eSports is evolving fast, and the demand for better experiences is driving AI to new territories. Source: Shutterstock

eSports is evolving fast, and the demand for better experiences is driving AI to new territories. Source: Shutterstock

eSports is reserved for gamers, but businesses need to be keen observers

BUSINESSES are often excited about developments in the eSports space — not because of the technology they use but because of the marketing opportunities they offer.

Any respectable eSports event today sees millions of dollars of marketing spend, with the industry growing rapidly year-on-year. At the start of the year, Reuters reported that the industry grossed US$1 billion for the first time ever.

However, over the past few months, gaming companies in the eSports category have started exploring artificial intelligence (AI), giving businesses more reason to observe the developments in the industry.

Tech Wire Asia recently caught up with Tencent VP Yao Xing whose sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI)-based application Wukong AI defeated “professional human gamers” at one of China’s most popular games — Honor of Kings — in 30 minutes flat.

“Wukong AI is learning in a Tabula Rasa environment with no human data or content built-in. All the knowledge that Wukong AI learns comes from its experiences of playing against itself.

“It can train at the equivalent of more than 440 years of games per day,” which allows the AI solution to learn techniques that enhance gameplay and build strategies that human players wouldn’t normally think of.

However, Wukong AI isn’t just a complicated simulation tool. There’s more to the application than meets the eye.

“Wukong AI’s expertise in the development and organization of algorithms and data will be able to provide professional players with real-time analysis and advice on data organization, collaborative strategies, and professional training at different levels.”

However, the reality is that Wukong AI — and the rapid development of AI to support eSports applications — has wider implications for other industries that require the strategic capabilities that are evolved in this specific use case.

“The victory of Tencent Wukong AI in the competition has led to the projection of AI’s strengths in learning, understanding, analyzing, reasoning, and decision-making in real-time environments in complex situations.

“It could also be applied in real-world challenges that may be faced by other industries such as agriculture, medical, robotics, manufacturing, and more,” explained Yao.

While Yao didn’t go into much detail about how it would help other industries, one of the use cases that immediately spring to mind is in the development of autonomous cars.

All of the strategic and tactical know-how that AI systems develop in eSports use cases can be applied directly to self-driving or autonomous cars navigating through traffic, with pedestrians and human-drivers thrown in the mix.

Overall, in the future, it’s possible that AI developments in eSports will spill over to other industries — which is why it makes sense for businesses to closely watch the eSports space.