Could we be watching robots play eSports in the future?

eSports are among the fastest growing forms of competition on the planet, with players taking part in some of the more popular video games in the world in front of huge crowds with big money on the line. But, interestingly enough, it is worth wondering whether the players will continue to be a part of the eSports formula in the long run. That is because there is the prospect of eSports one day being played by robots, so to speak, which would fully digitize an already digital form of competition.

Other uses of robotics in competition

Around the world, robotics competitions already take place in different forms, with humans creating machines to compete against one another at various tasks. These can include things like academic competitions, where robots are assigned to complete a series of objectives, or tournaments where robots are made to fight one another for sport while being controlled by humans. No matter what the goal of each individual competition, though, the point is that robots are being used to help humans compete with each other.

They can also be used in gaming to create gameplay that simply isn’t possible for humans to perform. This is because a computerized being can’t be limited by the number of keystrokes that they can perform at a given time—at least not as severely as the human body is limited. This, in many games, allows computerized “players” to do things that would be extremely difficult for people. While the human emotion in eSports would be hard to replace, robots are already replacing humans in many tasks and could provide a level of play that would be difficult for any person to replicate.

Close up of code

With Elon Musk and others experimenting with robotic eSports competitors, the sport could become more about coding than coordination.

Elon Musk’s experiment

One of the leaders in the technology space, Elon Musk has dipped his toes into the world of combining robotics with eSports, as he is experimenting with Artificial Intelligence in a competitive gameplay setting. Musk has worked at setting up various bots to play against actual eSports competitors in DOTA 2 matches before, with the bots’ “machine learning” actually being good enough to defeat some players who were among the best players in the game.

As was expected, some of the AI’s capabilities did not just reflect quality from a gameplay perspective, but also would simply be too difficult for a regular person to pull off due to the physical constraints of the human brain and body. While this doesn’t mean that robots would be able to win against the best players in the world automatically, the potential for a higher quality of play has been on display with Musk’s project, which could see the landscape of competitive gaming change forever.

The future of eSports

Even the most avid competitive gamers probably couldn’t have envisioned the way that eSports have grown over the years, with massive competitive gaming venues sprouting up all over the world. But the future of eSports, with robotics playing a role, could see the industry only continue to get bigger and more compelling as time goes on. One such way this could happen could be with the implementation of divisions for both human and computerized players. Since the robot competitors would be programmed by humans and created by humans, this would add another way for people to compete, even if they themselves are not elite eSports competitors.

And no matter who is playing, be it people or robots, the interest surrounding competitive gaming appears poised to continue to grow. Right now, the bulk of the interest in eSports rests in specific parts of the world, which means that there are other regions that could get more into it as time goes on. And with quality internet access becoming more widely-available and less of a cost barrier to entry for gaming equipment, it is very possible that eSports could break through as the world’s most popular sport sooner rather than later, even if robots are the ones playing.

the author

He’s a cat. He likes to play video games. He often has a hard time with this since he’s a gamer cat living in a gamer human world, but he gets by.