eSports Week 2: Mirrored Maps Madness

Prompt: With the understanding of how to create and run a tournament, create a 16-team bracket, and generate a random result and share those results. Describe how teams qualify, venue location, timing, staff needs, team needs, marketing, activation, sponsorship, ect. Argue for why your tournament would be successful and identify the biggest challenges for its creation. Evaluate the fan engagement of a major tournament and how they keep their fans happy and engaged. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading.


Link to tournament!

So I actually took the inspiration for this tournament from one I ran back when I was a community leader in the Team Fortress 2 Steam Forums. It was one of our most successful tournaments for a couple reasons: The spectators tuned in to see the mind-bending maps that were so similar yet so wrong, and the players took advantage of the plausible deniability of playing maps that were designed to be confusing, resulting in crazy frags and gutsy plays. It felt like an eSports version of Fischer Chess.

Team qualification would be a real problem, I’m not sure how we would handle this since nobody’s going to have prior histories on the chosen maps. (Back in the day this issue wasn’t applicable because we created the teams using whoever showed up to play).

I’ve noticed that professional tournaments love using data to generate fan engagement and interest. They use data to create storylines for specific players and teams, and to backup their predictions on what will happen next. I think one reason data is so successful for creating this user interest is that it makes the listener feel smart just by watching. When I watch CS:GO, a game I love but I’m not particularly good at, I’m partially studying the pros to see how I can improve, and when the casters point out some data trend and then tie it into the current meta, I feel like I just got better at the game by learning that.

I found the problems discussed in chapter 6 of Good Luck Have Fun very interesting to read, because I absolutely agree that eSports is suffering from its intrinsic link with internet culture and the problems therein. It’s sobering to remember that eSports is currently struggling to become a place where women and under-represented groups can feel comfortable participating as players or spectators, due in large part to the sheer difficulty in moderating the seething masses of young male internet fans participating at all times. I’m reminded of an article I wrote after ESL Cologne 2016, where I discussed Twitch chat and its meme-laden immaturity. I wrote that it was crass but ultimately harmless, and contributed positively to the experience by showing the viewer they were part of an active and interested community. Scarcely had my article been published that another writer, a young woman named Medic, wrote a rebuttal asserting that Twitch chat was not, in fact, harmless. In many ways (especially the way it reacted whenever a woman appeared on screen), Twitch chat was actively discouraging her from investing in the community because it was telling her that women were neither welcome nor expected to be interested anyway. As I’ve developed tournaments and created promotional content since then, I’ve tried to always remember what Medic’s article taught me, that I must be vigilant in noticing when an environment is fostering negative experiences even if I’m not one of the ones being targeted.

eSports Week 1: Three Potential Twitch Competitors

Can’t wait to see if the prof actually approves that third one as a focus of study


Prompt: Identify three gaming infrastructures (i.e. graphics, streaming services, game development, etc) and report how they will affect change and describe their impact. Give a projection for how you think the esports industry will look like in 5 years. Additionally, give an overview of most popular games in each game category and what has lead to their popularity, (200-700 words). Post this summary in SMWW e-Arena in the Week One Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme.

I predict rapid alterations in what platforms are the leading voices in eSports. Twitch has been the leading platform for the last five years, since Twitch Plays Pokemon brought them into the public focus, but I’ve noticed that when it comes to online trends, there’s always an “early adapter” who falls out of focus as soon as things hit mainstream. It happened when Discord replaced Mumble/Skype, it happened when Facebook replaced MySpace, and it happened when Google replaced Yahoo. With eSports on the verge of going mainstream, this is Twitch’s moment to seize history, but I want to explore their biggest competitors, the companies I think most likely to possibly seize their crown.

(One supplementary note: I firmly believe that OWL-style professional leagues are the future of eSports, as opposed to CS:GO-style leagues composed of passionate communities and grassroots origins. Traditional sports have shown that centralized, corporate-style orgs are both profitable and popular, and the increased control by a single entity allows unprecedented levels of organization and unity in branding. This is one reason I think Twitch has the potential to be replaced; corporate leagues will have the resources and cohesion to abandon one streaming platform for another if the winds shift.)

While Twitch is currently the leader in eSport-related streaming, I’m personally very interested in YouTube and whether it will be able to nudge its way into Twitch’s domain. Both companies have been steadily increasing their competing services for a while (Twitch now allows permanent video storage via the Highlight feature, and YouTube is aggressively promoting its streaming service) and if YouTube can get their act together I think they have several important selling points that can give them the edge over Twitch, namely brand recognition and ease of video storage in volume. Their biggest downside is their draconic copyright policies that are turning content creators off the platform. This largely turns away any potential eSport communities that aren’t corporate-controlled, like the Overwatch League, but I’ve already mentioned I think OWL-style leagues are the future so YouTube can potentially overcome these issues.

Second, I’d like to explore Mixer, the other major Twitch competitor. Mixer has a couple perks in its court: Microsoft money, crowdplay integration, and Hypezone technology. The second one is the most important; Mixer’s main claim to fame is that it supports HTML plugins that allow the viewing audience to directly involve themselves in the stream. For example, they can vote directly for events to happen in-game, or randomly-selected opt-in viewers can play as characters in supported titles. This offers a level of interactivity that no other streaming platform can offer, and has huge potential for gambling/fantasy circuits. The big question is (a) Does Microsoft have the guts to make themselves the fantasy eSports site of choice and (b) will governments allow them to do so or will they condone the practice as underage gambling, similar to how microtransaction loot boxes have been banned in Belgium.

Third (as silly as this sounds), I want to examine YouPorn, not as a competitor to Twitch but as a peripheral provider who specializes in adult leagues. This largely stems from my belief that OWL-style leagues are the future, and most corporations want to keep a family-friendly appearance since underage gamers are a huge market for eSport-style games. Most of the biggest names in eSports (Blizzard, Riot, Twitch, Valve) insist on keeping things family friendly. YouPorn, in contrast, has sponsored NSFW tournaments and fielded prize-winning professional teams since 2014. With modern eSports unanimously embracing the childsafe experience, a counterpart adult league is an untapped market and YouPorn seems to be the only website attempting to claim it.

I’d go into more detail, but the prompt said to keep our post to under 700 words. If anyone wants further justification or commentary on these three sites of choice, please let me know! I have a lot to say on all three, and hope to be able to do so in future posts.

eSports: Let’s Get Down to Business

I’ve enrolled in an eSports business course! For posterity, part of the class involves creating professional-looking forum posts in the discussion threads, and I’d rather have mine saved somewhere when they inevitably shut the threads down after the source concludes in 6 weeks. Here’s my post for the first week, the introductory phase:


Hi everyone! 

I’ve been a game developer for 7 years now, mostly working in either content creation (quest writing, sprite art, voice acting), content oversight (editing, implementation) or marketing (social media managing, convention attendance, tournament organization). As you maybe can guess, that third category is what brought me here Very Happy 

I got my first experience organizing gaming tournaments recreationally for the Team Fortress 2 Steam Forums, and transferred from TF2 to Overwatch when it was released in 2016. for a few months I shoutcasted Overwatch for a competitive team before I got too busy with obtaining my Master’s degree in Game Design from UC Santa Cruz. While in school, I worked as a marketer for several multiplayer student projects, and I would run Twitch tournaments to promote the titles. 

You can see my full gaming-related portfolio here if you like. It’s great seeing how many of you are from mainstream sports production, since I don’t have any connections in that industry and I’d love to fix that with this course. Recreationally, my favorite eSports to watch are CS:GO and Overwatch, and the Overwatch League in particular I consider the most exciting thing to happen in the history of eSports. It’s crazy to think people are watching it on Disney, ABC, and ESPN! 

Outside of eSports, my hobbies are releasing weekly gaming videos on YouTube and writing articles on the gaming news sites The Daily SPUF and DailyeSports.gg. I also have an itch.io page where I post my solo game projects. 

Last thing, anyone who wants to connect on LinkedIn, please don’t hesitate to send me an invitation! Just mention in the note that we’re both attending SMWW Smile

Baptiste is based on TFC Medic, dont @ me

I had something of a sobering moment the other day. I was wandering my old (and new) hometown during Shiny Rattata Day, and eventually I found myself at my old high school. I’d graduated 11 years ago, and most of my old teachers were either retired or transferred to different schools, but I did get to meet my old Drama teacher, which is awesome because she’s the one I wanted to see the most. I’d been the Improv manager and a regular in the school plays, so I’d spent many nights after school working on producing all sorts of theatrical events with her, and she asked me how I’d been doing since graduating. I explained to her that I’d moved to SF to get a game design degree and had been working in video games, and only recently moved back home for money reasons after getting written out of a startup I’d helped found. She asked how the family was doing and I talked about how my brother recently got promoted to head of HR at a startup.  She talked to me a bit about the plays they’d put on and how the school was doing, but she had to excuse herself shortly to manage the rehearsal that was about to start.

At the time, I thought we’d had a pleasant conversation, but later that night when I’d gone home I realized just how much of a corporate tool I must have sounded like. I had nothing to talk to her about except work and jobs, I bet she was disappointed in what I’d turned out to be. I never really expected to be so focused on employment, but it’s kinda been the driving force of my life since I left Ohio to break into games. I’ve been telling myself “once I pull it off, once I’m in the industry, I’ll start having a social life and hobbies again” but I’m starting to realize this ride never really stops. The increasingly-pessimistic tone of these blog updates are an indication that I need to restructure my priorities a little bit and keep the big picture in mind.

I started exercycling back up last night, and I just reinstalled Unity. An old SPUF friend added me on discord recently and when we learned we both wanted to know Unity, agreed to take a tutorial together. We’ll be starting with Pro builder next week.

There are some other cool things happening, and I’ll get into them in a future blog post, but for now I just want to apologize for the depressing tone I’d taken in my last few posts. Leaving San Francisco was a huge blow to my pride, but in all other metrics it’s done wonders for my mental health. I hope to have some more updates on gaming-oriented creative projects–like this blog was founded to talk about–real soon.

Auld Lang Syne

Well, it finally happened. I ran out of money and am moving away, back in with my parents. I guess that’s the risk I took when I pooled my money and moved to San Francisco. Nothing in life is certain, and game jobs are a famously risky industry.

I’ve never been one to attribute failure with bad luck, and indeed I can look at many, many things I could have done better in my two years in SF. While in college, I spent the lion’s share of my time on my schoolwork and almost no time trying to get hired. Once out of college, I routinely chickened out on aggressively seeking out employment with whatever contacts I managed to secure. I felt crippled by how staggeringly high the rent was, and how quickly my money was running out. I had to borrow from a close friend to make my last rent, and I’ll be retaking my old job at the Tutoring Club to rebuild my finances after paying him back.

I have some ideas for where I’ll go next, but none of them are very concrete. I was looking favorably at Irvine, but then Activision/Blizzard fired 800 people and flooded the market, so going there now would be a terrible idea. I’ve applied to several jobs in the local area, but I’d rather not live at my parent’s fulltime for the foreseeable future, since they have their own lives and I’d like to have one of my own. But for now, in all honesty, I need to count my blessings they were here to escape my SF situation, because I’d be homeless by March if they weren’t here to save me. I shouldn’t have cut it so close financially, but I was holding out hope that one of the dozens of companies I’d applied for would finally contact me.

There might be a brief lull in creative projects while I settle into my new place. Which is my old high school room, so honestly it shouldn’t take very long.

Updates on creative projects

I guess there are a few things that have changed since I last gave something of a progress update on various goals, so I’ll just list them all here for completionist’s sake.

  1. As mentioned before, we’ve hit some exciting milestones in several long-running series. As mentioned in “The 2s Have It”, we’ve got a bunch of big viewcounts on different websites, but the only number that really matters is 388; the current subscriber count for The SPUF of Legend. Subs are how you get anywhere on YouTube, especially considering most of my views come from me hyperlinking to the videos on reddit in related conversations. I haven’t had any real luck in translating our increasing viewcounts to a sustained community, though I know why it’s not currently working; I don’t really have a united theme in my videos to motivate anyone to come back.  You need to pick one game and stick with it in this industry; the Daily SPUF‘s viewership ratings were huge until we started covering games other than TF2, and the Spuf of Legend had a small dedicated community of viewers but they justifiably left when I stopped making Payday 2 videos. At the moment, my plan is to survive the next few weeks (more below) and wait for a really good, trendy, modern game to come out that I can leap on and corner the market with the same gusto I covered Payday 2.
  2. MasterClass has finished, and it was a great experience all around. Ended up recording footage from almost two dozen games, and the class turned out great. It was awesome watching the episode and seeing my recordings throughout, especially since many of them had my username aabicus in the HUD when the game needed it. Sadly it doesn’t appear to have translated into a full job with MasterClass, I would have loved to work with them as a fulltime employee. But there’s always the future!
  3. I went through the Darwin’s Soldiers wiki one day and added categories for gender. I mostly wanted to see the breakdown myself, turns out there are 280 males73 females, and 19 unknown/genderless characters in the Darwin’s Soldiers franchise. Guess that makes sense considering the combat/military focus, but I’m hoping we do a better job with the Into the Black franchise.
  4. Speaking of Into the Black, I finally finished an old story I’d started months earlier but abandoned when StarfallRaptor left the forum, since it was being written at his behest. But I hate leaving things unfinished, though I’d have made an exception if I’d known it would become the longest story in the canon. “Weekend at Jessica’s” is a Starfall story, so expect a lot of sex/adult themes, and I’m working on another Emilena story for people who prefer the ‘action noir’ style-storylines. It takes place back when Emilena was a cop, and covers her going undercover as a waitress to discover which employees at a fancy restaurant are using their job to peddle drugs.
  5.  GDC is coming up, and I might or might not be going. I have an opportunity for a free press pass, in exchange for reporting for someone else’s YouTube channel, and I am absolutely taking that opportunity if it happens for the sheer networking potential alone.
  6. Apex Legends surprised everyone by launching onto the public stage and genuinely being a blast to play. I find myself coming back to it even when I normally don’t like Battle Royales, and to my surprise I actually want to make videos on it. Let’s see if I can get a foothold in this brand new community.

My Biggest Mistakes

(I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, but I’m trying to get back to writing for myself. darwinssoldiers.com has been bottom of my focus pile for a while)

I’ve pretty much lived my life taking opportunities whenever possible. I used to work in a nursing home, and I got to talk to a lot of people at the end of their lives. Almost all of them regretted things they didn’t do.

To try and avoid that, I’ve always pushed forward. I’ve lived in two countries and three different states, I’ve chased my dream job of game development for over seven years, and I’ve learned every piece of creative software I could get my hands on. As a high-schooler discovering the internet, I dreamed I would one day be able to Photoshop images or turn snippets of my gameplay into GIFs, and it’s great that I can now effortlessly do such things.

But that doesn’t make these 3 memories any easier:

  1. As an undergraduate, a film studio decided to use the college I was attending as the primary set for a horror film they were creating. For most of my sophomore year I’d be walking around and occasionally see them recording or prepping at random locations throughout the campus and surrounding city. I appeared in a very, very minor role as an extra but otherwise did absolutely nothing to make friends or connections with the studio staff. Even worse, the screenwriter and one of the producers were close family friends! I could have done anything I wanted if I’d just asked them. But unfortunately, I didn’t want anything at the time. I never even considered Hollywood a possible job direction, so the movie eventually wrapped up and, and was only ever a passing curiosity in my college years. I can only imagine where I might be right now if I’d taken advantage of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even a little bit.Kinda connected to that one, I didn’t make good use at all of my undergraduate professors. Everyone warned me before I went to college that it was extremely important to befriend them because they would be a huge resource in the future when looking for jobs and opportunities. I got to know the Film Studies teached well enough, and co-authored a compilation with one of the English professors, but other than that I pretty much graduated and left when my 4 years were up. I didn’t go to office hours nearly enough, and to no surprise wound up alone and struggling to find a job out of college. I feel less bad about this one because I did a much better job with forming collegiate connections in my Master’s program.
  2. On my first day in San Francisco after graduating college (six years ago), I had secured an apartment with my boyfriend and we’d been lucky enough to gain a video game connection with a man my mom knew from work. He offered, and we readily agreed, to meet up for coffee and he’d talk to us about the job market, our resumes, and what we needed to know to ingratiate ourselves in the city. After coffee, he drove us around San Franscisco and pointed out various game studios he knew and how likely we were to be hired by them.And then he parked in front of a drab-looking building and pointed saying “That’s Double Fine.” Double Fine was one of the world’s most famous game writing companies, and I loved their games. He encouraged me to walk right in there, without a plan, and ask them for a job right now. I remember my boyfriend sitting next to me, also encouraging me to do so. It felt like the sort of choice you’d encounter in one of Double Fine’s game, to be honest, but I ended up making the wrong choice.  I was too scared to walk in there; I hadn’t scheduled an appointment or anything, I hadn’t researched the company or learned their company values and all I had was an unspecialized resume I hadn’t hand-crafted to give to them. Also, I couldn’t fathom they’d be interested in a junior writer whose largest published game at the time was Legends of Equestria. A couple seconds passed, and when they realized I wasn’t getting out of the car, we drove away.

    Would that moment have led to a job at Double Fine? Probably not. But I’ll never know.

  3. And lastly, I regret the last six months. I graduated in September 2018 having not done nearly enough to secure a job out of college. I did great in the actual program but I only applied for a few positions while I was still enrolled. Upon leaving, I continued to apply for jobs but with something of a slow-burning longterm anxiety attack giving me sleepless nights. I am well aware that you can only call yourself a “recent graduate” for the first six months after you obtain your diploma, and now here we are and I’m no closer to being employed than when I started. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs, but I should have applied for hundreds. I should have bugged people and made more phone calls and networked and done everything in my power to secure a position before it was too late.