In a whirlwind start to 2024, the gaming industry has found itself at the forefront of a new trend – the surge of generative artificial intelligence (AI). The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) served as the epicentre for this seismic shift, with announcements from major players igniting a maelstrom of confusion, outrage, and ethical quandaries.
Nvidia, a leading technology company, aimed to dazzle audiences with the unveiling of its Ace microservice at CES. This powerful suite of tools demonstrated the creation of AI non-playable characters with fully voiced interactions, promising an immersive gaming experience. However, what should have been a marvel turned into a PR crisis due to Nvidia’s initial ambiguity about the data sets used for training.
When questioned by Digital Trends about the origin of the training data, Nvidia’s elusive response triggered social media speculation. Concerns emerged that the AI tool might have been trained on copyrighted material. After facing nearly two days of backlash, Nvidia clarified that Ace is exclusively trained on data it possesses the rights to, attempting to assuage concerns about potential intellectual property infringement.
The controversy didn’t end there. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) added fuel to the fire by entering into a deal with Replica Studios, an AI platform creating digital voices. While SAG-AFTRA claimed the agreement involved consenting members, dissenting voices within the guild, such as iconic voice actor Steve Blum, surfaced on social media. The lack of unanimity among the guild’s members raised questions about the ethical implications of such agreements.
CES also showcased peculiar applications of generative AI, such as MSI’s MEG 321URX QD-OLED monitor. Equipped with an AI accelerator, the monitor analysed the League of Legends mini-map to mark enemy locations. While this feature had potential accessibility benefits, critics saw it as a potential tool for sanctioned cheating in competitive esports.
The bizarre took centre stage with an AI hologram of Mario appearing on the show floor, instructing attendees on how to buy video games from Target. The unconventional display, sponsored by AARP, left attendees puzzled. Proto Hologram and AARP later clarified that Nintendo was not involved in the unplanned proof of concept.
Another oddity emerged with AI Shark, a revamped version of the classic GameShark cheat tool, now rebuilt as AI software. AI Shark claimed a partnership with audio company Altec Lansing and hinted at the release of the Nintendo Switch 2 in September 2024. However, the company later backtracked on this claim, leaving industry observers bewildered and questioning the reliability of AI-driven information.
CES 2024 highlighted a disorganized and chaotic landscape within the video game industry. While generative AI promises innovation, the rapid succession of announcements created an atmosphere of uncertainty. Companies appeared overeager to adopt AI without addressing the ethical concerns surrounding its implementation. The controversies raised questions about the potential impact on real designers and actors, as well as the risk of a future where automation trumps artistic intent.
The existential worry looms large – are we building a gaming future devoid of humanity, where AI-generated content prioritizes quantity over quality? The unveiling of products like Nvidia Ace and the misleading tactics of companies like AI Shark underscore the need for careful consideration of AI ethics within the gaming industry.
As CES offered a glimpse into the trajectory of generative AI, it left many questioning the path ahead. If the disarray witnessed at CES is any indication, there is a pressing need for the gaming industry to address ethical concerns and ensure a thoughtful integration of generative AI that respects both art and humanity.