AI Game Preps Youth for Nosy Relatives at Chinese New Year

AI Game Preps Youth for Nosy Relatives at Chinese New Year

As the lunar new year approaches, millions of young Chinese are turning to a modern AI-powered game to prepare for the inevitable barrage of personal questions from relatives.

Named “Epic Showdown: New Year Reunion,” this game became a viral sensation in no time, racking up more than a million users since its debut in late January. The project, a brainchild of university students from Zhejiang province, mimics conversations with virtual family members that are intended to give users practical skills for handling family problems without conflict.

Also read: Chinese Scientists Develop AI `Child’ with `Human Emotions’

Bridging generational gaps with technology

Festivities and gatherings mark the Chinese Lunar New Year but also instill a feeling of apprehension among numerous young individuals. They anticipate inquisitive questions from relatives that probe their personal and work lives. However, “Epic Showdown: “New Year Reunion” provides a creative alternative to conventional communication by allowing users to interact with AI characters of their family members.

The game’s goal is to correctly answer the questions without offending anybody, starting with the closest relative and going on to the next, with the most formidable challenge being dialogue with the parents. This setup mimics real family gatherings, where the level of questioning is affected by the degree of the relationship.

Designed by a group of university students from Zhejiang, the game aims to strengthen family communication. Shi Hongjie, the lead developer, revealed in an interview with Red Star News that the game was designed to promote communication and understanding among families. The same sentiment is expressed by Wei Chenyang and the other players, who believe the game is a safe way for players to channel and control the frustrations that young people experience during these reunions. The game’s fame reached such a height that technical problems plagued it due to the excessive traffic, demonstrating a solid connection with its target audience.

AI in the emotional and familial realms

The rise of “Epic Showdown: “New Year Reunion” is a follow-up on the trend whereby AI technology is now used to deal with family problems. In the last few months, China has witnessed the rise of chatbots that mimic human emotions, such as marital quarrels and communication with the dead. These applications serve a dual purpose: providing a platform for emotional expression and addressing the ethical concerns associated with using AI in personal interactions.

Take, for instance, the case where AI is used to replicate conversations with the late members of the family as one of the best examples of how technology can comfort those in grief. This is depicted in the legend of Seakoo Wu. As reported by Metanews, Wu used AI to encode the memory of his son, thus representing a crossroads between the emotional bond of humans and the advancement of technology. This approach, however, faced criticism on ethical issues, hence the complexities of integrating AI into the most personal aspects of our lives.

Bridging gaps or widening them?

As technology continues to blur the lines between the virtual and the real, it begs the question: Can AI really understand our feelings and perceptions of each other, or does it further separate us from human emotion? This question illustrates a precarious and fragile balance between embracing modernization and preserving human inborn essence. What is clear, nevertheless, is the growing impact of technology on the ever-present problems of the human race by marrying the old with the new in a search for harmony and understanding.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.