Collective Artificial Intelligence for Games
MIT Media Lab
February 11, 2010
room TBD

There will be a lunch meeting for students to discuss this seminar's topic on Thursday 2/4 (i.e., the week before this seminar). Come to this lunch meeting if you want to get some background on this seminar in order to get more out of the talk.

AI in games has evolved significantly in the past decade. While our characters have proven themselves as competent soldiers on the battlefield, it would be a stretch to call them digital actors. Despite the growing interest in co-op gameplay and interactive drama, today's characters lack spontaneity, and lack the ability to improvisationally communicate and work together with human players. The issue is not simply a question of manpower or processing power, but a deep-rooted problem related to our current development approaches -- labor intensive authoring processes, requiring skilled engineers to create character behaviors from scratch. The rising popularity of online games has opened the door to a potentially better approach called Collective Artificial Intelligence -- a combination of crowd-sourcing, data mining, and case-based planning, which empowers non-experts to create socially intelligent characters without programming. In this talk, I will describe progress on a research project called The Restaurant Game (, where we have collected data from over 15,000 people playing the roles of customers and waitress online, and are using this data to automate digital actors. I will relate this new approach to my experiences in industry developing AI for games, including F.E.A.R. and No One Lives Forever 2.

Jeff Orkin is a PhD candidate in the Cognitive Machines Group at the MIT Media Lab. Jeff's research focuses on Artificial Intelligence for characters that learn to communicate and collaborate by observing humans playing online multiplayer games. Prior to enrolling at the Media Lab, Jeff developed several generations of AI systems in the game industry. As a Senior Engineer at Monolith Productions, Jeff focused on goal-oriented autonomous character behavior and planning, while developing AI systems for the award winning titles No One Lives Forever 2 and F.E.A.R. Jeff is a Contributing Author and Section Editor of the AI Game Programming Wisdom book series, has presented at the Game Developer's Conference, AIIDE, and AAMAS, and holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Washington and Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Tufts University with a minor in Studio Art.

Lunch will be served before the talk at noon.

Please email Kristina Striegnitz ( if you have any questions concerning the seminar series or if you would like to receive the seminar announcements by email.