An artificially intelligent virtual game bot created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that it was more human-like than half the humans it competed against inside the virtual world of “Unreal Tournament 2004,” a first-person shooter video game.  [Granted, FPS gamers aren’t very humanlike to begin with, but still, quite an achievement.]

“When this ‘Turing test for game bots’ competition was started, the goal was 50 percent humanness,” said Miikkulainen. “It took us five years to get there, but that level was finally reached last week, and it’s not a fluke.”

The winning bots both achieved a humanness rating of 52 percent. Human players received an average humanness rating of only 40 percent.

The complex gameplay and 3-D environments of “Unreal Tournament 2004” require that bots mimic humans in a number of ways, including moving around in 3D space, engaging in chaotic combat against multiple opponents, and reasoning about the best strategy at any given point in the game.

Even displays of distinctively human irrational behavior can, in some cases, be emulated.  “People tend to tenaciously pursue specific opponents without regard for optimality,” said Schrum. “When humans have a grudge, they’ll chase after an enemy even when it’s not in their interests. We can mimic that behavior.”