A PS5 patent recently submitted by Sony Interactive Entertainment outlines a new artificial intelligence program that would study a player's behavior and try its best to mimic them. Specifically, it attempts to "simulate human game play" by monitoring their player profile and adjusting it to a "game play style customized to the user."
This technology seems ambitious, but could yield controversial results. On one hand, the application of this patent sounds useful for disabled gamers who find themselves unable to proceed past demanding portions in a game. This sort of assistance could be groundbreaking and make way for a far more inclusive medium.
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However, this technology is not just limited to single-player games. As written in the patent, "in a competitive multi-player game the user can allow the game play controller to take over game play of the user, so that the user is able to break away from the game."
This could cause plenty of issues. What if the artificial intelligence is more skilled than the player? And if the player figures this out, what if they always gives control to the A.I. to win competitive matches?
If players are jumping into Overwatch sessions, they're typically anticipating a competition against other people. Is it fair to put players up against someone who might be using an A.I. software to enhance their gameplay performance? Isn't this the equivalent of cheating?
The example Sony provides specifically refers to how a "request may be delivered so that the user may step away from the game" to either cook dinner, work, or do something more important that might be happening around them. When viewed in this limited scope, it's definitely a great idea, but the system could be abused. How much leeway could this program have and how much control can players give it?
It's also weird to imagine a player using an A.I. program to complete tedious or grindy portions of a game. If players need to go this far just to bypass the worst aspects of modern game design, I think it's safe to say those design philosophies should no longer be present to begin with.
However, this patent could make games more accessible for disabled players and that is more than enough reason for Sony to invest in it, even with all its potential drawbacks.