I literally spoke with Nvidia’s AI-powered video game NPCs

/ Nvidia and Convai’s interactive CES 2024 demo convinced me: this is inevitable. By Sean Hollister , a senior editor and founding member of The Verge who covers gadgets, games, and toys. He spent 15 years editing the likes of CNET, Gizmodo, and Engadget. Nvidia’s cyberpunk ramen shop is back. Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge What if you could just… speak… to video game characters? Ask your own questions, with your own voice, instead of picking from preset phrases? Last May, Nvidia and its partner Convai showed off a fairly unconvincing canned demo of such a system — but this January, I got to try a fully interactive version for myself at CES 2024. I walked away convinced we’ll inevitably see something like this in future games. Let me be clear: the characters I spoke to were effectively generative AI chatbots. They didn’t feel like real people — we’ve got a ways to go before voices, facial expressions, and body language catch up to what’s expected of a real-life interaction. There was sometimes a little robotic stutter and often a short delay before each NPC delivered their lines. Occasionally, they misinterpreted me. But many of today’s biggest video games already set a pretty low bar for NPCs. Saddling up to the bar of a cyberpunk ramen shop to ask real questions with my real voice — it exceeds what I expect from the average denizen in The Elder Scrolls or Assassin’s Creed. Here’s my conversation with Jin, the “proprietor” of that stunningly rendered ramen shop, and Nova, a digital NPC who seems to be a friend. The conversation started just between Jin and Nova using a cheesy prompt that a rep typed in with a keyboard — but after that, I simply aimed my mouse at a […]

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