According to High Score, the official high score for the Atari 2600 version of Ms Pac-Man belongs to player oyamafamily, with 266,360 points. Or at least it did, before an artificial intelligence developed by Microsoft achieved the maximum possible score for the game, 999,990.
Playing the Atari 2600 version of the game (which explains why the graphics look so crude), the AI, developed by a company called Maluuba that Microsoft acquired earlier this year, used an approach called Hybrid Reward Architecture. Using 150 agents that are each focused and rewarded for a specific completed task in the game, such as finding pellets, or avoiding ghosts, the AI was able to manage and prioritise them all in real time to play a perfect game.
The researchers chose Ms Pac-Man as it was written to be far less predictable than the original version of the game, which will help the AI they developed better deal with real-world situations that are equally unpredictable. Because as impressive as this feat is, few companies are willing to pay for something that just sits around and plays video games all day.