Proponents of modern AI tech—and this is our weekly reminder that it’s not actually artificial intelligence at all—have big plans for video games. Ubisoft is dabbling, Square Enix is dabbling, but those are just testbeds: for a more comprehensive look at what AI supporters want to see in their video games, you should check out this trailer for a ChatGPT mod for Skyrim.
This video by a user called Art from the Machine shows “a Skyrim mod which allows for conversations with NPCs via ChatGPT, xVASynth (text-to-speech), and Whisper (speech-to-text). This update introduces Skyrim scripting, which allows for lip syncing of voices and NPC awareness of in-game events.”
That’s the aim, anyway. Here’s what all that looks and sounds like in practice:
It’s a horror show, I know. Particular highlights are the way the video has to be sped up to mask the amount of time it takes the game to respond to questions, the terrible synthesised voice acting and the bland, generic standard of all the “writing”. Oh, and the fact the people running Skyrim’s stores—in a world without watches—will now tell you their opening hours like they were getting a phone call in a mall. Sorry, sir, we close at five pum.
I spent ages writing earlier drafts of this blog where I took this opportunity to launch into a tirade against the idea that machine learning can or should replace human artists, but you know what? This is a Skyrim mod. If this is what a lot of people still playing this game want—and clearly it is, even though what they actually want is to play a tabletop RPG with friends—then have at it. If you’re happy with word soup dialogue written by a machine that was trained on stuff that was already pretty generic in the first place, no amount of me saying “we need to value human art as the only true human experience” will convince you that if this is the future of video games that you want, you’re going to get everything you deserve.