanut butter and honey sandwich. What’s more fun than having fun in a group united in their love of Christ? I mean, their desire to rid the world of humanoids, monsters, aliens, robots, the undead and tax collectors.

Live streaming multiplayer video games are so much fun people pay to watch other people having fun playing them, both online and in-person.

A practice that highlights the inherent problem with socially interactive video games: high-level gamers suck. They’re mean, vindictive, egomaniacal, unreliable, insensitive, nerdy AF and hyper-competitive. They’re about as welcoming as a bouncer at a hot nightclub.

O.K., not all live gamers answer to that description. But there’s a reason so many people watch live gamers from the sidelines: they lack social skills on both sides of the screen. Newbies who want to join a pocket protector of online gamers better have patience, chops and a thick skin (anonymity is a thin shield).

In-game AI chatbots solve this psychologically dangerous participatory problem. Not only will gamers play in a world of believably human-like NPC’s (Non-Player Characters), they’ll quest alongside non-judgemental digital companions programmed to inspire, amuse, delight, entertain and enthrall. (But not annoy, unless someone AI’s Jar Jar Binks, Gungan style).

In-game AI chatbots will make video games stickier to a lot more people.

More sticky = more money = here it comes walking down the the street, getting funny looks from, everyone it meets. In other words, the industry is already monkeying around with the technology.

Minecraft AI mod AIMobs (opens in new tab) allows you to have conversations with individual mobs (Minecraft's term for NPCs). You can converse with an Enderman, a Creeper, a Sheep, a Villager, a Cow, or any living (or undead thing) and it will tell you specific things about itself. For example, an Iron Golem told me that it's not actually a robot, but a magic creature. You can also ask more generic, Minecraft or non-Minecraft questions and the mobs will give you an answer. 
Keep in mind, though, that you only get to chat. You can ask a mob to help you with a task, but it will only give you advice. For example, when I asked an Axolotl for some Netherite, it told me that I could find some in the Nether. If you don't want to chat with mobs but do want ChatGPT available from the Minecraft chat function, another mod called MCChatGPT (opens in new tab) provides that service.

I’m wondering why reporter Avram Piltch didn’t know that Netherite is found in his Nether regions (so to speak), but that’s nether here nor there.

AI videogame chatbots are the industry’s next big thing (not VR). They will lead gamers to some strange places – and I’m not referring to the magic mushroom inspired landscapes beloved of players seeking to escape their parents’ basement or some lonely apartment farm.

Remember that crack about players uniting in Christ? It’s a thing. Sites like help the faithful find scripturally appropriate digital diversions.

Imagine an in-game AI chatbot (or chatbots) guiding the player past demons to accept Jesus as their personal savior. One that knows the player’s personal history. Or will know it through in-game interaction.

Now that’s what I call proper propaganda: personal, interactive, exciting, addictive, easily accessible and relatively inexpensive messaging targeted at alienated youth. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got nothing against my Christian friends.

The same in-game AI chatbot “brainwashing” opportunity exists for, say, the U.S. Army. (And don’t they just know it.)

Anyway, you can’t stop the signal. Not when it’s worth $221.4 billion.

On the flip side, the rise of the in-game AI chatbots opens-up a new field: de-programming. It’ll be a step beyond today’s video game addiction treatment, which relies on cognitive behavioral therapy. It’ll involve in-game AI chatbot warfare. Brave new world indeed.

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