Inside Quantum Technology’s “Inside Scoop:” Quantum and the Gaming Industry
Quantum computing and video games have a lot more in common than you might expect. Both need programs in order to run and both may also take advantage of AI algorithms for more efficient processes. While the gaming industry may not seem like a pressing target for quantum technology to hit, it is valued at over $197 billion, making it a lucrative market to enter. From faster game-play to better graphics, there are many ways that quantum computing can affect the gaming industry, and some companies are already taking advantage of this.
Quantum Computing and Battle Arenas
A common videogame setup is the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Like Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., MOBAs pit players against each other, often on teams alongside random NPCs (non-player characters). Because players can choose which NPCs to have on their team, this process can become an opportunity for quantum computers to optimize. Already the company EBET Inc. (previously Esports Technologies Inc.) is looking to use quantum computing to optimize MOBA games. According to a February 2022 press release from EBET, quantum computing can be used to “rapidly predict likely team compositions in a MOBA matchup.” Instead of having the team matchup algorithms run for minutes, with quantum computing, these algorithms would only take a few seconds. As EBET’s COO Bart Barden said in the press release “In esport team games, much of our modeling hinges on the composition of each team. The ability to cut through the computational complexity and predict likely team compositions within seconds could prove to be extremely beneficial. We believe this accelerated quantum computing method developed by our dedicated quantitative analysis and modeling team may be another breakthrough innovation…”
Creating Gaming Graphics
Besides faster and more optimized run-time, quantum computing can also help to create more realistic 3D graphics for video games. “Quantum computing will improve modeling, texturing, and rendering since it is excellent at running physical calculations and solving problems,” explained a 2022 article. Because graphics rendering often requires a database search, quantum computing can also speed up this process to make better and faster graphics. Many video games use their graphics to draw in more players, so having a more efficient graphics process could significantly help video games become more realistic or visually stunning. As IBM researcher James Wootton said in a 2020 interview: “Once game designers have the ability to draw on quantum resources, they’ll have more possibilities for creating the best game experience.”
To utilize these resources, accessible quantum software is needed for developers of all backgrounds. As there is a range of different gaming software on the market, most game developers know at least a couple of these systems. Hopefully, this process would be the same for quantum software, as developers could easily learn it, or better yet, already know the code. For Wootton, the best software platform would be Python. “You can use IBM tools to create quantum programs over Python scripts, and send the job to a real quantum computer over the cloud and process the results all using Python,” Wootton said in his interview. “This allows people to play around with whatever level of abstraction they are comfortable with, and do it using a familiar programming language.” Having a platform like Python for quantum computing allows more people to use the new technology as well as makes it easier for others to learn it.
The Current State of Quantum and the Gaming Industry
While quantum computers can already play games like Go or Battleship, the opposite relationship of having the technology develop new games is still in its early stages. Some companies, like EBET, have already seen how quantum computing can make a future difference and have made the leap. In other cases, it is the quantum computing company itself that is developing the games. IBM is just one example, as it has recently developed a “Minecraft-like” game using quantum computing, according to a New Scientist article. Though full deployment of quantum technologies for games seems to be a long while off, the potential continues to expand quantum computing’s reach into other industries, drawing in more potential users and partners.
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, the metaverse, and quantum technology.