What do you need to host your first esports tournament?

As you know if you follow me, I am the advisor of the esports club at UNCW. Recently, I have been getting a lot of emails from schools, clubs, or organizations who would like to know how to set up their own esports tournament. The following video goes through the basics you would need, the minimum, when hosting a small tournament. I kept this simple so that it would be easy to follow and there are a lot of details left out (on purpose). The idea here is that you have a guide to work from to put together a plan to host your own tournament.

Blue Light – 30 Day Challenge

Update from Week 2: I am noticing something new – I can’t stay awake in bed to read. Usually I read from 30-60 minutes per night. For the last 1.5 weeks I have been falling asleep within 5-10 minutes. The first few nights I didn’t think anything of it but now its the same every night. This is cool but I really need to finish my latest book!

Original post:

I have been interested in blue light glasses for quite a while now and for Christmas this year got a pair (https://amzn.to/37twDgw)! Actually I got two pair! So naturally being curious I decided to try them out. I wanted to do a 30 day challenge to see if I noticed any difference in my sleep or headaches when wearing the glasses. You see, I have read that these glasses can do all sorts of wonders, which makes me think they are snake oil. But I am a migraine sufferer, so anything that could potentially help is worth trying out, especially if it’s risk free!

So I began my journey by researching blue light. What I found was that blue light, like most other things in life, is both good and bad. It’s great for us in the day, it gives up energy. But at night, it can mess up our sleep and sleep is very important for human health. So essentially being on a screen right before bed can affect our sleep (notice I said can, not does because the research is very undecided at this point).

So the first thing I did was test my blue light glasses. I bought a test kit from amazon to test them (https://amzn.to/2ugdlNy). This test kit showed they did block blue light. The problem was that I didn’t know how much blue light the test kit shows was being blocked. Additionally, I couldn’t find any research saying how much blue light needs to be blocked for you to notice a difference. This makes this all more tricky as I essentially need to self experiment. So self experiment I did…

Additionally, I also realized that I can block blue light on my devices without glasses. There are settings on your PC, Mac, Iphone, Android, etc that allow you to block blue light.

OK so lets talk some results. Keep in mind, I am only 1 week into this test but I have already learned a lot.

First a side note – I noticed in my research that when blue light is blocked that a screen should appear orange/red. This is what also happens when I turn off the blue light from my computer and phone. But my blue light glasses are clear. The company claims to have some “other technology” allowing it to be clear but when I see what the researchers from NASA are using, they are also using orange tinted glasses. This leads me to my results…

Wearing the glasses, I am noticing nothing. No difference. None whatsoever. But what is interesting is that as soon as I turn the blue light off of my computer or phone, like within minutes, my eyes feel less strained. I really notice this difference right away. I haven’t noticed it impacting my sleep or headaches but there is a difference. This makes me think my blue light glasses need to be the good orange ones (https://amzn.to/2QQlSiV) or they aren’t blocking enough blue light. So my initial opinion is that the clear glasses don’t block enough. I also think you do not need the glasses at all. Why not just turn the blue light off your computer and phone an hour before bedtime? They have settings to set a time so you won’t even need to do it more than once. Anyway, those are my initial results. I will post more over the next few weeks of my 30 days challenge. Here are some videos where I discuss all of this:

10 Reasons Elearning sucks and how to make it better!

ATTENTION! ALERT! – The following tutorial SUCKS! And you have to take it! – Sound familiar (minus the suck part)?

In the following video I discuss why Elearning sucks! Well most of it that is:) There is some really great training out there but for the most part, when I take a self paced Elearning tutorial I want to pull my hair out or fall asleep. I have outlined 10 reasons here which are discussed in depth in the video. I hope that the trend to develop boring training can change…

1. Untrained ID
2. Lack of investment
3. Nobody knows better
4. Rely only on tech solutions
5. Rely on simple dev tools
6. ID one stop shop
7. Solution before problem
8. Job aids vs training
9. Reinventing the wheel
10. Boring is acceptable

How to stop laptop from overheating!

I recently was on vacation, using a brand new alienware computer, and ran into a lot of overheating issues. This is not something I normally experience with my home computer, which is also an alienware, so I had to take steps to solve the issue and make sure the computer wasn’t broken and to lower the temps. High temps can mean a broken machine or it can just mean you need to make a few adjustments.

The main issue I was running into was that games, like Overwatch, were increasing the temps to 99 degrees celsius. That is way too high and can damage a machine. Ideally you don’t want temps above 85-90 when pushing the processor and temps below 65 when idle. To monitor the temps, I used a program call HWINFO, which was showing high temps after just a few minutes of gaming. Here are the steps I took to lower the temps on the machine:

1. Used a laptop board that was vented and angled.
2. Undervolted the machine using throttlestop.
3. Lowered the amount of turbo boost the machine can use.

I describe how I do each of these in the video. By the end of the process I was able to keep the machine below 80 degrees at all times. That means that my machine is not broken and just needed some adjustments to maintain a good temperature. Remember laptops cram a lot into a small space so high temps are not unusual when you push the processor. This was a new machine and hadn’t been tested. I find all of my machines usually need adjustment to find that sweet spot to maximize performance while keeping the machine below temps that will damage it!

Links to everything discussed in video:

Laptop cooling pad: https://amzn.to/35ax6CI
Throttlestop:https://www.techpowerup.com/download/techpowerup-throttlestop/
HWINFO: https://www.hwinfo.com/

Video Game Addiction

I have been talking a lot about this topic recently so decided making a blog post and video was worthwhile. First, I want to point out that addiction to anything can be serious and if you found my post or video looking for help, please go to an addiction professional. I am a tech professional stating my thoughts on video game addiction.

We hear from the media that video games are addictive and causing a downfall in society. Is that true? Well it turns out we used to think the same thing about reading.

“Concerns about Lesesucht (reading addiction) had been at their highest in Europe during the 1700s with the rise of the entertainment novel. There were fears that society would go to wrack and ruin – women would neglect their housework, people would begin living in fantasy worlds, sexual excitement would be stimulated, everyone would become socially isolated, no one would get anything done. The noble pursuit of reading, for spiritual and scientific edification, was being debauched and degraded. Moral anxiety about new media repeats itself later with radio, then television, then video games and internet.” (Source – https://corpus.nz/curing-lesesucht-addiction-to-reading/)

In fact you can see this at the beginning of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when the town thinks Bell is ‘crazy’ for reading!

So it seems as if there is a reason we are afraid of new media. I am not sure why but it does seem like there is.

But the question is still, are video games addictive? The answer is – no more than anything else (but this headline doesn’t make money). It turns out we can be addicted to anything. Food addiction, work addiction, exercise addiction, running addiction, internet addiction, texting addiction, sewing addiction, surfing addiction, etc. When you dig further in the research you find that there are mixed numbers but overall none of these are really more addicting than the other.

But did you hear that 87% of the population plays video games? So what. 100% of the population eats food and we are aren’t bashing food (at least the healthy kind) because of food addiction. What we are doing is encouraging healthy eating – the same thing we should be doing with games which is encouraging healthy game play. While addiction is serious there is no reason to be concerned about games being any more addicting than anything else just like books. My advice: teach healthy game play. See my video for more info:

eSports in Schools? Making a case for eSports in schools using research!

In this video I walk through research on learning, engagement, and retention as it pertains to gaming and eSports. This is part of a literature review I have done to help make a case for eSports at my university. It’s important for people to understand that eSports is more than just gaming – its a community that involves learning, teamwork, project management, and much more. For students, it can improve grades, increase motivation to come to school and participate, and give them a chance to get involved in their school and community.

Here is some of the research I highlight:

  1. Video games and learning (*This research focused on games for entertainment, not instructional games)
  • Strategic game play predicts higher problem solving skills and academic grades (Adachi & Willoughby, 2013)
  • Computer and video game play can lead to a higher GPA (Bowers & Berland, 2013)
  • Socialization that occurs within and around games can lead to social knowledge construction and scientific reasoning skills (Steinkuehler & Duncan, 2008)
  • There is compelling evidence indicating that action video game play engenders clear enhancements in an array of perceptual, attentional, and cognitive skills (Green, Bavelier, Daphne, 2016)
  • Playing action video games enhances several different aspects of visual processing (Green & Bavelier, 2007)
  • Large % of those interested in eSports major in STEM fields – double the national average (Reames, 2018)
  • Providing competitive eSports teams in schools satisfies the growing desire to train and educate students on the soft skills emphasized in STEM and Career Technical Education (CTE) education, as well as in programs such as English and Language Arts (Rothwell & Shaffer, 2019)
  1. Engagement and retention
  • eSports competition is a catalyst for the application of real world skills and problem solving ability (Baltezarević & Baltezarevic, 2019). This competition takes place outside of the classroom as an extracurricular activity similar to any other sport (Kane & Spradley, 2017).
  • Participation in extracurricular activities leads to school identities, behavioral engagement in the classroom, higher grades and test scores, higher educational achievements, more regularity in class attendance and higher self-confidence, leadership and teamwork abilities in students. (Im, Hughes, Cao, & Kwok, 2016; Tariq, 2018)
  • Participation in extracurricular activities decreases the use of drugs, alcohol and behavioral and disciplinary problems related to their use.(Tariq, 2018)
  • More than 80% of students in the High School eSports League were not involved in other extracurricular activities before eSports. (Schaffhauser, 2019)
  • Without a school esports club, passionate gamers often feel left out of mainstream school social life. Organized esports bring these kids into the fold. It can help them become accepted and respected members of their school community. Keeping them excluded can leave lasting damage. Being excluded is an invisible form of bullying (ViewSonic, 2019; Williams, Kipling & Nida, 2011)
  • Playing video games prior to learning can lead to higher levels of engagement, motivation and achievement (Kapp, Valtchanov, & Pastore, Under Review – Minor Revisions in ETRD)

How much does sound quality matter when recording a video or podcast?

Sound quality if very important when creating a video or podcast. Instead of telling you how important sound quality is, I decided to run an experiment showing you how different mics sound. The difference is telling, especially when you hear the difference between a nice mic and your standard mic on your laptop. When you hear the two one after another the difference is HUGE! Here is a link for the Blue Yeti Mic I use when recording my sound – https://amzn.to/2qPRlYm. Take a look for yourself in the following video:

How do I make my videos?

I have been asked this question so many times that I figured it was time for me to show you! So how do I make my tutorials? How do I add myself to a video when showing off a piece of software? Its easy and its complicated! I know that’s probably not the answer you are looking for. I think most people want me to say “I am using X software that does it all” but unfortunately it involves several pieces of software and hardware. In the following video I explain everything I am using:

UNCW eSports Tournament #1

We had our first eSports tournament at UNCW. This was an internal club event and was really a pilot for future events on campus. The event was awesome! We played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. We ended up with around 70 participants, 120 people total there, and 173 views on our Twitch page.

That was way more than we expected. Then again, Smash is a very popular game and perfect for this kind of event, so that did play a part.

Other games will not be run in the same manner and we can’t expect the same turnout when using different games. For example, a league of legends tournament may have hardly anyone actually attend in person, rather, people would attend online. I like to tell people eSports is like no other sport and its closest comparison would be track and field. Anyway, here are a few videos from the event:

Actual event footage:

My reflections/lessons learned on the event: