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Thanks To AI, Clementine Can Finally Remember That

By god, Embracer Group's done it!

Clementine from "The Walking Dead:" a young girl in a baseball hat, looking scared in a dark forest
Telltale Games

Embracer Group has adopted what it calls a “human-centric approach to AI in games,” as spotted by Game Developer. The policy, laid out in the company’s annual report, is all the greatest hits of the dumbest ideas about our dumbest tech craze, made by the dumbest guys you know.

First off: if anyone knows less about “human-centric” approaches to anything, it’s Embracer, the company that gobbled up a chunk of the games industry and then flushed it down the toilet, closing studios, cancelling games, and laying off employees at a breakneck pace since that Saudi money fell through. Humans have been paying the price for the company’s fuck-ups since; I sincerely doubt that the ethical concerns it professes to see with AI are the thing that’s suddenly going to make it pivot into, you know, giving a shit about people. Embracer writes that “We do not want to replace people with AI, we want to empower them,” a goal it could meet without any bullshit technology by just letting people keep their jobs, but where’s the fun in that?  

Embracer writes that “one of the major risks for a company is not to use AI, as this would mean a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis other industry players.” This is arguably true, in that as every company jumps off the AI cliff, Embracer wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to join the lemming herd. What does it see as these advantages? The usual bullshit: “scriptwriting, image creation, idea generation, quality control, and more.” 

But here’s my favorite part:

And, as models become more human-like, the interaction between players and AI-supported functions will be much more dynamic. If in a game scenario you bargain, AI can remember this the next time. That makes the whole gaming experience much more interesting and lifelike.

Groundbreaking! We’ve definitely never had a game be able to remember what you’ve done in previous situations before. How would developers ever be able to code something so complicated without the help of AI, a technology that can’t do any of the things it promises it can yet, but which can only get there if we keep Tinkerbell clapping for it despite the evidence. If we stay the course, if we keep pumping money and hype into the plagiarism machine, if companies of all kinds keep pivoting their entire models to embrace it (sorry), at some unspecified point in the future, Embracer will be able to lead the way in a technology that was a meme in 2012.  

Embracer has been at the forefront of bad decisions, innovating new horrors in both games industry consolidation and the destruction that comes from that consolidation. I’m heartened to see that it won’t be left in the dust on this either. Good luck to everyone involved!

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