I have this project that have been running in my head for some time, and was surprised to realized I have never seen it in an existing video game. So I thought I might be wrong.

Most of current video games use basic social modeling, for example:

  • Actor1 goes from A to B, then back to 1. Repeat
  • Actors walk around limited area. When 2 Actors meet, they interact for 10s, then go back to walking
  • Actors have complex patterns, e.g. Oblivion (eat lunch under this place at 1am, except if raining, goes to this city on Sundays, etc)

My point is, it is currently mainly based on scripts. To use a graphical equivalent, it is as when physical interactions were limited/scripted, compared to current games having a detailed physics engine allowing realistic and unscripted interactions (think "Link to the Past" arrows compared to "Skyrim" arrows)

The main difference would be that there are detailed and verified models of physical behavior, gravity, etc, where as psychology/social tend to be more "fuzzy". However, there are psychological models out there, some of them widely accepted and verified, and not that difficult to implement (for example, distance between people during a social interaction, group theory, and all that). I believe that it would make a game more realistic, which is often a good point.

An example would be the "pretty rich girl / beggar" situation. In most games, either they interact as soon as they are less than 5ft from each other, and in the same way as two "equal" characters would interact (both are doing gestures while talking, they are talking about the weather, looking each other in the eyes, etc), or they are scripted not to talk to it to each other. In both cases, it would be different than what you would expect in real life.

So, (finally) the question: Are there games out there that have implemented and modeled real psychological/social models? Or even tried, and realized it was not working?


3 Answers 3


Generally, very few games use "fuzzy" AI. Most games have AI that is heavily scripted, because if it isn't scripted, the AI will do completely crazy, insane things that no human would ever actually do (see: bugs in Oblivion with "Radiant AI"). It's easier to test scripted AI than to try testing fuzzy AI that might not react in any predictable manner.

Even in something like The Sims, the AI is all heavily scripted, with objects broadcasting their locations, and in fact, being the main focus of the AI (the Sims themselves have some level of fuzzy logic AI, but it's all fairly basic). http://aigamedev.com/open/review/the-sims-ai/

That said, there's a few games that stand out for relying less on scripting and more on playing around with unscripted, "fuzzy" AI. One is the Creatures series, where creatures would interact with, and learn about, the world, and the AI was based on neural networks, instead of tons of scripting. The creature in Black and White tended to have an AI built on some basic fuzzy logic stuff, though many players were confused by the whole thing and the creature AI was simplified in the sequel.

In terms of AI in social settings, the one game I know of is Facade, where the AI has a set of script options, but chooses them based on the player input to the conversation. It's halfway between purely scripted, and fuzzy logic AI.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, I'm talking less about AI than modeling realistic social behavior: the way people in a group tend to be at the same distance from each other, the way eye contact duration varies based on sex and social position, etc. I guess my question was not clear sorry about that (the part about greedy decision making in the Sims was really interesting though) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 27, 2012 at 19:13

Check "The Sims". If there are games with social interaction implemented, I'm sure this game is among them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 I would be surprised if anyone here hasn't even heard of The Sims, given its widespread success, but reading the question it really looks like he didn't. Odd. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Feb 27, 2012 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes I do, and i'm surprised myself I didn't even think about it; I was probably too focused on the kind of games I like, common mistakes. However, I couldn't find details about what kind of model they used, or even if they used one at all, or just use the basic "everyone talk to everyone, and all dialogs look the same" \$\endgroup\$ Feb 27, 2012 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mikalichov In The Sims, dialog is purely gibberish, and interactions all play out the same, there's no real difference between characters. Part of this is a cost issue, more animations = more development time = high cost. \$\endgroup\$
    – thedaian
    Feb 27, 2012 at 20:06

Take a look at Namaste Entertainment's Storybricks project. There is a good writeup on it at http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/08/08/storybricks-opening-the-pandoras-box-of-mmo-design/

They are apparently gearing up for an alpha/beta soon.

Storybooks really lets you specify this kind of emotional and psychological information for an NPC to influence their behavior and how your actions (or those of other NPCs) change how they act.


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