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Running head: Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games

Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video


Abhay Zala


Panther Creek High School


In the past, great achievements in the video game industry were the result of human

craftsmanship and experimentation. However, today's society must utilize new technologies to

continue advancing in the video game industry. One of these new technologies, known as a Genetic

Algorithm (GA), already possesses incredible capabilities to simulate real life and has the potential

to expand further. These algorithms are a form of self-learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) and can

improve video game AI and the long term value of games . Using GAs to learn and optimize

methods of AI creation and production results in fewer errors, reduced production costs, and

improvements in the quality of the games that we all love to play. The next great feats of

engineering may not be done by another Edison or Franklin, but by a Genetic Algorithm.

Keywords: Genetic Algorithms, Optimization, Video Games, Artificial Intelligence

Human society has demonstrated exceptional engineering throughout the course of history.

Innovations such as virtual reality and augmented reality have greatly improved the video game
Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games

industry. Although humans are capable of creating incredible things, we are not perfect. Often

times the hardest thing for us is our ability to simulate our thoughts and actions. We can easily

change the reality can look and sound with virtual reality however even after years and years of

research, we are still unable to recreate realistic human intelligence in our games.

Our world is rapidly approaching a new age, where computers and Artificial Intelligence

(AI) are smarter and more sophisticated than humans. If Genetic Algorithms (GAs) were to be

implemented into video game AI creation, within the next 10-15 years, video game AI will be

developed faster, more realistic and more sophisticated.

GAs use the fundamental principles of evolution. Evolution is a process living creatures

have undergone since the creation of life on our planet (PBS). The most accepted theory of

evolution is through natural selection, first formulated by Charles Darwin in 1859 (Than, 2018).

Natural selection is the process where species evolve based on traits passed down from the fittest

members of species.

GAs are metaheuristic processes, based on natural selection (GeeksForGeeks, 2018), and

are a form of self-learning AI. The algorithm repeatedly modifies a population, until it reaches a

population that is most optimal or, “fit”, for a specific problem (MathWorks).

The flow of a genetic algorithm is relatively simple as seen in Figure 1. Once the algorithm

has a problem encoded, it generates a random population. With the random population, it will

evaluate the fitness of each member to solve the encoded problem. After the fitness evaluation, the

most fit are more likely to end up in a “gene pool”. The algorithm will then select random members

from the “gene pool” and merge their attributes together to form a new member. All the new

members will make up a new population and the process repeats. During the evolution stage, there

is a chance that a random member will have a mutation applied to its genes. The mutation alters
Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games

an attribute, which changes the behavior of the algorithm. Between breeding and mutations, the

algorithm will evolve its population to eventually solve the given problem in the most optimal


Figure 1. Flowchart of a genetic algorithm (Bullen & Katchabaw, 2008).

Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games

Figure 2. Optimal fitness is achieved quicker with larger populations (Turabieh & Sheta, 1999).

The number of generations required to solve the encoded problem is affected by the size

of the population. Large populations per generation provide more attributes for the “gene pool”,

and an optimal solution is found sooner (See Figure. 2).

GAs are consistent and lead to fewer errors over time. Video game development companies

would be able to continue using they GA for prolonged periods of time and would not have to

worry about faulty AI’s being created or having to create a new one for every new game. GAs also

work well on continuous problems (Electricalvoice, 2017), and in the long run, become cost

effective (Reed, Minsker, & Valocchi, 2000). GAs additionally lower labor costs by taking over

the jobs of the AI developers (Fahimnia, Luong, & Marian). GAs also optimize the process, which

leads to quicker AI production and faster innovation (Gen, & Chenge). As seen by Figure 3 below,

the longer the GA is kept in use the more cost effective it becomes.
Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games

Figure 3. The cost of the algorithm goes down over time (Abbasi, Amirkhani, Klidbary &

Eshghi, 2014).

Though GAs, in the long run, save companies more money, they have a very high initial

cost, which could potentially scare away businesses. GAs also present a critical issue for the

economy. GAs could replace thousands of video game AI developers around the world. Job loss

across a nation can cause extensive economic problems. Individuals would not be able to support

themselves or their family without a consistent salary (Nikolova, & Nikolaev, 2018). Not only are

individuals affected, but the overall economy would be hurt. High unemployment rates lead to

more payouts from governments as unemployment benefits. In January 2018, the total payout was

about $3.29 billion dollars, and if GAs are implemented, the unemployment rate could greatly

increase (Statista, 2019).

The video games we play have drastically changed in recent years. We have gone from

simple 2D games, to more complex 3D games and then even further into games that change our

reality. The next step in the path of innovation is advanced AI. Though yes, AI’s can put some

developers out of the job, but it also opens many new jobs that these AI developers can take. With

these GA’s creating our gaming AI faster, more realistically and more sophisticated, we can as
Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games

video game users, will be able to move past having to deal with annoying and useless AI’s in our

Genetic Algorithm Applications in Video Games



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