Give an image to Genie and Google's AI can make a 2D platformer out of it, right there and then

The Genie is out of the bottle for gaming, with GoogleDeepMind's AI model now capable of taking an image and turning it into a platform game.

2 minutes & 5 seconds read time

GoogleDeepMind has an 'open endedness team' and we've just found out what they've been up to in recent times - namely facilitating AI to generate 2D platformer worlds based on simple image prompts.

You can see how it works in the above tweet from the team lead at GoogleDeepMind, who is Tim Rocktaschel (also a professor of AI at UCL).

This is Genie, a 'foundation world model' (with 11 billion parameters) trained on internet videos. Give Genie ('Generative Interactive Environments') an image of any kind of world and it can knock up a 2D environment you can then run around in platformer-style.

Rocktaschel explains that rather than adding inductive biases, the focus is on scale, and a vast scale at that - with a dataset of over 200,000 hours of videos from 2D platform games that was used to train the world model. Adding that:

"In an unsupervised way, Genie learns diverse latent actions that control characters in a consistent manner."

You can use photos, sketches, whatever you like (or even describe the world in text) to provide Genie with the needed setting for your 2D world.

Genie can then cook up that virtual world and allow you to take appropriate actions within it (running, jumping, maybe surfing if it's an ocean scene), and it learns how to do all this not from your input, but just by watching lots of videos (read: the bottomless pit of YouTube content out there).

Sora plus Genie equals lots of slackened jaws

This is a pretty mind-blowing breakthrough and not the first one we've seen in the world of AI this month. Earlier in February, we witnessed OpenAI ushering in Sora, which takes the image creation chops of AI one step further - enabling the generation of videos. Jaw-dropping technology indeed, as is the ability to realize a 2D platformer in the (relative) blink of an eye.

All of this could be another glimpse of the future of video games development, or at least, part of the creative processes involved anyway - because make no mistake, AI will be deeply involved in that (and other creative tasks) in the future.

Which is, of course, a point of controversy for human programmers, artists, quest designers and writers, and so on, whose future may be at stake here. They aren't the only profession under threat from AI, either, with the development of the tech seemingly progressing at such a rapid pace right now.

The Genie is very much out of the bottle now, not just for gaming, but the wider world. It'll certainly be interesting to see what the next major development is, and you get the feeling that there'll be a few massive leaps taken pushing forward with AI in 2024.

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Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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