Sony Patents Video Game AI “Auto-Play Mode”

If you find playing video games on easy mode too difficult, Sony’s about to lend you another helping hand. According to CoinMarketCap, Sony has applied for a patent called “Method and System for Auto-Playing Portions of a Video Game,” which is a feature where AI will play parts of the game for the player. The idea is to allow gamers to use AI  to get past parts of a game with “a higher abundance of tedium and repetition” in what is called “automatic mode” or “auto-play mode.” The AI would study a player’s gameplay methodology as he plays and mimic it, playing these sections of a game as if it were the individual player. Supposedly, this is to address a common complaint about “repetitive tasks” such as “grinding for levels or resources.”

Thank God; my least favorite part of playing video games is playing video games, and I’ve always wanted my own personal Skynet to play for me while I like social media posts on my phone. Who the hell would want this feature, besides games journalists who hate video games almost as much as the people who play them? What sense of accomplishment would you have if you let a program play the game for you? And more importantly, how much fun is that? I understand the complaint about tedium because I’ve experienced it, too. For example, I’m currently playing the God of War Ragnarök DLC, Valhalla, and it’s a boring, repetitive slog, the popularity of which I find incomprehensible. (I saw some people online say they actually prefer Valhalla to the base game, and I think they need to have their heads examined.) Despite this, I wouldn’t want to turn on an AI program and have it play Valhalla for me; if I don’t eventually beat it on my own, what’s the point of playing it? And what are the limits of this? Is Sony going to make auto-play mode available only for sections of games it deems worthy of delegating to AI, or will gamers be given the option of, say, beating bosses like this?

The solution to complaints about tedium in a game is to design better games. When gamers dislike part of your game for that reason, listen to them and do better next time. But developers don’t want to do that, as we saw when the people behind the Sony Spider-Man games put more Mary Jane levels in Spider-Man 2 after gamers said they sucked in the first one (and they did). This is a half-assed compromise so the obnoxious devs can do the boring stuff nobody but them likes, and the gamers can skip over it, sacrificing the satisfaction of beating the entire game in the process. And given some of the stupid sequences games have nowadays, I kind of get the allure of letting a computer program take over. Aside from the aforementioned Mary Jane girl power interludes (which aren’t helped by having to listen to her talk about how terrible Peter Parker is), there’s that atrocious God of War Ragnarök level where you play as Atreus and ride around on a water buffalo for what feels like hours. These are both games I love, but parts of them make you want to rip the disc in half or at least wonder what the hell the developers were thinking. But just the same, I wouldn’t want to leave them to AI; it doesn’t feel right.

I don’t know; maybe I’m an old man yelling at clouds. (How old? Never you mind.) And CoinMarketCap points out that some MMORPGs have a feature similar to this already; I don’t play those, so I wouldn’t know. But I feel auto-play mode would ruin the gaming experience, even if it means you have to put up with the boring parts of a game.

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