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    At China’s Biggest Gaming Expo, AI Takes Center Stage

    At ChinaJoy, one of the world’s biggest digital entertainment expos, over 300 domestic and international gaming developers presented new products to the public.
    Jul 28, 2023#gaming

    From revolutionizing game development processes to elevating player experiences, experts believe AI is now rapidly reshaping the global interactive entertainment landscape. 

    As the 20th ChinaJoy expo kicked off in Shanghai Thursday, several executives highlighted the integration of AI in their products. As one of the world’s largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibitions, the expo brings together gaming enthusiasts, developers, and industry experts to discuss emerging technologies and innovation in the sector.

    Among the innovative displays at the expo, Meshy, a small team of 3D artists, designers, and developers from across the world, impressed with a 3D AIGC tool that generates models from a text input within two minutes, while Shengqu Games’ “AI Galaxy” presented an interactive game offering personalized social communication rehabilitation for autistic children. 

    “Today, catalyzed by artificial intelligence, the entire gaming industry is undergoing a major technological revolution, a significant leap in gaming experiences, and a large migration of talent,” said Wang Yi, vice president of NetEase, at the expo’s China Digital Entertainment Congress held Thursday.  

    He added that technology is the foundation of the gaming industry, and the key aspects worth special attention are game engines and AI. 

    Several executives at the conference agreed that AI technology has improved the quality of digital games and also increased the efficiency of the gaming production. 

    “Intelligent NPCs (non-playable characters) have enhanced the gaming experience. AI has also optimized various aspects such as game design, audio, art, and programming, reducing development cycles and lowering costs,” said Lu Xiaoyin, CEO of Perfect World, at the conference. 

    Lu stated that it previously took Perfect World, one of China’s top gaming companies, around one year to produce just 10% of the content for some gaming projects. But by using AI-powered technology, it may only take about two months to produce 50% of the content. 

    During the conference, industry leaders also tackled a pressing concern surrounding AI technology: the potential replacement of humans in the gaming and digital entertainment industry. Many agreed at the conference, however, that humans’ creativity and emotions will not be replaced. 

    Addressing the concern, Zhang Junbo, president and CEO of Unity China, pointed out that innovation is the core competitive advantage of games. He said AI cannot make innovative games directly, but it does allow game designers more time to create content by lowering the time and cost of production. 

    Speaking to Sixth Tone, a representative from 37 Interactive Entertainment said the company has incorporated AI into several aspects of its production line, including designing and marketing. 

    “AIGC has a significant impact on improving the overall efficiency of games, especially in terms of industrial pipeline processes, as it indeed provides strong enhancements in tool and asset creation,” the representative said. “However, we also acknowledge that it still comes down to human creativity and expertise a lot of the time, when the combination of human ingenuity and tools can lead to even greater improvements.”

    Shengqu Games stood out at the expo with its interactive game specifically designed to offer personalized and intelligent training programs in social communication rehabilitation for autistic children. 

    The game utilizes intelligent language models and virtual reality, enabling children to engage in conversations with a teacher in virtual reality and freely ask questions.

    “Behind it is an AI algorithm based on a large language model. Combined with specialized skills in social communication and expertise related to children with conditions like autism, it can provide rehabilitation training for children’s social and language communication abilities, comprehension, and expression,” said Dr. Fu, a neuroscience expert who helped develop the game. 

    According to data released at the expo, China’s gamer base surged to 668 million in June, marking a modest increase of 0.35% compared to the previous year. However, despite the increase, the actual sales revenue of the domestic gaming industry in the same period has declined, reaching 144.26 billion yuan ($20.1 million), a decrease of 2.39% from the previous year’s figures.

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: Cosplayers at the 20th ChinaJoy in Shanghai, July 28, 2023. VCG)