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Ferretman

New Game AI Poll for June

15 posts in this topic

Hello: Okay, this one''s a little different than most polls. It was prompted by an email I received recently asking why we were "sexist" in not inviting any women to the Annual Game AI Programmer''s Dinner at GDC 2000. As I explained, we invited everybody who came to our roundtables....it just so happened that across all of our roundtables there weren''t many women! So the question this month is a simple one...why aren''t there many women in the game AI field? Weigh in with your opinion at www.gameai.com.... Ferretman
From the High Mountains of Colorado
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Can you name a field of computing where there _are_ many women?
Especially in computer games where people are really into the life of geek-dom, which is a life that, in my experience, doesn''t attract women.

Mike
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I was checking out other peoples answers and here are two user suggestions I thought were just great...

[User Suggestion] They just don''t put themselves on the credits of everything they touch, and don''t really care if anyone recognizes them 6/4/00 9:21:32 PM

[User Suggestion] Society doesn''t encourage women to enter fields like AI. They''re taught not to be interested. 6/4/00

Two people, the second lives in Victorian England and the first doesn''t even seem to live on this planet at all ;-).

Mike
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Well, I would agree with the ''doesn''t encourage'' statement actually. "Taught not to be interested" is a little strong though. A lot of it comes down to who your role models are, and if the role models aren''t there, people tend not to grow up wanting to do that job. Some might think it''s not suitable or interesting for them, but others may just never even have considered the career. Also, children tend to not want to indulge in activities that would separate them from their friends. Most have mainly same-sex friends, and therefore girls often do not want to do computing (a mainly male interest) and boys don''t want to study textiles or food or whatever. It might not be that the subject is uninteresting, just that the class is. The status quo perpetuates itself even though we don''t explicitly enforce it.
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I was never encouraged into the field of AI yet that''s what I do now. My friends, apart from those I''ve met since joining the industry and some at university, don''t tend to be programmers. It''s just my lifestyle. Sure there are people and occurences who''ve influenced it but none of them explicit.

I would agree, there are underlying patterns in the social climate that move certain people into certain jobs, partially based on their sex, but the times they are a-changing. Slowly, but surely.

Shall we meet back to continue this discussion in, say, 30 years?

Mike
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Interesting comments all....

I tend to agree with the general statement that there just aren''t many women in the industry to start with, and so there aren''t many in the narrow field of game AI. Add to that some of the other comments about how society (in America, at least) just doesn''t encourage women to be programmers, and you have the situation we''re in today.

Which is too bad, really, I think. I suspect that women would be better than most men at building good RPG AIs.

Interestingly enough, I''m scanning the poll results again right now and I see that 3 respondents have said they are women doing game AI. They didn''t leave any kind of feedback about who they are and what they''re doing, however--which personally I find a bit odd.

One comment shows just how far some parts of the industry have to go yet, though...one guy said, "Women can''t program computers to save their lives!"



Ferretman

From the High Mountains of Colorado
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Women have historically been worse off in math and science related fields. As programming is science and games are heavily dependant on math, some women probably shy away from trying. Although there are many groups that are throwing scholorships and training at teenage women in math and science area, it is probably too late at the high school level for many of them to take a strong interest. They have become too accustomed to the largely held belief that math is for men.

A case in point would be in all of my programming classes, females either did not enroll or dropped quickly due to lack of math and science skills. They also found programming as boring. Also, in my honors math classes there are usually only a small handfull of females.

It seems many are not interested, society tells some that are interested that it is not acceptable, and others find it too challenging or boring.

It sure is a shame though. More females need to get involved with these things.

Ben
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Pr0teus,

I would like to disagree (from my point of view) on what you say about women and math. I''m in my second year at university (Computer Sciences) and this and last year we''ve had about 60% math subjects and the other programming subjects.

From what I see, the female population in my year does evenly well on math subjects as the male population does. The only thing that they differ in, is that there are no real female ''programmers''. That is, they do the projects we have to do, but there are almost no girls who are interested in developing a dazzling application that will blow your head off, where as there are several guys who do.

Personally I think that we all suffer from the effects of our society in the last century where ''technical'' subjects (and computers are more technical than plain math and sciences, not?) were not meant for women and as such they tend to back away from courses like computer sciences, civil engineering and choose for more theoretical stuff like languages and medicine (where there are far less males than females in my country).

Just my 2 cents.



******************************
Stefan Baert

On the day we create intelligence and consciousness, mankind becomes God.
On the day we create intelligence and consciousness, mankind becomes obsolete...
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Mmmm...... I think i''m not "sexist", but i verified that many women are not interested on computers-technologies... they prefers to stay out from these arguments.
So, i think that if they want more space, they MUST come here their-selves, as each of our men.
Nobody invited us, no ? :-)

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There are very few people who could be considered to work full time in game AI (where "game" means "commercial computer or video game" and not something like Chess or Go). In most companies there is maybe one person at most who deals solely with AI. More likely, AI is shuttled around between different people as needed. Heck, most games don''t need very sophisticated AI as it is. "AI" = "creature behavior" in most cases.

So considering that there at most 100 people who fit the description of working full-time in game AI, how many of them are women is irrelevant.
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If you look at past polls at http://www.gameai.com you''ll find that more and more companies are having at least one dedicated AI programmer for each project. If there are any games still in production which don''t consider that AI need be sophisticated, well designed or a large part of the project then I guarentee they are heading towards failure. Good AI has always been important for gameplay and is becoming increasingly visible in modern games. Daikatana being a recent failure due, in part, to ridiculous bad AI.

Mike
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quote:
Original post by MikeD

If you look at past polls at http://www.gameai.com you''ll find that more and more companies are having at least one dedicated AI programmer for each project. If there are any games still in production which don''t consider that AI need be sophisticated, well designed or a large part of the project then I guarentee they are heading towards failure. Good AI has always been important for gameplay and is becoming increasingly visible in modern games. Daikatana being a recent failure due, in part, to ridiculous bad AI.

Mike


To compliment and confirm what MikeD is saying, my collegues (Steve Woodcock and Neil Kirby) and I have been polling attendees at the GDC AI Roundtables we have moderated for the last 5 conferences, on this very topic. There is no question, that a clear trend has emerged, such that a dedicated AI programmer is present on many more "commercial" game development projects.

And as a person who makes his living as a "Computer Game AI Consultant", I can also add, that in recent years, it is getting easier and easier to find projects for me to work on, in which an AI Specialist is desired.

Eric
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What level of experience do you need to get into AI consultation?
What does it involve?
Do you talk to AI programmers at various companies and tell them what to do or is it more of a freelance AI programming position?

Mike

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quote:
Original post by MikeD

What level of experience do you need to get into AI consultation?
What does it involve?
Do you talk to AI programmers at various companies and tell them what to do or is it more of a freelance AI programming position?

Mike




There is no "defined" level of experience, just like with any consulting position. If you have sufficient experience, skill, talent and can market yourself, as far as this client is concerned, then you get the contract. Even if you have zero AI experience, and yet you can convince the client that you can do the job, then you can usually get the contract.

As far as what is involved as an AI consultant, I typically
consult with the game designer at the start of the project, and develop an AI design compatible with the game''s design, as well as provide guidence (relative to AI capabilities) for the game''s
design, and if there is no in-house programmer to develop the AI, then I can provide AI programming services as well. In some projects, I''ve only consulted or designed. In other projects I''ve done everything related to AI. It all depends on what the client wants, needs and is willing to pay for.

Eric
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Talking of pay, I''m thinking of going to work in the States in about a year and a bit from now. What kind of pay could you expect for someone with a BSc and an MSc in AI and three years professional programming experience.

Ball park figures fine.

I just wanted to compare with Englands pay rates.

Mike
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quote:
Original post by MikeD

Talking of pay, I''m thinking of going to work in the States in about a year and a bit from now. What kind of pay could you expect for someone with a BSc and an MSc in AI and three years professional programming experience.

Ball park figures fine.

I just wanted to compare with Englands pay rates.

Mike


With respect to pay, there are no standards of pay in the USA, for AI consultants, that "one could expect" with experience such-and-such or so-and-so. You get what you contract for.

My philosophy is to ask for as much money as you can UP FRONT, and take want you can live with, to get the contract.

Good luck,

Eric
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