AI is the future - Maguire

Graphics no longer a big deal

The videogames industry is no longer focused on improving graphics, according to Sony Computer Entertainment UK boss Ray Maguire, with attention now turning to artificial intelligence to make games more compelling.

Speaking at the BAFTA headquarters in London, at an event designed to underline the British Academy's new commitment to the videogame medium, Maguire said that the power of the central processors in the next-generation consoles meant that graphics were no longer top priority for developers.

"We are no longer interested in graphics per se, because graphics chips can do that for us," he commented, "but the central processors of all the new games machines are about making games more compelling by adding in artificial intelligence."

"The Cell chip is so powerful it can do 256 million calculations per second... That means one thing for us in the videogames industry: artificial intelligence."

Maguire told the audience that since he started working in the videogames industry in 1991, the focus had been strongly on improving graphics - but that graphics have now reached a point where they are so good that developers must look elsewhere for the next big step forward.

As an example, he asked the audience at BAFTA to consider the game character of Lara Croft and her movie counterpart, played by Angelina Jolie - arguing that the most important difference between the two is not visual, but lies instead in the fact that Jolie has a brain and human emotions.

He showed off a proof of concept video showing a rendered female character auditioning for a movie role, and talking through her relationship with her husband from meeting him, through to her decision to murder him after discovering that he was having an affair. Maguire highlighted the gamut of emotions which went through the character, claiming that this kind of emotional impact will be possible in game characters on next-gen systems.

"We're not talking about graphics any more," Maguire concluded. "We're talking about performance and we're talking about art."

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