Anyone who's played through a game like Microsoft's Fable II (who can forget your virtual dog?), BioWare's Mass Effect (with its robust roster of non-playable characters) or seen Sony's upcoming Heavy Rain (whose developer, Quantic Dream, promises a new type of relationship between player and character) may have wondered to themselves whether gaming, which is still in its infancy as an art form, is heading towards its inevitable Citizen Kane threshold. More than the graphics or surround sound, the latest game consoles' processing power are bringing to life AI-controlled characters unlike anything experienced before.
But what are these sentient beings that help or hinder gamers as they explore vast virtual worlds? Are the Locust Horde who hide behind blockades and orchestrate flanking attacks in Gears of War 2 the first step in some type of real-world AI nightmare like the apocalyptic future displayed in Warner Bros. Pictures' Terminator: Salvation? Will Steven Spielberg's next original game for Electronic Arts, which remains untitled, deliver on its promise of making a gamer connect with a female avatar emotionally?