The EULA – aka the wall o’ text that we all blitz past in order to get to play the MMORPG or multiplayer title we just bought – will very often mention that user data is being collected for analytics. But just what is that data being used for? According to a recent article from Wired, it’s not just for analytics purposes related to the game you’re playing; it’s being applied to a variety of different means, from targeted advertising to machine learning and AI creation.
The piece references several research studies and journalist reports on game data collection and notes how the process has ballooned into various directions. Unsurprisingly, large companies like Activision, EA, and Epic Games use these tools, but there’s also middleware sold to smaller studios that helps them understand player behavior and maximize retention.
User data collection and analysis has reached such levels of refinement that it has crafted other technologies outside of the games industry that follow similar collection logic. This in turn creates “gamifying” incentives for Uber drivers or the use of a health app, harvests how players interact with ads to get the “right” ones in front of the “right” people, or aids in the creation of games made for Amazon warehouse employees to gather more data and maintain “Amazon pace.”
Gamer inputs and gamer data have also been applied to machine learning, dovetailing from Alphabet’s AlphaStar AI and OpenAI’s OpenAI Five, which learned and defeated real-world players in MOBA titles and strategy titles, into machine learning for use in military strategy application and physical robotics – efforts that have been sponsored by the likes of DARPA, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.