Activision using Call of Duty player data to train anti-trolling AI

Activision is using player data from Call of Duty to create AI that will curb trolling in multiplayer games, as updates land for Warzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2

Activision using Call of Duty player data to train anti-trolling AI. A soldier, Alejandro from CoD Modern Warfare 2, stands by a window preparing to attack

Activision is partnering with the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, to use Call of Duty player data in order to train an AI that will help curb trolling behaviour in multiplayer games, as the latest CoD, Modern Warfare 2, receives a huge update alongside Warzone 2.

As part of a two-year project, Activision is working alongside professors and researchers at Caltech in order to cultivate artificial intelligence tools that can detect and help moderate toxic behaviour in online games. The project will utilise Activision’s own data regarding how players interact in multiplayer games, with the developers and engineers behind Call of Duty working closely with the team at Caltech.

“Whether it is trolling, racism, sexism, doxing, or just general harassment, the internet has a bad behaviour problem,” a statement from Caltech explains. “As the internet continued to grow and harmful behaviours became more extreme, it became apparent that moderators need better tools at their disposal.”

Activision and the Call of Duty team will work with Anima Anandkumar, Bren professor of computing and mathematical sciences, and Michael Alvarez, a professor of political and computer science, to create AI moderation tools that have “potential use in gaming.”

“Activision’s data engineers…will provide insight into player engagement and game-driven data,” Caltech’s statement continues. “Alvarez and Anandkumar have already worked together on training AI to detect trolling in social media. Their project with the team that works on the Call of Duty videogames will allow them to develop similar technology for potential use in gaming.

“Working with Activision gives the researchers not only access to data about how people interact in online games, but also to their specialised knowledge,” the statement says. The project will help “create an AI that can detect abusive online behaviour and help the company’s [Activision’s] support and moderation teams to combat it.”

The news comes as the current suite of Call of Duty games gets an overhaul courtesy of a new Warzone 2 update and a new Modern Warfare 2 update. Raven Software, which co-develops Call of Duty, has already reversed some of the Warzone 2 changes, including the amount of buy stations available in the battle royale game, after only one day.