Games & Impact Link Round Up: First up, eSports

Welcome to the Round Up Series

This is the first post for our new weekly round up series for the Center for Games & Impact blog. At the Center we are all dedicated to games and positive social impact but our team members work in a variety of disciplines. I love hearing about what everyone else is reading and playing as we are going along about our separate projects. Recently, it came up that we should share our discoveries with each other and even here on the blog every few weeks or so. Ta da! The Friday Round Up series is born. Every so often we will post interesting games, books, blogs, and articles that we have come across online serendipitously, or perhaps from preliminary research into an area.

We would also like to know what you found interesting this week. Share your own interesting reads and plays with us in the comments.

This Week’s Round Up: An Initial Look at eSports

For the past few weeks some of our team has been looking at sports games, specifically at EA Sports’s Madden series and its newest release, Madden 25. Our sports games writer, Ross Dunham, has a review of the game on deck so be on the lookout for that in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we have also started to look at the growing world of eSports. Here are some interesting reads Ross came across during his research this week:

About eSports

The US Now Recognizes eSports Players as Professional Athletes (Forbes.com)
“To the general public, the idea that those who play video games for a living have much in common with high level professional athletes might be laughable. But those involved with the scene understand the unique talent, skill and determination of the players mirrors that of “real” athletes, even if their physical fitness is different.”  

Major League Gaming Looks to ESPN Model to Expand eSports Coverage (Forbes.com)
“Professional gaming continues to grow as a spectator sport, and Major League Gaming has presided over the dramatic expansion of the pastime in North America specifically the last few years. Their tournaments draw online stream viewers in the millions, while their average viewing times continue to rise with each passing event.”

Learning from eSports – 3 Ways to Make TV More Engaging Without the Second Screen (Gamification.co)
“For people who still watch regular broadcast television, it has become very common to actually watch TV while simultaneously using your laptop, phone, or tablet. Savvy networks like USA/NBC have picked up on this and created gamified mobile companion applications to engage with users as they both watch TV and browse on the net. There are compelling case-studies that outline the efficacy of this concept, coined the second screen, but I have not really seen any other kinds of engagement tactics for viewers. However, I found inspiration for new possible ways from the gamer community, and more specifically, the Dota 2 community.”

Popular eSports Games

DOTA 2
“Dota is a competitive game of action and strategy, played both professionally and casually by millions of passionate fans worldwide. Players pick from a pool of over a hundred heroes, forming two teams of five players.” —From Steam.com

League of Legends
“League of Legends (or as it was previously known, League of Legends: Clash of Fates) is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre video game developed by Riot Games, to operate on the Microsoft Windows operating system.[5] It was first announced on October 7th, 2008 and released a year later on October 27th, 2009.[6] The game was in beta from April 10th, 2009 [7] to October 26th, 2009.[8] ” —From the League of Legends Wikia

StartCraft II
“StarCraft II is a sequel to the PC based Real Time Strategy game StarCraft: Brood War made by Blizzard Entertainment. It is split into three installments: the base game with the subtitle Wings of Liberty, and two upcoming expansion packs, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. StarCraft II features the return of the three species from the original game: ProtossTerran, and Zerg.” —From Team Liquid liquidipedia

Ross, and Games & Impact Innovation Lab team members Ben Pincus and Alex Cope are working on a deeper look into eSports and impact – check back for their series in the upcoming months. Until then, where do you go to read about eSports or watch gameplay? Share your links in the comments below.

Games & Impact Web Round-Up – 9.7.2012

Here’s what we were reading and chatting about around the water cooler at the Center for Games & Impact:

Mojang and UN presents: Block by Block
“Just like the Swedish predecessor, “Block by Block” aims to involve youth in the planning process in urban areas by giving them the opportunity to show planners and decision makers how they would like to see their cities in the future.  Minecraft has turned out to be the perfect tool to facilitate this process. The three-year partnership will support UN-Habitat’s Sustainable Urban Development Network to upgrade 300 public spaces by 2016.”

Single Player Matters: Why Not All Games Need to Be ‘Social’
“It’s comments like Gibeau’s, both his initial one and his explanation, that are holding gaming back from being as respected of an art form as books, TV or movies. Yes, the ability to play and interact with others is a benefit of games over those other forms of media. But it is not the only benefit, and it can detract from a game if overly used. Video games have a unique opportunity to tell stories effectively because they put the player inside the shoes of the central character, forcing them to make the decisions that drive the story. It’s what makes Mass Effect or Heavy Rain more compelling than many movies or shows. Interestingly, I find Telltale’s The Walking Dead game a much more harrowing and emotional experience than watching the actual TV show. The main character is me. The group members are my friends. And it works because I’m experiencing it alone.”

No Sex Please, We’re Gamers
“The community’s response was polarised. Bellard observed a relatively even split between those calling for Seduce Me to be down-voted and threatening to complain, and those who, for various reasons, believed that content of this sort should be allowed a place on PC gaming’s most pervasive distribution platform. Ultimately, the community didn’t make the final decision; within an hour, No Reply received an e-mail from Valve stating that Seduce Me had violated Greenlight’s terms of service and had been removed from the process.”

Internet Petition Brings Aliens: Colonial Marines Female Jarheads
“It’s easy to doubt the significance and importance of online petitions, but every now and then they can make the voices of gamers heard. Such was the case when Gearbox producer Brian Burleson stated that Aliens: Colonial Marines’ multiplayer modes would exclusively feature playable male characters. Aliens fans found this a little odd, considering that the series is among the most female-centered franchises of science-fiction, so a petition was quickly filled with almost 4000 signatures demanding that the oversight be corrected.”

Could FarmVille 2 actually capture the hearts of core gamers?
“Zynga told me that their goal for FarmVille 2 was to create an experience that felt “relaxing and pastoral.” They want the title to evoke a feeling of nostalgia and recapture the feeling of living in a small town and running a small farm. They want the five-minute breaks people spend with FarmVille 2 to be “The best five minutes of their day.”

Games earn more money on Kickstarter than any other category
“In the eight months leading up to August 31, video games and board games on Kickstarter have earned a collective $50 million dollars. Other leading categories like Film and Design, meanwhile, have earned $42 million and $40 million, respectively.”

Gaming Accessibility Project Hopes To Help More Developers Make Games Disabled Gamers Can Play
“As for why accessibility is important? Other than the important issue of basic fairness and decency, the project points to data PopCap gathered showing that up to 20% of the player base for casual games have some kind of disability. That’s a lot of gamers who are currently being underserved—gamers who could be buying many more games, if developers take their needs into account.”

We want to know, did we miss something you thought was interesting? Did you pick up on the same news we did, what’d you think? Tell us what’s on your mind in Games & Impact news!