Imagine being one of the best in the world at a video game and having an A.I. opponent tell you, “I have a 95% chance of winning” just minutes into a match. Artificial Gamer tells the story of that A.I. and its creators on the biggest stage in all of eSports. Taking their A.I. to “The International,” a mecca of the best DOTA 2 players in the world, Open A.I. has one year to create a bot that stands up against the best players humanity has to offer. The documentary tells the classic human vs. machine debate from the perspective of those who build the machines.
Just moments after winning a 1v1 DOTA 2 match at Worlds, co-founder of Open A.I., Greg Brockman, sets the challenge to win a 5v5 bout next year. Diving into the history of DOTA 2 and expanding on its complex gameplay, the developers at Open A.I. liken their challenge to teaching a computer “chess strategy at a basketball pace.” After facing setbacks against a team of Chinese legends, Open A.I. finds themselves redoubling their efforts to stand a chance against the best teams in the world.
“…Open A.I. has one year to create a bot that stands up against the best players…”
Artificial Gamer is packed with frenetic and fun eSports action. Director Chad Hershberger thrusts the viewer into the colossal world of DOTA 2 capturing, the passion of the programmers and the scale of arenas packed with twenty-thousand plus to witness this titan of eSports. The film engages you with the community and explains complex gameplay and programming in ways that keep you invested as an audience member- regardless of prior gaming knowledge. Even small moments of explaining some quick strategy or DOTA vocabulary help integrate you into the Open A.I. community and the world of eSports.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of Artificial Gamer is its balance. Herschberger has created a narrative that equally focuses on the personal stories of those at Open A.I. while showcasing the massive DOTA fandom in the world of eSports. The movie displays a binary theme of individual accomplishment leading to collaborative achievement, exemplifying eSports in a way few productions could.
I honestly loved Artificial Gamer. The film is an immersive trek into a world of A.I., eSports, and gaming culture as a whole. It’s equally a love letter and invitation into the world of gaming. Beyond its voyage into DOTA, the movie gives a transfixing narrative about the future of artificial intelligence. The story has some brief lulls but nothing that would diminish its ability to make you cheer against the humans in an A.I. battle arena. This is a nerdy, entertaining documentary primed for fans of IGN and G4.
"…a nerdy, entertaining documentary primed for fans of IGN and G4."