Spiffing Reads: Westworld, Emotional AI and Self-Destructing Games

This week on Spiffing Reads, we look into a spooky AI future – and a forgotten past of suicidal game disks.


The Video Game Horror Of Westworld (Kotaku UK)

The new HBO version of Westworld looks rather excellent. I was a big fan of the original film, and it seems like they’ve done a great job of expanding on the original concept – i.e. murderous robots with feelings. As this article points out, the series’ do-anything-you-like western theme park isn’t a million miles away from most video games – but what if the virtual characters you’re gunning down could think and feel? Which brings me on to…


Video games where people matter? The strange future of emotional AI (The Guardian)

Several groups have been working on AI that responds emotionally – or at least a simulation of emotion. This excellent long read gives a taste of where we’ve been and where we’re going. What if all those civilians in GTA games had hopes, dreams and expressed genuine terror? Or, more scarily…


Is our world a simulation? Why some scientists say it’s more likely than not (The Guardian)

…what if we actually are those video game citizens, but we just don’t know it? The idea that our universe is a huge simulation has been proposed numerous times before, but it’s unlikely to go away any time soon. For one thing, like the existence of god, it’s basically impossible to prove that it’s NOT true, even if it seems unlikely. More to the point, it would explain why all the physical laws in our universe slot together so nicely.


The self-destructing game of 1986 (Polygon)

I found this utterly fascinating. Back in the eighties, someone wrote a game that gave you just one shot at finishing it – if you failed, the game essentially committed digital suicide, and wouldn’t let you play it ever again. It’s a fascinating concept, and I’m surprised no one has tried it again, especially in the current age of the indie renaissance. Suddenly, Dark Souls looks positively benign.

Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.