There are many different kinds of AI used in games; AI for historical board games (like chess or Go) tends to be much better than AI for computer games (such as Starcraft or Civilization), in large part because there's more academic interest in developing strategies for those games.
The basic structure of a game-playing AI is that it takes in game state inputs and outputs an action; typically, the internals also contain some sort of goal and some sort of future prediction.
But beyond that, there's tremendous amounts of variability. Some AI are little more than scripted reflexes, some are built like control systems, some do actual optimization and forward thinking.
Getting into the details of how the many different approaches work is probably beyond the scope of this site, though.