Students Staff

17 November 2008

Computer games: matters of intelligence

Colchester Campus

The University has hosted a workshop for some of the UK’s leading experts in artificial intelligence and games technology.

The workshop, at the University’s Colchester Campus, looked at the use of artificial intelligence in computer games today. Dr Simon Lucas, from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, explains: ‘We have become used to seeing major advances in graphic detail in computer games over recent years, but the “intelligence” within these games needs to catch up to match the progress. This is one area where artificial intelligence comes in.

‘Game players now need to be able to interact with the virtual world of a game more naturally and expect the game environment and virtual characters to behave as realistically as they are depicted. This means the full power of ordinary language and the ability for the game to “improvise” narrative content that unwinds in an unpredictable and open-ended way. It also requires non-player characters, on their own, to interact with their virtual environments and game players in convincing ways. This requires the most advanced developments in artificial intelligence research. The workshop discussed these and other exciting topics.’

The workshop was organised by Dr Lucas and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the AI and Games Research Network. The University has a long history of leading research in artificial intelligence and computer games technology. Dr. Lucas is the founding editor-in-chief of the major international journal, IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games. Essex also boasts the experience of Dr Richard Bartle, who created the first multi-player computer games 20 years ago and is one of the pioneers of the massively multiplayer online game industry.

Creating computer games requires formidable technical skills, thus the need for graduates with first-rate abilities in software development is growing at an incredible rate. Pricewaterhouse Cooper predicts that global video game revenues will grow from US$42 billion to US$68 billion over the next three years. The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering also offers BSc Computer Games Technology, designed by Drs Lucas and Bartle, to help to meet these needs.

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For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on telephone: 01206 872807 or e-mail:

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