This Chinese MMO uses ChatGPT to let you ruin NPC marriages

Justice Online
(Image credit: NetEase)

AI language-generation tool ChatGPT is already coming to video games in order to create more believable NPCs - which means, naturally, that you can ruin their marriages.

NetEase, the Chinese mega-publisher behind many of the country's most popular online games, has announced plans to add ChatGPT to an MMO called Justice Online. It seems this isn't just a theoretical idea, either - a demonstration video shows ChatGPT-powered NPCs complete with voice acting and emotional responses to your actions.

You won't get much out of that video if you don't speak Chinese, but tech site Pandaily has a breakdown of what's happening. In one clip, a player walks up to an NPC couple and tries to interfere with their marriage. They're not having it - until the player swaps to a female character and tries, successfully this time, to cause some animosity. In another clip, a player talks to two women discussing long-distance relationships, and convinces one of them that it's a bad idea to have a distant partner. Two in-game months later, that NPC reveals that she's broken off the relationship.

I'm not entirely sure why the demo video is so focused on breaking couples up, but it's an effective demonstration of what the system can do. These AI algorithms can have gameplay effects, too. The examples here include forcing an NPC to rush home by telling them their house is on fire, or getting a protective ally by giving them supplies while they're lost in a desert.

There are some exciting possibilities, though the continued ethical and labor questions around AI content generation remain. What does this mean for the writers and voice actors who would previously be bringing these characters to life? Will these characters' lack of humanity become obvious after lengthy playtimes? Those are questions we're going to have to wait and see the answer to.

Justice Online is currently only available in China. A worldwide version was announced for release in 2022, though obviously that window has come and gone without the game launching. However, Nvidia has recently promoted the game's use of its DLSS technology (which is also essentially AI-based, coincidentally) on its English-language channels.

This is pure speculation, but I'd expect English-language ChatGPT NPCs to be delayed from the launch of a worldwide version of Justice Online. Localization is difficult enough when it's just text and voices - it's gotta be a whole 'nother load of work to translate AI-based dialog simulations.

ChatGPT doesn't like infidelity when it comes to Pokemon, at least.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.