Video games have come a long way. We can play with other people from across the world, something that seemed unimaginable in the 80’s & 90’s. This phenomenon, called online multiplayer, has been a big thing in the gaming community, and a lot of games use algorithms to decide which players fight each other. Games like first-person shooters (e.g., Halo, Call of Duty, Apex Legends), sports games (e.g., Fifa, Madden, etc.), and fighting games are generally expected to have a proper functioning online component at launch if they want to succeed at all. A significant amount of data is used to make sure game features are set up functionally and fairly. For example, this data might include things like ping and frame rate or a player’s win/loss ratio. This data is run through algorithms that help define the skill level and internet connection quality of each player. They primarily use a system similar to the Elo ranking system of Chess, which uses two primary equations. The first one measures the probability for one player to win over another, and the second one takes that result and uses it to determine that player’s rank.

Elo Rating System Equations (Véron et al., 2014, sec. 2.2):

  • [latex]Ea= \frac{1}{1+10^{(Rb-Ra)/400)}}[/latex]
  • [latex]Ra_{new}=Ra_{old}+K*(Sa-Ea)[/latex]

While this system works, it has created challenges for some players. Depending on the game, this matching system can either match really good and famous players with really bad ones and drag their ranking down, or in some games, these content creators are actively looking for lower ranked players so they can dominate the competition and gain lots of viewers. Though they aren’t a majority, these big names also advertise the games they play and broadcast to the world. This means developers need to somehow cater to both sides and find a way to keep the game from getting imbalanced. They do this through the use of the data of all players, which is shown in various multiplayer games. But this data collection also poses certain problems regarding the secrecy of development, and just how some people get access to the data.