Celebrate Our 33rd Anniversary With An All-New Christina Kelly Adventure In South Korea!

Thirty-three years ago today, our founders launched the global brand now known as Christina Kelly to great acclaim, and our mission since then has been to create uniquely compelling interactive storytelling experiences that inspire community and critical thinking in our playerbase. In honor of this milestone, we’re announcing our most ambitious content patch yet – Seoul: One-Way Ticket.

We know our fans love the epic international adventure packs we’ve been releasing in recent years, including Costa Rica: The Search For Sloths in 2018 and South Korea: An (Overwatch) League Of Their Own in 2017. We heard your requests for a more open-world experience that relies on deep mechanics and relationships rather than a main narrative, and our design team has been working around the clock to create an interactive tale that delivers on all of this and more.

Seoul: One-Way Ticket will be deployed to the test server tomorrow, June 11th, and all servers will be offline for about 24-36 hours. After that, there will be a 14-day “quarantine” period (closed beta), following which, if all goes well, the patch will be live on production. Exciting new features include:

  • No end date: For the first time in Christina Kelly brand history, this international adventure chapter will launch without a confirmed end date for the ultimate open-ended, immersive gameplay experience.
  • All-new healthcare system: After much internal debate, we decided that the COVID-19 patch needed rebalancing. S:OWT has a revamped healthcare system that, on balance, should significantly improve individual life expectancy during the pandemic arc.
  • New social and environmental interactions: S:OWT will use the full game engine and not a limited version, unlocking new activities and depths of friendship with recurring characters while introducing a whole new cast and remastered, ultra-high-fidelity maps.
  • New optional missions: There are no required missions in S:OWT aside from Tutorial/Getting Started and a few holdover transition quests. Our new open-world system means that players can optionally pursue major storylines that provide the same legendary tier of rewards as featured previously in required missions.
    • New S:OWT esports-themed missions will satisfy even the most hardcore fan.
    • We are reintroducing the venerable Korean Language Fluency mission, for the fourth time, but with dramatically increased experience boosts, updated learning interfaces, and better intermediate and completion rewards.
  • New lifestyle content: Expansive fashion options paired with an updated tailoring engine mean tons of cute clothes and accessories – that totally fit! As “more authentic Korean/Asian food” has been the #1 food-related community request for some time, we’re also overhauling the entire culinary menu system accordingly (Design Note: we warned you).
  • And much, much more!

Core Christina Kelly content will never be paywalled, and this remains true for our most ambitious expansion ever. For those who want to demonstrate their support for the development team financially, we are officially announcing the Birthday Quarantine Compendium, hosted on Facebook, which will run for 7 days starting on June 10 and aims to raise USD$1400 towards closed beta expenses (Lore Note: the scenario is a mandatory 14-day stay at ~$100/day, courtesy of the Korean government). Again, participating in the Compendium is purely a sign of support and not participating does not affect future core content access.

That’s all for now – thank you to all of our fans, old and new, for their feedback and enthusiasm as we undertake this grand adventure together. Remember to stay safe, stay savvy, and have fun.

Why Aikido is Great for Women

[This article was originally published on Aikido Journal in September of 2019.]

Christina Kelly is an editor for Aikido Journal and has practiced aikido for about a year, currently holding the rank of fourth kyu. She is a professional writer and editor specializing in video games and esports, and has previously worked in editorial at Blizzard Entertainment and ESPN Esports. Her last editorial on AJ was titled “Why the World Needs Aikido, A Millennial’s Perspective.” This editorial was written for a general audience who may not be familiar with aikido.


I’m a woman who has had a lot of experience in female-dominated activities (certain types of dance), male-dominated activities (video games), and roughly gender-equivalent activities (music) throughout my life. I started learning aikido about a year ago, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a substantial number of women practicing at my dojo, even if, overall, men were still the majority. As I dove deeper into aikido’s techniques and practices, I realized that it’s a discipline that offers benefits that are very helpful for women and it’s also an art where women have advantageous traits.

In this article, I’d like to lay out these benefits and advantageous traits as I see them, so that women have a better understanding of the way practicing aikido can help them achieve their goals. Nothing in this article is intended to judge women or men as a group – or their activities of choice – as good or bad, worse or better. The idea is to acknowledge and address the challenges women face, the skills or experiences that women value, and the various characteristics that gender brings to the table. Much of the information in this article could also be useful to men and gender nonbinary or gender nonconforming individuals as well. Now then, let’s get started.

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The Calm Before the Storm

[I wrote this after attending the tournament The Big House 8 in a response to a writing prompt from my friend asking for 500 words “on the relative peace and serenity that precedes a turbulent maelstrom of activity.”]

When people think about “the calm before the storm” in a traditional sense, it brings to mind hunkering down in a clapboard house with boarded up windows and flashlights and canned food, waiting for the nor’easter or hurricane to wreak havoc on power lines and traffic signs. The storm is an external elemental force, unknowable and unpredictable, an uncaring outburst from the whims of mother nature, which must be handled with caution and stern fortitude on the part of human beings. In esports, there is no external chaos, because the storm comes from within.

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Building Emotional Resilience Through Cat Videos

[This article was originally published on Medium on July 24, 2018.]

Let’s say you woke up today and spent a little extra time — maybe 10 minutes — doing something with your hair, just to mix it up a little. Gel, mousse, wax, hairspray, blow-drying, straightening, curling, whatever. You go through your day and run into that person who you think is pretty cute and want to impress. They take one look at you and screw up their face into a dismayed expression: “Uh, what happened to your hair?”

Depending on your mood and self-esteem, you might respond in one of several ways:

  • A. Laugh it off — “Yeah, haha, guess I went overboard with the gel this morning.”
  • B. Stammer and run away — “Ummmm … SEEYOULATER!”
  • C. Fake it and slink away — “Heh, yeah, guess I … forgot to blow dry … gotta go now … ”
  • D. Ain’t no thang — “Oh, you know, just something I’m trying out. What do you think?”

Each response has psychological consequences that interact with a concept named “emotional resilience.”

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WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show

Today I was a featured guest on WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show out of Connecticut for their esports episode. I talked about the origins of pro esports in South Korea, StarCraft at the Pyeongchang Olympics, diversity and inclusivity in the Super Smash Bros. Melee competitive community, matchfixing in esports, sports investment in the Overwatch League, and more. I spoke alongside T.L. Taylor (MIT & AnyKey) and Michael Brooks (National Association of Collegiate Esports). Check it out!

Why the World Needs Aikido, A Millennial’s Perspective

[This article was originally published in the Aikido Journal in January 2018.]

We are in the middle of a very interesting time in human history. It’s true that violence overall has declined massively from the days of human sacrifice and laws that enshrined dueling to the death as a legitimate way to resolve grievances. However, we still find ourselves in a world where it seems harder and harder to communicate and collaborate with people who don’t share our views, and where people can still become victims through no fault of their own via terrorist attacks or bombs that were not carefully deployed in wars.

The human race desperately needs a philosophy that can teach us empathy for each other and demonstrates that even adversaries can work together for a greater good. In other words, it’s the perfect time for aikido to shine.

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Full circle: The whirlwind journey of Jaedong

[This article was originally published on ESPN.com/esports on January 12, 2017.]

The year is 2008, and the world is suddenly not what it was.

You are in Seoul, South Korea, in a small television studio, giggling teens play hooky on a weekday afternoon. There’s a stage a few feet in front of them with a TV desk framed by two glass-enclosed booths, each large enough to fit a single person sitting down.

The house lights dim, the cameras start rolling, the announcers take their places at the desk, and two quiet-looking young men in racing-style jerseys enter each booth after shaking hands. An enormous screen above the stage comes to life.

The screen shows scenes of an alien landscape, but to those in attendance, it is as familiar as a map of their own neighborhood. It’s StarCraft, a popular computer game that has entertained players for years across the world. But here, those who came to fill the studio’s stands are not playing right now – they’re watching. And the intense faces of the men on stage clearly show that this is not just for fun.

For a first-time observer, the experience would be akin to a casual pickup basketball player watching an NBA game for the first time and being treated to Kobe Bryant or LeBron James’ mastery of the ball and the court. Teens gasp and cheer as the announcers in suits shout unabashedly as if calling the blow-by-blow of a title fight.

They won’t believe you back at home. But that’s OK, because you’ve just seen the future, and it’s going to be the coolest thing ever.

Continue reading “Full circle: The whirlwind journey of Jaedong”

Google’s DeepMind AI takes on StarCraft II

[This article was originally published on ESPN.com/esports on Nov 27, 2016.]

It’s match point at the grand finals of a huge StarCraft II tournament. One player booth contains a professional Zerg player complete with massive headphones and stoic concentration. The other booth is … empty. After Zerg wins in the late game with an unexpected tech switch to infestor/broodlord, the crowd goes wild. The pro player comes out on stage and accepts a huge trophy. They are proud not only of winning, but of dealing a blow to their opponent the likes of which could contribute to technology benefiting millions of people worldwide.

At BlizzCon earlier this month in Anaheim, California, Blizzard announced an ambitious new project in collaboration with DeepMind, a leading artificial intelligence research company acquired by Google in 2014. After creating the AlphaGo AI that bested the world’s top Go player earlier this year, DeepMind’s next groundbreaking challenge will be StarCraft II. If DeepMind is able to build an AI that could learn how to beat top players such as Byun “ByuN” Hyun Woo in the complex real-time strategy, tactics and resource management of this game, it would be a giant step forward in AI research. And with DeepMind’s interest in using its research to solve hard problems in areas such as healthcareand energy efficiency on a massive scale, this Starcraft II project could impact the whole world.

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Why I Root for Smash: Reflections on Genesis 3 and the Smash Community

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Genesis 3: The crowd gets to its feet at the climactic conclusion of one of the Melee top 8 games.

Sitting in the audience at the San Jose Civic Center on the last day of Genesis 3, I could feel the crowd settling down a bit after watching a nail-biting best of five between C9.Mango and Liquid`Hungrybox in the losers bracket finals (or “alternative bracket to success finals”) of melee singles.  A fellow behind me suddenly yelled, “Get f*cked, Hungrybox!”  I wasn’t sure how to react, but before I could decide, the person next to me turned around in his seat to face the guy who yelled.  “That wasn’t very nice,” he commented, firmly but not antagonistically.  “Yeah,” I bandwagoned, turning around slightly myself.  And … that was it.  There was no argument about who was right, no defensiveness or insults, no protests about whether or not Hungrybox deserved it.  The yeller accepted the rebuke and didn’t do it again.

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Humanity in eSports: Fnatic’s Novel Approach

[Posted on Medium and TeamLiquid]

What’s the magic formula for creating a winning eSports team for team games like MOBAs and some FPSes? If you go by season preview articles or “meet the team” video interviews that pop up around large tournaments, the recipe sounds pretty similar for everyone: you win at the game by optimizing the way the players, individually and as a group, interact with the game.

The thing is, if all of these teams are basically approaching this question in the same way, then tournaments might as well be a craps shoot (or go to the team that has the most money to pay top players). How do organizations like Dignitas, Team Liquid, Na`Vi, Fnatic, or Team Vitality find the edge that distinguishes them and translates into consistently stellar track records?

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Fnatic’s new League of Legends roster. Source: Fnatic.com.

Continue reading “Humanity in eSports: Fnatic’s Novel Approach”