At BlizzCon 2016, it was announced that Blizzard would open up the APIs from strategy game StarCraft II to AI researchers across the world. It’s collaborating with Google's DeepMind for this initiative.
According to DeepMind’s Oriol Vinyals, real-time strategy games such as StarCraft II would be a great test for AI given the hidden information and asymmetry constitute to elements of its gameplay which could end up helping in solving problems in the fields of science and energy among others.
“DeepMind is on a scientific mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be told how. Games are the perfect environment in which to do this, allowing us to develop and test smarter, more flexible AI algorithms quickly and efficiently, and also providing instant feedback on how we’re doing through scores,” a prepared statement on the company’s website reads.
“StarCraft is an interesting testing environment for current AI research because it provides a useful bridge to the messiness of the real-world. The skills required for an agent to progress through the environment and play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks.”
(Also see: The Original Diablo Will Be Playable in Diablo 3)
Blizzard CEO and President Mike Morhaime simply stated that fans could “help by simply playing StarCraft II online.” An odd way of putting it considering playing online is the preferred way to play StarCraft II by many.