Xbox boss dreams of replacing humans with AI to test video games

Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, has expressed his desire to see artificial intelligences used in quality testing of video games.

You are probably aware that video games are constantly tested during their development. A quality unit, internal or external, is dedicated to this rather thankless task, throughout the production cycle. Several dozen people are then responsible for chasing bugs and malfunctions, in order to help the designers to rectify the situation before the launch. This objective is ensured by humans. Will they one day be replaced by robots?

This is obviously the dream fed by Matt Booty. The man who is at the head of Xbox Game Studios recently confided that using artificial intelligence to test games would be revolutionary. “ Some processes we have are no longer in sync with our speed at creating content. Testing is part of it “, he says in remarks reported by Video Games Chronicles on September 5.

A robot that tests a null game // Source: Engineered Arts

AI to hunt bugs in video games

I would love to launch a video game in the cloud 10,000 times and deploy an artificial intelligence that would test it all night in order to have a report in the morning “says Matt Booty. On paper, he is absolutely right: a robot is able to repeat efforts without ever complaining, getting tired or undergoing psychological pressure. Testing a game entails repetition of tasks which can prove to be exhausting in the long run, so the idea would be to entrust hard work to a machine which will not notice it.

There are still several biases to Matt Booty’s fantasy. The first is in the sensitivity of the tester. A bot would certainly be able to target any technical bugs that can be considered common. But what about abnormal situations that only a curious human could see? Obviously, it will always take humans to see what even an ultra-efficient AI will not know.

We should not hide the economic data implied in the words of Matt Booty either. Beyond the productive aspect, using robots rather than humans would lower production costs. On this subject, there is a form of awkwardness in what the Microsoft pundit says when one is interested in the working conditions of the QA departments of several large companies. This is revealed, for example, by a paper by Kotaku, published in 2021 and centered on Activision Blizzard. The article begins with the following trifecta: Long hours. Low wages. Huge instability “. The media has revealed other unenviable behind the scenes, whether recently at Bethesda (in 2022) or at Paradox (in 2020).

In recent months, awareness has nevertheless led to positive outcomes for some testers, who were able to create a union in the United States (a first for a large studio) or be hired full-time. All this to be replaced by an AI in the near future?

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