Gaming CEO Shares Nightmare Scenario Of Using AI To Spy On Devs

At least one video game company has considered using large-language model AI to spy on its developers. The CEO of TinyBuild, which publishes Hello Neighbor 2 and Tinykin, discussed it during a recent talk at this month’s Develop:Brighton conference, explaining how ChatGPT could be used to try and monitor employees who are toxic, at risk of burning out, or simply talking about themselves too much.

“This one was quite bizarrely Black Mirror-y for me,” admitted TinyBuild boss Alex Nichiporchik, according to a new report by WhyNowGaming. It detailed ways that transcripts from Slack, Zoom, and various task managers with identifying information removed could be fed into ChatGPT to identify patterns. The AI chatbot would then apparently scan the information for warning signs that could be used to help identify “potential problematic players on the team.”

Nichiporchik took issue with how the presentation was framed by WhyNowGaming, and claimed in an email to Kotaku that he was discussing a thought experiment, and not actually describing practices the company currently employs. “This part of the presentation is hypothetical. Nobody is actively monitoring employees,” he wrote. “I spoke about a situation where we were in the middle of a critical situation in a studio where one of the leads was experiencing burnout, we were able to intervene fast and find a solution.”

While the presentation may have been aimed at the overarching concept of trying to predict employee burnout before it happens, and thus improve conditions for both developers and the projects they’re working on, Nichiporchik also appeared to have some controversial views on why types of behavior are problematic and how best for HR for flag them.

In Nichiporchik’s hypothetical, one thing ChatGPT would monitor is how often people refer to themselves using “me” or “I” in office communications. Nichiporchik referred to employees who talk too much during meetings or about themselves as “Time Vampires.” “Once that person is no longer with the company or with the team, the meeting takes 20 minutes and we get five times more done,” he suggested during his presentation according to WhyNowGaming.

Another controversial theoretical practice would be surveying employees for names of coworkers they had positive interactions with in recent months, and then flagging the names of people who are never mentioned. These three methods, Nichiporchik suggested, could help a company “identify someone who is on the verge of burning out, who might be the reason the colleagues who work with that person are burning out, and you might be able to identify it and fix it early on.”

This use of AI, theoretical or not, prompted swift backlash online. “If you have to repeatedly qualify that you know how dystopian and horrifying your employee monitoring is, you might be the fucking problem my guy,” tweeted Warner Bros. Montreal writer Mitch Dyer. “A great and horrific example of how using AI uncritically has those in power taking it at face value and internalizing its biases,” tweeted UC Santa Cruz associate professor, Mattie Brice.

Corporate interest in generative AI has spiked in recent months, leading to backlashes among creatives across many different fields from music to gaming. Hollywood writers and actors are both currently striking after negotiations with movie studios and streaming companies stalled, in part over how AI could be used to create scripts or capture actors’ likenesses and use them in perpetuity.


The Gathering Cards Stolen At Gaming Event

During Gen Con, an annual tabletop gaming convention held yearly at the Indiana Convention Center, some thieves made off with a substantial amount of Magic: The Gathering cards worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Indiana Metropolitan Police Department is now looking to speak with two persons of interest: New York City residents Thomas J. Dunbar and Andrew Pearson Giaume.

Both Dunbar and Pearson are game designers themselves, having produced Castle Assault, a board game that one of the thieves is wearing a shirt for in the surveillance footage of the theft.

Kotaku has reached out to the Indiana Metropolitan Police Department for further comment.

Though originally reported on August 2, the theft is now understood to have occurred on August 1, 2023, shortly before the event was actually open to the public. According to the Indiana police department’s’s official statement, the suspects “acquired a pallet jack, removed one pallet of gaming cards, and moved them to an unknown location.” That single pallet contained as much as $300,000 worth of cards, according to the IMPD. In a statement on Facebook, the IMPD said:

Three images show two suspects at stealing a pallet of merchandise at the Indiana Convention Center.

Image: Indiana Metropolitan Police Department / Kotaku

On Wednesday, August 2, 2023, in the downtown area of Indianapolis. The people of interest reportedly acquired a pallet jack, removed one pallet of gaming cards, and moved them to an unknown location. The alleged theft took place before the opening of events in the downtown area and while vendors were setting up their displays at various times.

On August 11, the IMPD released more surveillance pictures showing the two suspects leaving the Indiana Convention Center with a pallet full of Magic: The Gathering cards.

During the event, it was initially mistakenly believed at the time that the cards were for Disney Lorcana, which isn’t due to be released to the public until later this month yet is already being sold for substantial sums. With folks lining up for nearly 14 hours to get some time in with Lorcana at Gen Con, it certainly made for a prime target.

On August 5, as details of the theft began to hit various outlets and social media, Ravensburger, the company producing Disney Lorcana, confirmed that all of its stock of Lorcana was present and accounted for.

A few hours later, Indiana games shop Pastimes Comics & Games confirmed that the cards were indeed Magic: The Gathering. The pallet contained “mostly Commander Masters Sets and Collector Boosters,” which can retail for as much as $300 to $400 and typically contain multiple rare and legendary cards. At least we know that the pallet didn’t contain the $2M One Ring card.

Sony’s PS5 Remote Play Gaming Handheld Is Just $200

On August 23, Sony delivered some news that’s sure to get PS Vita fans mildly interested: Sony is back in the handheld game (kind of) via a dedicated remote play streaming device that’ll beam pixels from your PS5 straight to your hands. It’s called the PlayStation Portal remote player and it will cost you $200.

Back in May, Sony gave us a sneak peek at “Project Q,” an upcoming handheld device that looked like someone took a bandsaw to a DualSense controller to fuse a screen to it. Using the PS5’s Remote Play feature that lets you stream a game running on your PS5 to a smartphone or PC, the device was billed as a way to take your PS5 games with you while still using DualSense controller features, provided you had access to Wi-Fi and, of course, had your PS5, somewhere, plugged in, turned on, and connected to the internet. Today, that device has been officially unveiled via a blog update from Sony, losing its the Project Q delineation and gaining the title PlayStation Portal remote player. Less snappy.

Read More: PlayStation 5 Handheld Looks Even Goofier Than Expected In Leak

Sony states that the PlayStation Portal remote player will include the full features of the DualSense controller: adaptive triggers and the device’s signature haptic feedback. It also sports a 3.5mm audio jack (thank god), and will use an 8-inch LCD screen to beam a streamed 1080p image at 60fps into your eyes.

A PlayStation Portal shows a homme screen and Astro.

Photo: Sony

But while the device does look rather snazzy, it’s important to reiterate that, unlike products like the Nintendo Switch, or portable PCs like Valve’s Steam Deck, the PlayStation Portal remote player (PSPRP?) can’t run games locally. In order to use it you will need to be connected to the internet and so will your PS5 back home. Sony says that this requires a wireless internet connection with at least 5Mbps, but that 15Mbps is ideal.

The device will not use any local processing power to run a game aside from what’s required to transfer a streamed image. Sony gave no details about what is under the hood of the PlayStation Portal remote player.

Sony also revealed some new official PlayStation headsets along with the announcement, with a set of earbuds (named Pulse Explore) and over-ears headphones (Pulse Elite) that will retail for $200 and $150 respectively. And if you’re planning to use your PlayStation Portal remote player wirelessly, you will need these as notably, Sony’s upcoming handheld will not use Bluetooth, instead favoring the company’s own wireless audio technology.

The PlayStation Portal remote player launches on November 15, 2023.

Update 9/1/2023 at 9:30 a.m. ET: Added the launch date of the PlayStation Portal.

Update 8/23/2023 at 11:00 a.m. ET: Added a detail to indicate that the PlayStation Portal remote player will not support audio over Bluetooth.

Starfield Fan Banned From Massive Gaming Reddit For Snitching

Starfield leaks began blowing up across the internet last week after 29-year old Darin Harris allegedly stole dozens of copies of the game from a warehouse and started selling them online. One Reddit user immediately reported the leaks to Bethesda and Memphis police, and he’s now been banned from the r/GamingLeaksAndRumours subreddit after posting about it.

I know this because the commenter in question, Jasper Adkins, emailed Kotaku to inform us it had happened. “It seems to me that the subreddit is running on ‘bread and circuses’ mode mixed with bystander syndrome,” he wrote in his initial email. “They’re perfectly willing to ignore a crime that hurts a developer they claim to support, in exchange for a few minutes of shaky gameplay filmed from a phone.”

r/GamingLeaksAndRumours, one of the biggest hotspots for insider gaming info and speculation on the internet, has indeed been in rare form lately. After Harris uploaded the first 40 minutes of his playthrough and it began to make the rounds on the subreddit, it was like a dam broke. One of the most anticipated open-world sci-fi RPGs of the year, and possibly the decade, was finally getting into people’s hands ahead of schedule.

Commenters on the subreddit picked apart every new screenshot and piece of footage for new information. One of the most popular leak posts recently? Evidence that you can grab ledges, a first for a Bethesda RPG. Despite the criminal charges against him, Harris has become something of a folk hero within the community of fans hungry for Starfield leaks. As The Commercial Appeal reported, memes hail him as “Lord Tyrone” (his middle name) and one player even vowed to name their Starfield ship “Memphian” in his honor.

Adkins hasn’t been part of the ongoing bonanza though. He was banned from r/GamingLeaksAndRumours on August 24 shortly after posting about how he tried to help get Harris arrested. “An officer at the station told me so himself when I called him about it,” he wrote in the middle of a long comment thread. Adkins soon received a notification that he had violated the subreddit’s rules.

He protested, but the r/GamingLeaksAndRumours admins weren’t having it. “Just not interested in having someone here who takes action against the community like that,” they wrote back.

I reached out to one of the subreddit’s admins to confirm what had happened and the thinking behind the ban. “If he just did it I wouldn’t think badly of him but to come on the sub and brag about calling the cops on the dude just rubbed me the wrong way,” one of them told Kotaku in a DM. “Might unban him at some point but for now he’s behind the bars of the internet.”

“I am now a pariah of that subreddit,” Adkins wrote in his initial email. “I get it, hype and excitement are at an all-time high. I’m just as excited as the next person, but I draw the line at theft. I was raised to believe that crime doesn’t pay. I had hoped our society, and so-called Bethesda fans could be held to a higher standard. It seems that is sadly not the case.”

Adkins showed Kotaku screenshots of his communications with the Memphis PD and Bethesda to demonstrate that he did in fact reach out with links to video footage of Harris’ Starfield leak and tips that the copies of the game may have been stolen. “Hey, you got him!” Adkins wrote to the police officer at one point. “That was fast. I just saw that on Reddit (r/gamingleaksandrumours).”

It’s not clear whether or not Adkins’ actions ultimately contributed to Harris’ arrest. According to an affidavit filed in Shelby County, it was the Vantiva warehouse who first told the MPD about the alleged theft. “I feel like my information helped connect the two faster than it would have been,” Adkins told Kotaku. He said he still lurks on r/GamingLeaksAndRumours and remains excited for Starfield’s release.

“No doubt the community will vilify me, while criminals are elevated to meme and legend status,” he wrote. “It’s no wonder why people are losing faith in humanity.”

Apple Wants Its New iPhone To Be Your Next Gaming Device

An iPhone shows Resident Evil 4 on screen.

Screenshot: Apple / Capcom / Kotaku

On September 12, Apple held an event showing off its entire line of iPhone 15 devices, including the iPhone 15 Pro, which features a USB-C port (thanks, Europe) and the ability to run modern AAA games like Death Stranding and the remake of Resident Evil 4. Apple predictably touted the news as the “next generation of mobile gaming” and while that remains to be seen, seeing such technically demanding games running on such a small device is undeniably impressive.

Apple’s latest iPhone Pro will hit stores on September 22. And Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4, and Death Stranding are expected to arrive on the device later this year. Surprisingly, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, the next entry in the long-running stabby-stab-stab series, will also land on the iPhone, just a little later than its October 5 release on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. For now, it seems these games only run on the Pro and Pro Max versions of the iPhone 15. It’s an impressive feat, particularly in the case of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, which is a brand new, fully fledged AAA title. During its event, Apple explained a bit about its new chip and how it expects modern games to run on the handheld device.

According to Apple, the Pro’s new A16 Bionic chip sports a five-core GPU that sees a 50% improvement in memory bandwidth, as well as a six-core CPU, which Apple touted as using 20% less power than the previous phone’s processor.

Apple / The Verge

And believe it or not, Apple also touted the ability for its devices to feature “hardware-accelerated ray tracing,” a cutting-edge lighting technique that usually requires pretty demanding hardware such a high-powered gaming PC to pull off reliably. Yeah, you can read that a second time if you need to. Much like the games themselves, we’ll be eager to see just how well this feature actually performs on the device. It’s easy to be skeptical about all of this, and many on X (formerly Twitter) are raising concerns about things like just how long the device’s battery will last while running these demanding games.

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will start at $999 and $1199 respectively. You can also give Apple 70 bucks for a damn USB-C cable if you’re so inclined.

Buy the iPhone 15 Pro: Best Buy
Buy the iPhone 15 Pro Max: Best Buy

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Looks Blog by Crimson Themes.