AI – A brief introduction
Artificial intelligence is not a new concept. Many of us have dreamed about it since childhood and have seen both the positive and negative sides of it in books and movies. People have been developing AI systems for many years, and I myself wrote a thesis on Artificial Intelligence during my computer science degree over 15 years ago, where I designed and developed AI players for a real-time strategy game. It’s a topic that is close to my heart.
We are in the middle of the journey towards AI, and fully self-aware machines that can truly mimic humans, like the ones we see in movies, are a long way away. Yet, in recent months, AI has become increasingly prevalent in the news. Systems that were just okay 12 months ago are now capable of amazing things. And perhaps, the first real interactions that many of us will knowingly have with AI are starting to happen.
I say “knowingly” because AI has been around in various forms for a long time. For example, artists have been using tools in Adobe Photoshop for years that use AI in some form to achieve effects such as content filling and object selection.
The recent increase in AI discussion is mainly happening due to chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard, and image platforms like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney. I would describe these tools in a similar way to early computers or the start of the internet. They are already extremely capable systems that can achieve complex tasks, but the interfaces to them are somewhat lacking. You still need to have a good understanding of how they work to get the most out of them while we wait for future iterations to create more intuitive ways to interface with them.
This makes now a great time to get ahead of the curve and start thinking about ways that AI can enhance our daily lives and the work that we do. Consider the tractor for the farmer, the calculator for the accountant, or the camera for the portraitist. These tools have changed those professions and allowed those who have learned to use them to achieve much more, faster, and more efficiently, while likely making fewer mistakes.
The power of AI is not to replace but to enhance.
As a designer ChatGPT can help me make better games, as an artist Stable Diffusion can help improve my illustrations, and as a publisher the opportunities are endless.
In the months to come, I will be writing more about AI and giving specific use cases for how different professions within our industry can use AI to enhance their capabilities.
However, I want to finish today’s article with a simple use case for ChatGPT and how any publisher can use it to make their games more accessible. For a game I am currently working on, I have copied the rulebook, text from various components, and descriptions of the game into ChatGPT and asked it to assess the language I have used from the perspective of a 12-year-old child with a standard US education. This has provided a list of words and sentences that they may not be able to fully understand, and allowed me to decide whether the wording should be rephrased. While this does not replace the role of an editor or writer, as they are still critical parts of the process, it enhances my abilities to make sure the game is as accessible as possible to my audience at the click of a button.
I look forward to writing more about this topic in the future, but in the meantime I would love to know your thoughts on AI and whether you have been exploring how it can help enhance you and your team’s capabilities?
Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!
4th May 2023 at 2:38 pm
The smartest routes I’ve found with AI tools is using it to create tools that help you do want you’re wanting to accomplish or speeding up research on a topic. In my case, that means using art generation to create digital brushes or textures to do more complicated artistic techniques in Midjourney/Dall-E. The other has been for research through ChatGPT—for me it’s things like specific coding language references or best practices that would take me hours of research instead.
4th May 2023 at 2:43 pm
I think these are great examples Josh. I particularly like the digital brushes and textures. I was watching an artist use these to their advantage recently in helping improve an image via Stable Diffusion by generating parts of the image and tools in multiple steps to later combine into a final image, it was really interesting!
4th May 2023 at 11:33 pm
Thanks, Frank. This is great! I work as an instructional designer in higher ed, so I’m currently trying to change the faculty’s fear (panic) of AI into a curiosity at the new opportunities that it could afford in their courses. Just last week, I worked with an awesome digital communication professor to create a group project that has students use ChatGPT to analyze social media content they’ve collected and generate simulated data based on that. Students then build off that data for subsequent milestones in their project. As you say, it enhances rather than replaces their work, allowing their projects to feel more “real-world.” I’m really excited to see what students do with this.
Your rulebook assessment is a clever use case. Even if it doesn’t replace the writer and editor, I can see how that would be very valuable for dynamically checking accessibillity. I currently use John Kohl’s Global English Style Guide when teaching my students how to write for international/intercultural audiences, but you’ve given me some food for thought on how I could enhance that lesson by having chatbots roleplay as certain audiences as well.
Thanks again for a wonderful post. I look forward to hearing more of your findings and thoughts on AI in the future!
5th May 2023 at 11:18 am
Thank you Chris! I’m really glad to hear there are people like yourself working with faculties exploring the good side of these tools and how they can open up opportunities for students. The example you gave of using ChatGPT to analyse data and generate information is a great way of demonstrating some of the benefits.
I’ve found ChatGPT is great at taking the role of a person you describe and both creating and feeding back as someone from that role. It’s certainly not always perfect (and that’s where we have to use common sense) but it’s proving very helpful in improving writing for specific audiences.
15th May 2023 at 11:50 am
thats a good idea… For me writing on english is a bit difficult. I have dyslexia and sometimes the sentences come out all butchered. I am finding useful to ask ChatGPT to rewrite my emails. I work faster this way.
On the other hand the other day I ask ChatGPT to “explain different ways to use a jigsaw puzzle as a tabletop game mechanism”
he came out with this:
There are several ways to use a jigsaw puzzle as a tabletop game mechanism. Here are a few ideas:
1. Race to Complete: This is a simple and straightforward game where players race to complete the puzzle first. Players can choose the same puzzle or different puzzles of equal difficulty. The first person to complete the puzzle wins the game.
2. Collaborative Puzzle: This game is played in teams where each team has a different puzzle to complete. The first team to finish their puzzle wins. Players can only use one hand each, making it more challenging and fun.
3. Mystery Puzzle: In this game, players don’t have a picture of what the finished puzzle should look like. Instead, they only have the puzzle pieces and must figure out what the puzzle should look like as they assemble it. The first person to complete the puzzle correctly wins.
4. Puzzle Relay: This game is played in teams, and each team must complete a portion of the puzzle before passing it on to the next player. The first team to complete the puzzle wins.
5. Puzzle Trading: In this game, players trade puzzle pieces with each other to complete their puzzles. The first person to complete their puzzle wins.
6. Puzzle Battle: In this game, players compete against each other by completing the same puzzle at the same time. The first person to complete their puzzle wins.
7. Puzzle Swap: This game involves players exchanging puzzle pieces with each other until one person completes their puzzle. The first person to complete their puzzle wins.
These are just a few examples of how to use a jigsaw puzzle as a tabletop game mechanism. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.
This is much a better answer than when I asked a few moth ago. and it is starting to show some creativity I think. The Puzzle Swap Trading ideas at the end I believe does not exist and it is an idea that could be develop into a game.
I have also seen people asking Midjourney to create images of boardgames and they use the result for inspiration/ get ideas.
15th May 2023 at 11:58 am
I’m really glad these tools have helped you with writing, I also struggle with writing and have found the same benefits in ChatGPT. Google recently announced they are building their AI tool into Gmail which I am very much looking forward to for help with emails.
The jigsaw puzzle query is a great example of how ChatGPT can help with brainstorming and create trigger points for new designs, I’ve also not seen number 7 used anywhere yet!