Local Esports Gaming Hubs!

Esports

by Semra Zamurad

As an avid gamer myself, I was drawn to the Esports Cyberathlete Development (ECD) co-design group’s mission: to gain a better understanding of how gaming supports positive social and cognitive growth in cyberathletes. My educational background is rooted in psychology and I am interested in how technology can be used to benefit psychological background and research. To learn more about this, I am lending my expertise in studying human behavior from a biopsychosocial standpoint to the efforts of the ECD team.

As we move forward on our academic journey, we have discovered the necessity of operationally defining the behaviors we seek to understand and making sure that those definitions remain consistent across raters. To operationally define a behavior essentially means to define a behavior in a specific, concrete, and measurable way. This is especially important when more than one researcher will be taking part in an observation. For example, if we were looking for signs of exhaustion, one observer may consider rubbing eyes to be a sign of exhaustion while another observer does not. High levels of inter-rater reliability (referring to how similar the data collection is between the observers) are imperative to the success of study that has key qualitative components. As such, I was tasked with looking into places that the ECD co-design group could practice observing gamers in their natural environment, as well as compiling a list of non-academic resources members could use to supplement their general knowledge of gaming culture.

The following list refers to several locations within the DFW complex that offer gamers and those interested in learning more about Esports a site to gather at and to take part in the experience there.

  • EZ Gaming Café
    • Vibe: minimalistic; snacks and drinks offered from deep freezer, metal shelves
      • Hosts local tournaments
      • Offers PC gaming and consoles (Nintendo Switch, PS4)
  • Nerdvana
    • Vibe: “Games with your coffee” kind of place; café/bar first, with games you can play while eating/drinking
      • Café and board games
      • Bar and videogames
      • Free to play with minimum $10/person purchase
  • Geekletes
    • Vibe: grassroots Esports competitions that serves as a training ground for aspiring gamers
      • Host local tournaments
      • Provide courses on how to navigate and excel in the industry
      • Recruiting and exposure
  • Java Gaming Café
    • Vibe: minimalistic but luxurious
      • Serves drinks to players at their PCs
      • Two floors
      • Hosts local tournaments
      • Offers PC gaming and consoles (PS4, Wii U, Xbox One)
  • PLAYlive Nation at Stonebriar Centre
    • Vibe: social gaming lounge housed in Frisco, powered by Simplicity Esports (merged); high-tech aesthetic (blue neon lights, generally dark, leather seating)
      • Specializes in Xbox One and popular table games (e.g., Magic the Gathering)
      • Offers VR gaming
  • AK PC Gaming Café
    • Vibe: similar look to an office building; identifies as an Internet café
      • PC gaming, web browsing, workstation
      • Offers food and drinks (snacks, soft drinks, coffee, fries)
  • Esports Stadium Arlington Gaming Center
    • Vibe: largest dedicated Esports facility in North America
      • Offers PC gaming and consoles (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One)
        • Must bring your own controllers and headsets, or rent some from them
      • Hosts local tournaments
      • Offers food, drinks, and merchandise

However, simply being aware of the existence of these places may prove to be insufficient in supplementing our comprehension of gaming culture even if we were to visit. In order to effectively supplement our collective knowledge on Esports and gaming in general, I also put together a list of non-academic resources that are easily accessible and may explain cultural concepts in a simpler fashion. This list includes apps, attractions, and movies to gain a better understanding of Esports’ evolution.

  • WEBTOON: No Scope by ZOYANG
    • A webcomic about a fictional Esports game called PSI BOND and high school players attempting to become pro players
    • Gives insight into player housing, recruiting, team building, basic aspects of Esports, women in Esports, Esports in Korea
  • WEBTOON: Let’s Play by Mongie
    • A webcomic about a game developer whose game is given a bad review by an Internet celebrity (“lets-player”).
    • Gives insight into different types of games and gamers, impact of a gaming-centered career on mental and physical health, skills necessary to excel in a gaming-centered career (mainly game development)

  • BBC documentary: The Supergamers/Rise of the Supergamer
    • Looks into the lives of select teams and players as they train, live together, and learn to play together, striving for the common goal of making it big as a cyberathlete
Preview

  • Netflix documentary: League of Legends Origins
    • Details the rise of the popular MMOBA game League of Legends, its start as a free demo to an Esport game
Trailer

If you or someone you know enjoys visiting any of the aforementioned gaming points or is aware of more non-academic resources that can help explain gaming culture, please feel free to contact the Esports Co-Design Group Project Manager, Lauren Bernal, at Lauren.Bernal@UTDallas.edu.

Franklin Osuagwu transitions out of role of Lab Coordinator

Franklin Osuagwu’s timeline as Lab Coordinator at the ArtSciLab.

Franklin Osuagwu started working at the ArtSciLab in June 2019. After the exit of Kyle, he came in as the new Lab Coordinator. While working at the lab, his major duties were organizing the MOWG meetings, organizing the weekly watering hole events, and finally creating a cybersecurity plan for the Lab. As he steps ahead in his career path moving forward, he conducts a final interview with Alex Topete on his experience and next moves.

What was his first Introduction to the ArtSciLab?

Franklin initially had no prior knowledge about the Lab. Being an electrical engineering major, he had no information about activities going on in ATEC, least of all, the Watering Hole. He found about the lab through the lab coordinator job posting on Handshake last summer.

How did Franklin rate his experience at the ArtSciLab?

Franklin loved his time at the ArtSciLab. He always found a chance to speak about how Roger and the rest of his coworkers were. He was able to make new valuable and professional connections. One thing he mentioned he loved mostly the lab was that it also served as his new “chilling spot” in between his classes.

Is there any new skill that Franklin picked up through his experience?

Franklin indicated that his management skills were on an all time high. His constant interaction with people in the lab helped him know how to manage and deal with people in an ideal work environment.

Difficulties while working at the Lab?

Franklin mentioned that one of his major issues was communication. In terms of people responding to emails on timely manner. He further mentioned that he would have loved a better attendance of lab events by its members, more especially the Watering Hole held weekly.

Where is he heading next?

Franklin is currently working as an IT intern at Epsilon. His internship is expected to run from January till December when he graduates. He will still maintain relationships with the Lab, serving as a Lab ambassador.

His final note his former teammates and coworkers are “Be sure to catch me at future watering holes.”

UTD ARTSCILAB Lab Ambassador Appointed to enable ArtSci connections Abroad

February 2020, the University of Texas at Dallas ArtSciLab appoints Jacob Hunwick as Lab Ambassador for the duration of his study abroad program in Germany. He starts at Phillips University Marburg on February the 18th and finishes on June the 12th. In addition, lab director Roger Malina appoints Jacob as an intern representative for the Leonardo Journal in Europe. 

Jacob will work to research, discover and document exemplars of art-science and well-being. Through his studies in ATEC at UT Dallas, Jacob has found a passion for technologies that prioritize the preservation and promotion of healthy habits and lifestyles. 

Through his weekly blog posts, he will report on interviews, events, and interactions with new organizations and people related to technologies that prioritize human health. 

The following is a summary of his research interests that he will pursue and write about in his weekly blog.

Research Goal for Lab Ambassador Position

Ideally, interaction designers want interfaces designed for everyday use to develop into healthy habits. Unfortunately, screen-based interfaces and modern city infrastructure trends promote sedentary habits.  

Infinitely scrolling pages and endless content tunnels enable users to over-dose on screen-time. Common use of screens for education, entertainment, and leisure time encourage people to abandon physical activity. And lastly, American city infrastructures discourage walking with a hyper focus on the automobile. 

Through my research, I seek interfaces with modern technology that improve human well-being. I seek infrastructure that empowers us to rely on our legs, not motors, to travel and navigate urban environments. I seek products that involve motion and break through the 2-dimensional touch screen barrier. I seek educational tools that encourage children to learn through active motion and participation rather than passive consumption.  

Through the theories of embodied cognition, designers know that external objects can influence our cognitive processes. Now, the field of interaction design has realized the power that designed objects and experiences has over how we understand the world. While abroad, I will search for and document exemplars of health-conscious technologies that use the theories of embodied cognition to build healthy habits. 

To those interested in my research goal contact me via email at jmh170830@utdallas.edu. I look forward to traveling all around Europe in pursuit of my mission. 

-Jacob Hunwick 

ArtSci Abroad logo created by Jacob Hunwick.

A Spoken Word on Life and Death

Dr. James L. Carter, geoscientist, and associate professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Dallas, passed away on September 21, 2019, in his home at the age of 82. To honor James Carter, ArtSciLab member Ayen Deng has written and performed a spoken word poem in memory of the way he inspired all those who attended his last lecture on September 20, 2019. The slides in this video are from his lecture to accompany the performance.


A Review of Virtual Menageries: Animals as Mediators in Network Cultures

by Michael Warner

Virtual Menageries puts us back in time amongst the collective elites. Berland forms a cohesive genealogy of the “menagerie” to encourage, challenge, and deconstruct our modern perception of non-human animals and their relationship to human meaning and existence. Virtual Menageries looks through the lens of mediation to draw affective and emotional weight to animals as symbolic messengers in the digital era. From the giraffe, to the beaver, virtual art, digital communications, cats, birds and music Berland maps out how animals have become not only the mediators that bridge worlds together for good, but also as the trafficked subjects of terror: tools made to control, methods for silencing, opportunities to proliferate a message, and catalysts in profiteering.
 
The book begins with a question that led to a series of other questions: “Why are there so many cats on the internet?” (Pg. 1) Which then led to thoughts about the roles of animals as symbols and figures in contexts. “How do animals help manage our perception of the Anthropocene? How do they disrupt our own relationship with digital technologies if they are so abundantly apart of them? If they are mediating in new ways, what content are they mediating, and in what context?” (Pg. 1) These are all questions that threw the book and Berland’s project into fruition.    

To read the full review: