Ethical Considerations for the Use of AI in Esports Refereeing and Judging

4 min readFeb 3, 2023


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Why did the sports official cross the street? Of course, to get to the other side and make fair decisions! In all seriousness, esports is a burgeoning industry with millions of players and fans worldwide. As esports grow in popularity, so does the demand for accurate and fair refereeing and judging.

Many companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help with decision-making in order to ensure the integrity of the games. While this technology has the potential to transform the industry, it also raises significant ethical concerns that must be addressed.


The use of artificial intelligence in esports refereeing and judging has the potential to provide numerous benefits to the industry. For starters, AI algorithms can rapidly process massive amounts of data in order to make highly accurate decisions in real time. In 2019, for example, the game “League of Legends” integrated AI algorithms to detect and penalize players for in-game behaviors such as toxicity and harassment. This contributed to a more enjoyable gaming experience for players while also lowering the risk of human error.

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Another advantage of using AI for refereeing and judging in esports is that AI algorithms can be programmed to make decisions based on objective criteria such as rules and regulations. This eliminates the possibility of bias and ensures that all participants are treated fairly. For example, the NBA2K league introduced AI technology in 2020 to assist referees in making instant replay decisions.

Finally, AI can aid in increasing the speed and efficiency of decision-making. In a fast-paced game like esports, every second counts, and AI algorithms can assist in making quick and accurate decisions. This can help to reduce the likelihood of delays and ensure that games are finished on time.


Despite the benefits of AI in esports refereeing and judging, there are some serious risks to be aware of. For starters, there is the risk of technological failure. AI algorithms, like any other computer system, can fail or produce incorrect results. This could have serious consequences if it happens during a crucial moment in a game. For example, in 2020, an AI system error caused a critical flaw in the “Call of Duty” mobile game, resulting in its temporary suspension.

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Another risk is that AI algorithms will be programmed to favor specific players or teams. This could give certain players an unfair advantage or disadvantage, which would be unacceptable in a fair and just competition. Furthermore, there is a risk of data privacy and security issues if AI algorithms are not properly monitored.

Ensuring the Ethical Use

To ensure that AI is used ethically in esports refereeing and judging, it is important to establish clear guidelines and standards. These guidelines should be developed by a panel of experts in the field of AI, gaming, and ethics.

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It is also important to have a clear and transparent decision-making process. This means that players and fans should be able to see exactly how AI algorithms are making decisions, and have the ability to challenge or question those decisions if necessary.

Finally, it is crucial to have a system in place for monitoring and auditing the use of AI in esports refereeing and judging. This will help to ensure that the technology is being used appropriately and that the integrity of the games is protected.


The use of AI in esports refereeing and judging has the potential to revolutionize the industry and bring many benefits. However, it is important to carefully consider the ethical implications of this technology and ensure that it is used in a responsible and fair manner.

By establishing clear guidelines, a transparent decision-making process, and a system for monitoring and auditing the use of AI, we can ensure that the integrity of the games is protected and that all players are treated