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Christina Kelly
Gotta love gaming.
Gotta love gaming.

Christina's posts

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Hi all! I've played a bunch of this bomberman-style game created by my friend +Jimb Esser, and it's finally out on steam. Imagine dropping bombs on 10 (or many more) of your best friends all in a room together - it's basically the most fun thing ever. Also only $7. Check it out!

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StarCraft II eSports Update - Sad Times for Korea?

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.

I found this ESPN esports article to be particularly interesting and compelling because of my longtime involvement and passion for the StarCraft scene (Brood War and SC2): Basically, starting this year, Blizzard (the developer of StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and other games) is taking a much more active role in engineering the balance of StarCraft regional scenes; the upshot is that while the new StarCraft World Championship Series structure and rules will do a ton to foster "foreigner" (meaning "non-Korean") talent, it'll effectively put a damper on the Korean scene and make it much harder for mid- and low-tier StarCraft players to make a living and get to the point where they break into the top. The article also compares recent developments in the StarCraft II Korean talent pool vs. what was going on when the game first game out, which is a really cool bit of research.

I, like many people in the scene, am deeply ambivalent about this (see On the one hand, giving non-Korean players a lot of chances to compete (there will be at least 11 foreign-only tournaments this year compared to 3 last year) will accelerate the growth of StarCraft pro scenes around the world, meaning greater penetration into markets that aren't super into SC2 eSports right now. Korea is basically StarCraft-saturated, so Blizzard has to find other regions to develop in order to keep the scene from plateauing. More "homegrown" heroes also means more investment and interest from foreign spectators who might not feel as strong of a connection to a Korean player as they would someone from their own country. This move could create the regional diversity in StarCraft's scene that propels it to even greater heights as an international eSport, keeping its growth apace with that of, say, DotA 2 or League of Legends.

On the other hand, Korea makes the game exciting and is the undisputed leader in gameplay innovation, not to mention its unique role as the cradle of professional StarCraft and eSports in general. With fewer opportunities for Korean SC players to compete on a global stage, and the explosive growth of games like League of Legends (which became Korea's most popular game in 2012:, plus the fact that Brood War is still alive and kicking there, StarCraft II as a whole risks a talent diaspora as players who can't crack the top tiers flock to games that have more opportunities for them. That could cause a significant trickle-down effect to the rest of the world, spiritually, as the breakneck speed of innovation slows (whether it's perceived or real) - it's already a meme in the eSports community that StarCraft is "[a] ded gaem" (dead game: That would be extremely tragic.

We'll see what happens!

#esports #starcraft #espn

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Last day to back crowdfunded Heroes of the Storm live tournament Jan 8-10

There's 9 hours left to back Heroes Rising, the first major eSports event for Blizzard Entertainment's MOBA (mutiplayer online battle arena) game Heroes of the Storm in 2016, which is also unique because a large portion of the prize pool and other event costs are crowdfunded. The community aspect of this event and of HotS as an eSport in general is very important because this is the first competitive Blizzard game that has been considered an eSport from the get-go, unlike StarCraft, WarCraft, Hearthstone and WoW, which became eSports after their release. Blizzard is investing huge amounts of resources into engaging with their games' eSports communities and monitoring their evolution to influence its own plans/support for each scene; having significant community support for a tournament like this one sends a strong message to Blizzard that the nascent HotS scene is already gathering grassroots momentum and is worth further investment.

The event will take place at North America's first dedicated eSports facility, the eSports Arena, in Santa Ana, CA, on Jan 8-10, and will also be broadcast on The lineup includes well known invited teams such as Cloud9 and Tempo Storm, as well as up-and-coming teams who won their spots through open qualifiers.

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

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: The finals of the Championship, Lounge Gaming vs. OpTic Gaming, will be broadcast on FACEIT's Twitch channel:

CS: GO had a pretty great year in 2015, with the August ESL One: Cologne tournament drawing over 27M unique viewers with 1.3M peak concurrent viewers. Valve, the developer of CS: GO, typically sponsors several events known as the Majors during the year, each with a $250K prize pool, and those tend to be the biggest events. However, in 2015 there were multiple events with comparable prize pools that weren't Valve-sponsored (in addition to many smaller events) - the first year in the CS: GO eSports scene's history for which this has been the case. It's looking like 2016 is going to be an amazing year for CS: GO, especially since Turner isn't looking to lock in players and teams into any kind of exclusivity. Let a thousand frags bloom!

This is fascinating for me because it seems like it's finally time to get eSports on US television in a consistent way - not because it desperately needs legitimacy in terms of viewership or money, but because it's established enough online that the television audience truly represents a new frontier. Back in 2007-2008, there was a league called the Championship Gaming Series which was owned and operated by DirecTV, but that was back when eSports needed more exposure overall to really explode in growth. The CGS folded, most likely due to M&A activity with DirecTV, but ascendant digital video platforms like Twitch provided a more likeminded medium for eSports to grow. In 2015 there were a few one-off events that were televised, like the Heroes of the Dorm tournament championships on ESPN2 featuring the Blizzard game Heroes of the Storm, but nothing like a league with 10-week seasons.

TBS is apparently starting off with CS: GO because it's a first person shooter with a very established and growing fan base - FPS games tend to be easier to get into right off the bat as far as spectatorship goes, unlike, say, a complex RTS game like StarCraft II. That being said, StarCraft has been televised in Korea for more than a decade, so the idea of televising a video game with more involved game mechanics isn't unheard of. I'm really interested in seeing whether TBS decides to follow up its CS: GO initial foray with a game like League of Legends, whose World Championship this past Oct had 36M viewers online and sold out the 17K seats in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.

If you're particularly interested in the CS: GO scene and what's to come for 2016, check out this great article on TeamLiquid:

#esports #videogames #counterstrike

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I backed this kickstarter because it's so cool from a physics perspective.  I might work on it for Burning Man, too. +D J Capelis

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Osmos Multiplayer Throwdown

Oh damn.  Anyone out there want to challenge Darryn for $20 in Google Play credit?  Osmos is a super amazing beautiful fun game - only $3 for tons of content and replayability.  They were also one of the very first to implement multiplayer using Google Play Game Services back in 2013 (I would know, because I was the PM on the Android version).

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Congrats +Kenton Varda!  Nice discussion of raising money in a grassroots way on your announcement blog post.

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iOS Dev Workshop for Women in SF 12/13

My super awesome coworker and friend +Glenna Buford is involved in organizing an iOS development workshop for women on 12/13 in SF - sign up if you're interested!

Note: This event is specifically aimed at women, but "men are welcome to come if you find a woman who wants to learn iOS Development and come together."

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My coworker's friend has a #kickstarter  for a fascinating game called No Pineapple Left Behind, a satirical desktop indie game that puts the player in charge of a de-unionized charter school.

One day, an evil wizard shows up to a school and turns all of the children into pineapples. Pineapples are very simple. All they do is take tests and get grades. If they get good grades, the school gets more money. But if left unattended, pineapples can turn back into children! Children are way more complicated, and have needs and feelings. They are much harder to deal with. You are the principal. Your job is to run the school.

I love the bit in the video about how the game's visual design and music are deliberately very Soviet-feeling.  Excellent concept.

Only 45 hours left, so kick in if you think it's interesting!

#indiegames   #education  

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My Sister's EP Launched!

Hey everybody - my sister Grace Kelly's EP, Working for the Dreamers is out now on Google and iTunes!  Check it out on Google Music at, or on iTunes at

This is my sister's 9th released recording (10 if you count the single), and at $4.95 for 5 songs, it's a really neat little package of smooth, soulful melodies representing her New Sound.  She's historically taken a very straight-ahead jazz sort of path in her recordings, but this EP is all about fusion.  Hope you enjoy it!
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