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.

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StarCraft II eSports Update – Sad Times for Korea?

[Posted here 1/21/16: https://plus.google.com/+ChristinaKelly/posts/5MagZTF5qYF]

TL; DR – This year might be the beginning of the end of StarCraft as a dominant eSports scene, or it could lead to a thousand pylons blooming all over the world as the Korean juggernaut is reined in. Maybe both. It’ll be an exciting year.

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TBS’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Championship and Televised League

[From 1/6/16: https://plus.google.com/+ChristinaKelly/posts/CrQ5UnqKpLC]

Tomorrow, at CES in Las Vegas, Turner Sports and WME/IMG will be hosting a $50K Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Championship. It’s not a bad chunk of change for the teams that battled their way from a pool of 1,100 in the qualifiers in Dec 2015 (although it’s a far cry from the prize pools in top-tier professional DotA and League of Legends tournaments), but the more exciting part of the championship is the opportunity to take part in TBS’s brand new televised CS: GO tournament. There will be two 10-week tournaments in 2016 in what TBS is calling the ELeague, with a combined prize pool of $2.4M. Tournament content will be mostly available online but some will be televised as well. Check out more details here: http://fortune.com/2015/12/17/turner-esports-ces-2016/. The finals of the Championship, Lounge Gaming vs. OpTic Gaming, will be broadcast on FACEIT’s Twitch channel: http://www.twitch.tv/faceittv.

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Why I Love Software Engineers (Yet Will Never Be One)

[Originally posted on Google+ on Dec 21, 2011]

Lisp. Perl. Haskell. Ruby. Fortran. C. JavaScript. These are beautiful words. It’s a little weird for me to admit this out loud, but sometimes I run through a little list like this in my head just to savor the way each one of them sounds in my mind’s voice, kind of like a 15 year old who’s just gotten her braces off and runs her tongue over her newly smooth and aligned teeth. They are beautiful not just phonetically, i.e. in the way “cellar door” sounds beautiful, but also (and mostly) because they are names for very special things. They are names of programming languages, and as such they stand for microcosms of peculiar depth and perspective. These words have personality and passion, but also a sort of purity that is not often seen in the creations of mankind. They represent the effort to project a logical but human order upon the unholy chaos of information in the world – to discipline the unruly mind and hone it into a tool that can create itself and improve upon itself through language.

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Storytelling in Games – How to Do It Right

[Originally posted on Google+.]

Today I had the pleasure of attending a talk by +Kent Hudson, a game designer at LucasArts, who spoke about design-driven storytelling in games (note: slides can be found at http://www.onethree.org/talks).

My philosophy on storytelling in general is that it is a crucial, hardwired part of the human experience. Human beings have a fundamental need to tell stories, hear stories, and, perhaps most importantly, create stories. The ability to construct a narrative out of the chaos of the world is part of what keeps our enormous, buzzing brains sane and stable, and is also part of what challenges us to keep putting one foot in front of the other and becoming more than we were before.

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A Day in the Life in Silicon Valley

[Inspired by http://bit.ly/p35h8Y. Originally posted on Google+.]

My alarm clock goes off. Well, it’s not really an alarm clock, because clocks are analog and made of wood and aren’t synched to anything. What wakes me up is something that has a passing visual similarity to an alarm clock, with hands and everything, but it’s a GUI for a program on one of my various devices that checks in with something on the internet that can tell the absolute correct time anywhere with atomic precision, which – let’s face it – is better. Let’s just call it an alarm.

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From Backstage to the Spotlight: Google Employees on Google+

[Some disclaimers and information: I specialize in community management for online games and the company I currently work for recently received a significant investment from Google Ventures. Also, my boyfriend works at Google.]

This article all started with a public Google+ post by Kelly Ellis, a software engineer at Google who works on Google+. She posted a short video update in the morning of July 1st describing some changes that the Google+ team would be making to their product over the long weekend. The leafy, sundappled background behind Ms. Ellis and her professional-yet-relaxed demeanor exemplified the Silicon Valley ease amidst unthinkably advanced technology. It’s like she’s just chatting with you over lunch about the project she’s working on – never mind that it’s the latest brainchild of the most cutting edge software company on Earth. 8 hours later, the video post had 1000 shares and almost 300 comments. Needless to say, a lot of people started following Ellis for future updates on the development of Google+, including me.

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