A Turing Test for FPS Gamers?

16th May 2004

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Is it possible for players to know if their opponents are human? Could a test be devised to measure a player’s humaness?

When I first started playing FPS games I thought I was doing quite good in getting to just over half way on Unreal Tournament’s difficulty level. So I decided to try playing on God mode, obviously the hardest!. Dumb struck would be a good description of my feelings at the time. How could anybody play against bots that were that good? Impossible, I thought.

I later found this thread on BeyondUnreal where Lily had recorded herself, yes it was a female, playing in God mode and beating the bots, quite easily, in fact.
The aim of the videos was to help those less-able players to learn how to beat the bots. It became clear after watching some of these videos that whilst the bots were fast and accurate, they were also predictable.
So, why do players prefer to play against other humans? Is it simply to compete with an equal? I wonder, if the AI of the games were radically improved, whether players would still prefer to play against humans. I think they would. Nobody likes to be beaten by a machine and I accept that game AI is a huge subject and can’t be fully discussed within the confines of a forum but how would you really know you are playing against another human?
What criteria would you set? Let’s assume that the physical characteristics of movement and information gathering are the same. Meaning the opponent can’t significantly make the game character do anything the human couldn’t do and they only know what a human would know I.E. they can’t see through walls. Also there could be no communication between the players; taunts etc. I also suppose a lot would depend on the gametypes and whether they were part of a team. For example, imagine you are playing a gametype where you only have one life, if you or your opponent die then it’s game over, a completely different approach would need to be taken compared to a regular deathmatch game.
Would it simply come down to predictability? Have any studies been made of this? Could we build a Turing Test for gamers?

For more information on the Turing test visit:

This idea has been post on the IGDA Forums


  1. GanjaStar

    Quite an interesting and overwhelming topic. For anyone wishing to delve into the A.I-Human paradox is best advised to see the movie Blade Runner. Watch it a couple of times or even read Phillip K. Dick’s book “Do robots dream of electronic Sheep”, on which the movie is based. I think that for games, we will still have to wait a decade before we manage to smudge the line between real and artificial, but I feel much will change with the arrival of such technology.

    As for me, the most realistic single player enemies would be the Skaarj from the Original Unreal. Sure the bots from UT were better, but Unreal set the standard and was the first game where you had to sweat in a one vs. one battle. I remember the first Skaarj encounter. The Skaarj took an elevator down to reach me. I fired a couple of plasma pistol shots which he easily avoided by strafing and at the same time he fired two accurate fireballs that smashed my face. I got disoriented and started firing in panic and the next thing I knew I was pierced by its sharp claws and died. Now that’s pretty real.

  2. A pedant

    …even read Phillip K. Dick’s book “Do robots dream of electronic Sheep”

    Actually, its “androids’, not robots.

    “I got disoriented and started firing in panic and the next thing I knew I was pierced by its sharp claws and died. Now that’s pretty real.”

    Pretty real? Are you an Ice Age survivor, or something?

  3. Ah yes, I remember doing something like this.
    I play a lot of HL2DM and my favourite weapon by far is the crowbar. In melee duels, I tend to beat the enemy a lot more than they beat me (even in unfair circumstances, assuming someone does not intervene). However, I do recall one time on one server that, no matter what I did, I would always lose if I went at them with melee. Obviously this hurt my pride quite a lot. But I realized, after a while, that they were bots. They basically walked straight towards you, continuously swinging their crowbar. Of course, they had aimbots built in, which meant that dodging would have obviously done no good. As soon as I realized this, it was a lot easier to beat them. For instance, I would plant tripmines right in their path and laugh as they walked straight into them.
    Long story short: bots are great when it comes to the simple things (aiming, shooting) but fall down on anything more complicated than that. The challenge with coding good bots is not to make them hard to beat, but to limit them in some circumstances but make them excel at tactics, which is normally where humans shine.

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