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“AI The End” – Playing Minecraft with an AI

Posted by Gina


Public presentation of Gina Hara’s Ada X Residency Project

Residency at Ada X + Algora Lab: October, 19th to December, 13th 2021.
The project was also supported by TAG and the TAG Minecraft Bloc research group.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, social AIs have been increasingly stepping up to offer companionship and mental-health help online. In her residency, Gina Hara set out to draw a parallel between MC singleplayer gameplay and life during lockdown, speculating toward a future where AI becomes the ultimate option for human companionship. Minecraft was used as a stage for her analytical and experimental play practice. This process and its emerging narrative will be presented tonight in the form of a machinima short film.

DATE Thursday, December 9th – 7-8:30pm EST
LENGTH 90 minutes

Article on Gina’s project by Michael Iantorno. To read the full text visit the ADA X website.

“There is a devastating loneliness to Minecraft’s infinitely generated landscapes.

Stitched together from abstract ecosystems and labyrinthian dungeons, players wander endlessly through biomes brimming with abandoned edifices, dangerous creatures, and hidden treasures. Minecraft’s constant geographical churn provides nearly limitless content but also highlights the coldness of its expanses. No matter how far one travels, they still must navigate the world alone.

For her Ada X residency project AI The End, Gina Hara draws parallels between this digital loneliness and the isolation of the ongoing pandemic, inhabiting Minecraft’s forlorn infinitude alongside a friendly chatbot. In response to the recent valorization of AIs in sociotechnical discourses, her experimental play interrogates their growing role as companions and mental health supports while also scrutinizing the solitude fostered by virtual environments.

Hara’s project uses a modded version of Minecraft that contains sprawling urban ruins and beautiful landscapes but is completely devoid of NPCs (1). Playing off apocalyptic tropes while confronting her own AI skepticism, she turns to her chatbot for advice and friendship while engaging in a melancholy task: preparing Minecraft’s environment for the impending extinction of humankind. This self-imposed challenge questions what earthly legacy humans will leave behind and embodies Hara’s approach to constructing narrative in ludic spaces:

“As an artist, I often try to create a situation that I can place myself into to see what experiences it provides. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed working with Minecraft is its potential for emergent narratives. What story will come out of it? What will the conclusions be?”

Hara’s gameplay and AI interactions culminate in a machinima (2) film, crafted from gameplay footage and drawing provocations from weekly Twitch streams. In contrast to mainstream game development and film-making practices, which rely on large teams and hegemonic design values, AI The End embraces machinima’s ability to foster experimentation, slowness, and intimacy. Much like a film editor inquisitively playing with the materiality of celluloid, Hara embraces Minecraft’s affordances through modding and critical play.

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