In prototyping performance concepts that bridge theory between digital game design and mixed reality performance, I have stumbled across an area of game coding and of particular relevance for creating an effective network across realities and spaces, in which the performer and system hold additional levels of control and insight to the interaction. This can be understood as relevant to the area of AI from video games. For example, in my current prototype explored in this blog, the performer has monitoring networks in place that the immersant is unaware of, but allows for a knowledge of their decisions both in conversation and and physically. Location based knowledge of a player in video games is often available to NPC’s (non-player characters). This knowledge then allows the NPC to respond to the information. This type of AI is known as AI cheating in video games. The
‘In the context of artificial intelligence in video games, cheating refers to the programmer giving agents actions and access to information that would be unavailable to the player in the same situation.’ Scott, Bob (2002). “The Illusion of Intelligence”. In Rabin, Steve. AI Game Programming Wisdom. Charles River Media. pp. 16–20.
This approach of cheating AI is applicable also to the coded performer in the prototyping I have undertaken. The performer (in this case myself) is bound and structured by rules and dynamics dictated by the design of the system. This means that parameters are set by the system in which to operate, much like NPC’s in digital games. In the example of my current prototype work, information is fed to the performer relating to the immersant, in audio and visual elements, as well as a conversation tree by which the experience is structured. The video feed from the immersant’s space to the performer is not a two-way communication and as such grants the performer information on the immersant’s physical choices as well as conversational. This allows for an imbalance in power and a distinction of dominance over the immersant, in the communicative space between the physical situations they find themselves in.
Similarly, the access to the conversation tree allows the performer knowledge of what will occur next. This provides the opportunity for the performer to adapt their mindset and approach in relation to the direction of the communication back to the immersant. A knowledge of the system is why I refer to the performer in this case as a ‘coded performer’ as they operate by a typical ‘if this then that’ coding basis for the conversation tree, ans are, as established, afforded cheating through technological means. This is partially due to the design of the piece and was incidental, but could be intentionally pursued in further research as the balance between performer/immersant has been of particular interest as this research has continued.
Further to this, a subsequent entry will discuss the performer as cyborg when utilising technology and coding for decision/processing and sensory input.