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:

Video game history!

This is a video I have been meaning to create for a very long time. I love games! I have been playing video games since I was 3 yrs old when my dad brought home and Atart 2600 and Magnavox Odyssey 2. I still to this day am not sure why he got a 3 yr old a video game system, let alone 2 of them, but they started me on a long journey. So making this video felt like I was reliving a part of my past to the present day. It was a lot of fun to see it. After the atari/magnavox I upgraded to the turbographix, NES, and sega genesis. All 3 were a blast but nintendo was a clear winner for me with mario, zelda, and many others. Here are all of the systems I owned to present day. The video goes into the actual history but this is mine: Atari 2600, Magnavox Odyssey 2, NES, Sega Master System, Turbographix 16, SNES, Gameboy, N64, Gamecube, PS2, Xbox 360, GameboyAdvance SP, Gameboy DS, Nintendo Wii, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch. This doesn’t include all of the Computers, both Mac and PCs I’ve had and game with! I hope you enjoy:

Is Fortnite appropriate for kids?

My son, 8 yrs old, is begging to play this game (fortnite). Apparently he is the only kid in his class that is not allowed to play it, which is ironic considering I am probably the only parent in the class that plays it! Having said that, he will finally be allowed this Oct when he turns 9. I believe he is finally ready. But no way is my 6 yr old allowed. He is not ready. He is not mature enough.

My biggest suggestion to parents – please monitor each game your child wants to play. Here is my 5 point plan for monitoring a specific game:

  1. Ask your child if its appropriate
  2. Google the game and check out some reviews
  3. Look at the game website and/or app store to read the description
  4. Check out the game rating
  5. Play the game yourself

Honestly, I can do all of this in 20-30 minutes. Yes it takes up my time but its well worth it. I have to block about 20% of games that my son asks to play. I enjoy games so I don’t mind learning about them. Plus I can talk to him about the game and see what it is about it that interests him. Check out the following video where I discuss Fortnite and how it is/is not appropriate for kids:

How popular are eSports?

Are eSports popular? Can you make money off of eSports? Do college offer eSports and gaming scholarships? Are there eSports arenas? These are some of the questions I answer in this video. Here are are some of the numbers and figures I discuss:

Some numbers:

43 billion – How much the movie industry made in 2018. Its also the amount the gaming industry made in America in 2018!

115 million – Highest viewership for a super bowl, ever, in 2015. 98 million – how many views the super bowl had in 2019. These super bowl #s are just to put perspective on gaming viewership since its the highest watched event in america.

99 million – How many people watch the league of legends championship series in 2018. So gaming viewership is near that of the super bowl.

Where can you play?

Arenas. We have arena now in every major city and more are being built. They are huge in other countries but they are coming or here in America!

School. Yep high schools and colleges are forming teams. In fact, you can get a college scholarship for gaming.

What about salary or money?

Top gamers are making 1-4 million dollars per year in salary/winnings. This does not include sponsorship/streaming money o any type of earnings like the supplements given to the top gamers like panax ginseng which helps them to achieve the best in their general health.

DanTDM, a top gaming streamer is estimated to be worth 45 million. So streaming/sponsorships can add significant $$$.

Ninja, a pro fortnite player was paid $1 million dollars to play a new game, Apex Legends, for a ‘few hours’, on release day.

So the money is there.

eSports are growing. Do you play or watch? I do.

What can you learn from games anyway?

I love video games and I love the lessons that they can teach to kids. So what can we learn? Well obviously a game geared towards math can teach a kid math but that is not what this post is focusing on. What I want to focus on are the FIVE MAJOR skills that you can learn when playing video games such as League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft (keep in mind that not all games do these things so you need to be selective):

  1. You will lose. You cannot always win and games teach you that you will lose. I believe this is great because in today’s watered down culture we give kids trophies for trying in addition to winning. Games do not work that way. You only get the prize if you win. This is an important lesson that needs to be fully understood by kids so they know that they need to work hard to win in life.
  2. Problem solving. You will learn to problem solve. You don’t like losing? Guess what, you need to keep playing and practicing to get better just like real life.
  3. Teamwork. This is a skill that kids learn in sports, it’s super important in things like escape the room west chester because you won’t manage to get out without teamwork. You cannot win a game by yourself. However, not all kids play sports. If a kid does not play sports I would definitely make sure they learn teamwork from a very young age and multiplayer games are a great way to accomplish this.
  4. Communication. You have to communicate with your team virtual in games. This is a great skill as many jobs are now virtual and you need to communicate with team mates, a boss, and clients in a virtual environment. You will learn how to greet, sign on/off, and online speak in general.
  5. Your imagination is the limit. Games like minecraft allow you to build and construct. Literally your imagination is the limit. This teaches kids to invent and create things that are not there. This thinking outside of the box is a skill that managers want and a skill that innovators like Bill Gates have. If you are passionate about gaming, this streaming setup will be a perfect guide for you.

League of Legends in the classroom?

lol

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of League of Legends. Its a game I play several times a week, if not more. Lately, I have been seeing LoL clubs forming on campuses (there is one at UNCW) and courses about this game. So can this game be used in k-16 education and how?

Can it be used?

It’s definitely a game that could be used in middle grades and up. However, there is not content in the game. Its a MOBA (Massive online battle arena) game where two teams face off to capture a base. But it could be used to teach skills. If you are unfamiliar with the game, think of it like a virtual game of capture the flag. But to answer the question, I absolutely believe a game like this can be used in middle, high, and college grades. But how? For what? and Why?

What?

It would be used to teach skills – teamwork, communication, and problem solving strategies. The game is set up to be played 3v3 or 5v5 so students would need to learn to work together on a team, fulfilling various roles, in order to win the game. You have to work together or you lose. You also need to communicate. This includes chat, voice, and signs (pings). You would need to learn to play the game, read the chat box/type in it, and talk at the same time. Additionally you need to learn strategies, which include solving problems that may change throughout the game. This is a skill that could be taken into corporate settings. Its a skill I have trouble teaching my graduate students so the fact that this game (or similar) can teach it is very helpful. In this way, the game is like real life – you work on a team, you communicate well, and you form a strategy to win. If you do not do it well or not as good as the other team, you lose. And you can keep trying until you do figure it out.

How?

First you would need the game, which is free, computers, and internet. You would also need microphones. Additionally, you would need to make sure students played custom games. You would not want them playing with strangers because when there is a game with millions of players, there are people who will swear and do other things like causing you to lose on purpose (called trolling). Thus custom games would be a must. So you would need either 6 or 10 people to play each game.

Why?

One simple reason – motivation. The game is fun. Why not play a game like this instead of doing another reading case study where students might learn these skills? My philosophy is that I should be making learning as fun as possible so it doesn’t feel like school. I want learning to be fun. I also want students to take learning seriously and if they could take this game seriously then the learning part would come naturally.

 

 

How I replaced Blackboard with 3D Gamelab

In today’s college classroom the LMS is commonly used to manage, track, and facilitate the learning process for both face to face and online learning courses. Most colleges currently run the Blackboard LMS, which is a very good LMS that is designed to meet the needs of today’s faculty. However, I personally have found Blackboard to be a bit dull because it’s used so often and I love to experiment with new things. So I learned about a new LMS called 3D Gamelab which was designed to function like a gamified LMS. Obviously given my interest in games and the fact that I teach a gaming course I was intrigued to find out more. So I got a copy and tested it for 3 semesters. I tested it in 5 courses during the Summer 14-Spring 15 semesters for my Instructional Technology graduate students.

What is it? 3D Gamelab is an LMS that is geared towards gamers. It functions just like blackboard and others but has some different features. For instance, badges, awards, and experience. There are no grades in 3D Gamelab. There is experience. So students rank up levels and earn experience as they complete assignments. This experience is then translated into your grade.

Assignments. Assignments are called quests. So each time a user logs into your course they see the quests that they need to complete. These can be big assignments – like here is your final project or small tasks like a quest asking users if they read the readings for the day. I found using it to have students confirm that they read the syllabus and such to be very valuable (something other LMSs do not really allow you to do).

Badges, awards, achievements. You can set up badges, awards, and achievements in the LMS. Badges are for skills that the students acquire, awards are awards for completing assignments and such, and achievements are for completing tasks. Technically all 3 can be used for the same thing if you wanted. I assign badges for skills such as being a beginner in HTML. These badges can then be transferred to the users Mozilla Backpack, which is awesome. I use the awards and achievements for things like completing an assignment, earning a rank, etc.

Grading. This is something that is both good and bad. It’s great because when I log in I can see what needs to be graded and students can see where they rank compared to the rest of the class. Also if students did not get a 100% on my assignment I return it to them and they will need to recomplete it for credit. The disadvantage is that you can’t give grades other than perfect. So if they got an 80% the only option is to send it back to the student to redo until they get a 100%. This is how games work which is why its set up like this however this makes it difficult for instructors. This works fine for my graduate classes which are project based and I rarely have students that do not get A’s. But this would not work for my undergraduate students who do not turn in perfect work, turn in things late, and do not always get A’s.

Price. It’s relatively inexpensive. The cost is around $100 a year per instructor for all of your classes. So trying it was a no brainer.

Usability. In my opinion is very simple to use and set up. However, I am a ‘techie’. I noticed that my older students tended to have trouble navigating and always seemed to ask me for help. This is not something I experienced with Blackboard but I did with 3D Gamelab. I think if the company offered a really good interactive tutorial that this problem would be solved. My younger graduate students had no issues.

Student reactions. My students loved it. They really liked it. There were a few glitches here and there but overall it was a good experience. They really like the badges and loved the experience/ranks/quests. The comments in their reflections were that it was different and was fun to use. However, they also noted that while they really liked this they thought that if it was used by the university for all of their classes they would probably lose interest quickly and just think it’s dull like they believe Blackboard is.

My recommendation. Try it out. It’s a lot of fun. It’s different. Your students will like it. It’s worth the money.

How will I use it in the future? I have decided that I will use it for two of my courses – gaming and project management. Both of these courses are set up as competition/gamified courses so it will work well. I am going to use blackboard for my other courses as I want to mix things up and I don’t want my students getting sick or tired of any technology in my classes. So variation is best.