The first International Summer School on Artificial Intelligence and Games will take place in Chania, Crete, from May 28 to June 01, 2018. The summer school is dedicated to the uses of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in and for games. After introductory lectures that explain the background and key techniques in AI and games, the school will introduce participants to the uses of AI in playing games, generating content for games and modeling players. As the General Secretariat for Media and Communication of the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media is actively committed to the development of Greek audiovisual production with a focus on animation and video games, it will participate as a communication partner in this endeavour, together with Mazinnov.
Greek News Agenda interviewed the main lecturers of the Summer School, Georgios N. Yannakakis and Julian Togelius, co-authors of the AI and Games textbook (http://www.gameaibook.org), the first comprehensive textbook on the use of AI in games. Professor Georgios Yannakakis, Director of the Institute of Digital Games University of Malta, and Julian Togelius, Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, New York University Tandon School of Engineering talk about studying and designing games, while advise youngsters interested in game developping to make as many games as posible.
Can you tell us a few words about the aims and objectives of the programme and the target audience?
Yannakakis: The summer school is dedicated to the uses of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in and for games. After introductory lectures that explain the background and key techniques in AI and games, the school will introduce participants to the uses of AI for playing games, generating content for games and modeling players. This school is suitable for industrial game developers, designers, programmers and practitioners, but also for graduate students in games, artificial intelligence, design, human-computer interaction, and computational intelligence.
The main lecturers are Julian Togelius and I, co-authors of the AI and Games textbook (http://www.gameaibook.org), the first comprehensive textbook on the use of AI in games. During the first phase of the school, theoretical lectures will be complemented by guest lectures on special topics in game AI and by hands-on workshops given by world-leading practitioners from DeepMind, Ubisoft, Unity, Yokozuna Data, Spirit AI, and other partners. For the second phase of the school, we plan a game AI jam on the taught material.
What kind of advice would you give to youngsters who would like to work professionally in the video game industry?
Togelius: Make games! Go to game jams, and make games in your spare time. Make different kinds of games and follow your own creative vision. It certainly does not have to be perfect, but it has to be interesting. Learn to use a good game engine such as Unity, but don't be constrained by that. Also, read up on the latest developments in artificial intelligence, as AI will transform how games are made.
Yannakakis: Well, choosing the right academic programme is kind of crucial for those who would like to learn how to make games but more importantly, work as professional AI programmers. A bachelor’s degree that would give you the appropriate theoretical basis in computer science, engineering and applied sciences, followed by a master’s degree focused on game design and game technology, are important steps towards a career in the game industry. At the Institute of Digital Games, we have successfully combined game development and AI research with digital humanities, offering a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills for upcoming professionals.
Yannakakis: I believe that in the short term AI will be able to guess players’ abilities and help us design better games overall. Of course, to some extend we have already succeeded in achieving these goals and we have beautiful games to prove it. But as AI researchers,our ultimate goal is to create algorithms that can not only create unique games, but also give us feedback on the experience they provide, for example if the game is enjoyable or not. Designing personalized interactive systems for entertainment, education, training and, why not, health, on the basis of procedural content generation, is also an important area of research.
Togelius: AI will make completely new game types available. There will be games based on generating content automatically to fit the preferences and skills of particular players. But AI methods will also make it easier to develop games, as we can automatically test games and generate some parts of games automatically. And we can also look forward to more intelligent and interesting game characters.
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