AI, Narrative, and Voices

Image Source: TekRevol

Artificial intelligence is nothing new for video games. They’ve been present in games such as Mario Party, The Last of Us, and even Minecraft. AI has been used for many situations such as controlling NPC’s choices, creating different fighting scenarios, or affecting active gameplay. However, the usage of AI has started to take a completely different turn.

Back in April 2023, it was reported that a mod was being developed for the popular game Skyrim. This mod would utilize ChatGPT and xVASynth, which would allow for endless, completely new, and personalized conversations to be created for the player to have with NPCs in the game. What was once predetermined with certain dialogue could now become literally anything with this new mod’s work. To a lot of players, this seemed like a good thing. It’s a breath of fresh air for new content, makes interactions a lot more personalized, and makes the game feel new every time it’s played. But, this doesn’t mean that everyone is a fan of this.

The SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America (WGA) strikes of 2023 are a very clear indicator that AI in the entertainment industry is not something to take lightly. After all, if ChatGPT can write dialogue, a story, or a script–why hire writers? If xVASynth can just replicate voices or other AI tools can be used to duplicate human faces–why hire actors? 

These concerns don’t just affect Hollywood. Narrative designers for video games have expressed concerns about losing their jobs to AI. Voice actors have also had issues with AI. Erica Lindbeck, the voice of Futaba in Persona 5, had her voice used for a cover song on TikTok. After expressing that she doesn’t want her voice used in any AI capacity, the backlash began, and she has since left Twitter. Bev Standing had her voice used for the TTS of TikTok and filed a lawsuit, eventually settling outside of court and having her voice removed. Actors don’t want their voices being used to say things they would never condone, which is a very valid choice.

It seems people believe that the usage of something similar to the Skyrim mod or the Lindbeck and Standing cases is perfectly okay. Some believe that as long as they cast people who consent to AI usage; it’s fine. Some developers think writers can benefit from using AI by interacting with it to ensure accuracy. Others believe AI should be completely wiped from the equation altogether. To say that everyone is in agreement about AI would be an understatement.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that AI is here to stay, and people will have to work around it or with it. The question is how that will play out. Will there be regulations? Will absolutely nothing budge? Will everything just fall into the metaphorical hands of AI? Only time and careful thinking and consideration will tell.