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Software²: A.I. Designs A Video Game

An AI named Angelina creates a Super Mario Bros side-scroller.
March 9, 2012, 4:28pm

Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be in the news a lot lately, whether it’s a fictional version extolling the latest developments in motion capture or real life cooperative drones unnerving us all. And now, after being able to perform a rudimentary version of the James Bond theme, AI can add another string to its mechanical bows—and that’s designing video games.

The game is called Space Station Invaders and it’s by an AI named Angelina, the computer-child of PhD student Michael Cook, based at Imperial College’s Computational Creativity Group. He has set himself the task of designing an AI system that can “intelligently design videogames, as part of an investigation into the ways in which software can design creatively.” So it’s a case of software designing itself, and although the game’s level of complexity isn’t exactly going to give Rockstar Games a run for their money, it’s still impressive that Angelina’s designed the entire thing nearly from scratch.

According to New Scientist, for whom Angelina created Space Station Invaders, the technique used is called cooperative co-evolution, where “the system separately designs different aspects, or species, of the game.” It then combines these while also simulating a human being playing the game so it can work out which elements create the most enjoyable or entertaining results. Cook then adds in the graphics and sound effects to complete it. He tells New Scientist, “In theory, there is nothing to stop an artist sitting down with Angelina, creating a game every 12 hours and feeding that into the Apple App Store.” Sounds like a money spinner.

The game is based around a scientist on a space station where all manner of problems have arisen, like killer robots, alien invasion, and a deadly virus that has escaped. Wishful thinking from Angelina? Is she hinting at her desire for the destruction of mankind? We’ll jast have to wait and see if she goes Skynet on us. While we do, you can play Space Station Invaders at the New Scientist website.