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Microsoft Copilot will watch you play Minecraft, tell you what you’re doing wrong

Minecraft commentary like “Oh no, it’s a zombie. Run!””/>
Enlarge / In the recent past, you’d have to rely on your kid sibling to deliver Minecraft commentary like “Oh no, it’s a zombie. Run!”

Longtime gamers (and/or Game Grumps fans) likely know that even single-player games can be a lot more fun with a friend hanging out nearby to offer advice, shoot the breeze, or just offer earnest reactions to whatever’s happening on screen. Now, Microsoft is promising that its GhatGPT-4o-powered Copilot system will soon offer an imitation of that pro-social experience even for Minecraft players who don’t have any human friends available to watch them play.

In a pair of social media posts Monday, Microsoft highlighted how “real-time conversations with your AI companion copilot” can enhance an otherwise solitary Minecraft experience. In the first demo, the disembodied copilot voice tells the player how to craft a sword, walking him through the process of gathering some wood or stone to go with the sticks sitting in his inventory. In another, the AI identifies a zombie in front of the player and gives the (seemingly obvious) advice to run away from the threat and “make sure it can’t reach you” by digging underground or building a tower of blocks.

Real time conversations with your AI companion Copilot, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4o.

— Microsoft Copilot (@MSFTCopilot) May 20, 2024

These kinds of in-game pointers aren’t the most revolutionary use of conversational AI—even a basic in-game tutorial/reference system or online walkthrough could deliver the same basic information, after all. Still, the demonstration stands out for just how that information is delivered to the player through a natural language conversation that doesn’t require pausing the gameplay even briefly.

The key moment highlighting this difference is near the end of one of the video demos, when the Copilot AI offers a bit of encouragement to the player: “Whew, that was a close one. Great job finding shelter!” That’s the point when the system transitions from a fancy voice-controlled strategy guide to an ersatz version of the kind of spectator that might be sitting on your couch or watching your Twitch stream. It creates the real possibility of developing a parasocial relationship with the Copilot guide that is not really a risk when consulting a text file on GameFAQs, for instance (though I think the Copilot reactions will have to get a bit less inane to really feel like a valued partner-in-gaming).


Just hanging out with my AI buddy

It’s unclear from the video clips whether Copilot is reading data directly from the Minecraft instance or simply reacting to the same information the player is seeing. But the social media posts came the same day as Microsoft’s announcement of “Recall,” a coming feature that “take[s] images of your active screen every few seconds” to provide a persistent “memory” of everything you do on the computer. That feature will be exclusive to Copilot+ PCs, which use an integrated Neural Processing Unit for on-device processing of many common generative AI tasks.
Microsoft’s Minecraft copilot demo brings to mind some of the similar conversations that OpenAI showed off during last week’s live demo of ChatGPT-4o. But the artificial game-adjacent conversation here sounds significantly more robotic and direct than the lifelike, emotional responses in ChatGPT’s presentation. Then again, ChatGPT has come under fire from actress Scarlett Johansson for using a voice that sounds too much like her performance in a 2013 movie about a conversational AI. Microsoft might be on safer ground sticking with a voice that is more obviously artificial here.

The casual cursing is what really makes an AI gaming buddy feel real.

Speaking of Her, we can’t help but think of one particular scene in that movie where Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore asks for gaming advice both from the titular AI and a hilariously potty-mouthed NPC. Maybe Microsoft can add a casual cursing module to its Copilot gaming companion to really capture the feeling of hanging out with a dorm room buddy over a late-night gaming session.

Originally Appeared Here

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