eBash @ Indy PopCon 2015

Our gaming zone was always busy from 8 AM until late into the night.

Our gaming zone was always busy from 8 AM until late into the night at Indy PopCon 2015.

I am just finishing up 18 straight days of being on the road.  Some of the nights I was able to make it home to sleep in my bed and see the family, but many of them were in hotel rooms.  My wife and I have dubbed this year #Hustle2015 to make sure we work and play as hard as we can all year long and leave nothing on the table.  Looking back over the past 2+ weeks and I think I might be going overboard on that motto.

It has been a little over a month since Indy PopCon 2015 and it feels like it was years ago.  So much of the event is still fresh in my mind however so I wanted to get some of the details recorded here for my own future reference and the benefit of our partners and sponsors.

Here is how our rooms usually look right before we load everything into them and fill them with players shortly after.

Here is how our rooms usually look right before we load everything into them and fill them with players shortly after.

Indy PopCon started in 2014 and it was our very first convention.  It was underwhelming for both the convention owners and for eBash with small attendance numbers but we learned a lot.  I am good friends with the Indy PopCon team now and we can be blunt about that first year because this year things got much better.  Maybe a little too much better?

In 2015 Indy PopCon estimates they had over 23,000 attendees.  This was driven by their genius booking of some big YouTube players such as Markiplier (https://www.youtube.com/user/markiplierGAME) and some of his friends.  It created some new problems such as how to let thousands of fans meet their YouTube heroes when there was only time for half that many to see them, but overall the convention went great for eBash in our gaming zone.

We had 3 rooms just outside the exhibit hall opened up together for about a 5500 square foot giant room with our own entrances to control traffic and stay open late.  We had 1743 players play games in our space and overall nearly 7500 came through our room to participate or watch the events.  Players could choose to play for an hour in the open play zone and play anything they wanted or we ran structured events nearly every hour of the day for the following games:

– League of Legends (PC)
– Hearthstone (PC)
– Heroes of the Storm (PC)
– Super Smash Brothers 4 (Wii U)
– MarioKart 8 (Wii U)
– Racing Simulators
– Minecraft (PC)
– Smite (PC)
– Heroes of Newerth (PC)

Overall set-up in the zone:
– 100 gaming PCs from Alienware
– 4 Wii U stations (16 players)
– 4 Racing Simulators

Here is a link to our photo album from Indy PopCon 2015 on our Facebook page:

The changes for eBash from 2014-2015 with our convention set-up is pretty amazing.  It also feels great to try and put together what we think players will enjoy and then seeing the room full during the convention with happy players.  While we still work on how these events work with our LAN Centers and our new competition software (www.ggCircuit.com) the one thing that I do know is that we seem to be in the right place at exactly the right time and that is VERY exciting.

Summer of 2015 Madness

I am one of those guys that can never say “no” to a project, idea, event or possible sale.  It is not a good thing, as many times I agree for eBash to work really hard for no profit.  However I do like to work hard and I have a pretty nice superstar group of staff around me that stays right with me through these adventures.

Just for my own sanity, I thought I might put a post together of the number of unique events we are doing this summer so that viewers of my blog will know why I haven’t been able to post much lately.  Chronologically our summer (including a few completed events) looks like:

April 30 – Private event at Flat 12 Bierworks for Indy car driver James Hinchcliffe
May 8,9,10 – Angie’s List Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 15,16,17 – Qualifying weekend for the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 23,24 – Race weekend for Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
June 8 – First week of 7 straight weeks of Create and Play Summer Camps, 250+ kids
June 26-28 – Indy PopCon
July 17-19 – Achievement Fest
July 18 – Colby and Cate’s 13th Annual Birthday Bash
July 24,25,26 – Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
July 30,31 – Aug 1,2 – Gen Con
Aug 7,8,9 – Moto GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Keep in mind, these are events and activities that are ABOVE our normal store operations.  On top of that we are ramping up our community managers program and our goal is to have special events at our stores every single weekend.  Just this month we have tournaments for CS GO, Smash and Call of Duty while we are hosting a viewing party for Dota 2 and preparing for a League of Legends tournament.

New ggCircuit Client Releasing in Beta This Week

gg_lgWe are far into the thousands-of-hours in planning, development, programming and managing the new ggCircuit software system.  While ggCircuit has been around nearly 7 years running eSports events at LAN Centers, the concept of software to run everything was first mentioned in January 0f 2014.  Since that time we built the main system for tracking games and stats from scratch, tested it for 6 months in our eBash locations and then brought on 3 test centers last October.  At that point we realized that we had something very special started and we began reaching out to centers for a bigger test and a group of around 10 started in November and December 2014.

The first quarter of 2015 we have carefully grown to 21 locations running the software in the US, Europe, Middle East and Australia.  We have been testing and trying different things while we continue to evaluate the best direction for ggCircuit to be able to serve the majority of centers around the world.  The balance between the economy of the coins earned in the system for casual players and the high-end eSports competitions is not as easy as someone might think.

This week is a big milestone for ggCircuit.  We are releasing the beta of the new ggCircuit client.  In the past, centers joining us required some pretty disruptive changes to their systems to connect.  This has caused some centers that started 4 months ago to still be delayed in the final step of the set-up. With this new client we are crushing nearly every barrier and the start-up process is nearly automated.  Automation is our theme, we want things to happen automatically, regularly and effectively without any extra work or burden for LAN center owners or staff.

Take a look at what the new client is going to solve:

NEW ggCircuit CLIENT

Old Way Without Client

Works with multiple LAN Center (cyber cafe) software packages including Smartlaunch, Cyber Cafe Pro, Antamedia, Cyber Planet and more. Required only the latest version of Smartlaunch
Client automatically discovers the type of database and works with MS Access, MySQL and MS SQL Server Database had to be converted from MS Access default to MySQL
Client communicates through standard web port Required LAN Center to port forward to MySQL database and change firewall settings
Only the applicable data for features being used is transferred to ggCircuit servers online The only option was that the entire LAN Center database was replicated online
Built-in service to monitor and synchronize server time for all global LAN Centers No local synchronization for time on the LAN Center server causing data to be mismatched worldwide

Over the next week we will be moving all of our existing stores to this new client AND the past 30 days of centers waiting to join can get caught up.  April and May are big months for ggCircuit.  My goal was to have 100 locations on the system before the end of 2015 and things are looking like that is an achievable goal!

Why are you in the Video Game LAN Center business?

QandAAs always the inquiries come in from many different places around the world for starting a LAN center.  Sometimes existing centers write to talk about closing their business, expanding it or even selling it.  All of those questions came to me today in an email from a center owner who has been around 10 years and is trying to decide if they should sell to an interested buyer.

I thought it would be a nice idea to share my thoughts on just why it is that we are all in the video game LAN center business.  I had a good friend years ago that told me over-and-over the reason a person should own a business is to someday sell the business.

Here is a list of questions that were posed to me by this owner about the future of our industry and my thoughts on if he should sell or keep running his business.

(Note:  These questions come from a center in another country, so I am answering these with my best knowledge of running a LAN center here in the US)

1. Now a days people started to play games in laptops, moreover college events are running gaming tournament in laptops connected through WiFi networking. Will portable device or laptop can kill the lancenter ?  
To me the future of gaming is perhaps coming in the form of VR devices and other technology even beyond portable devices.  However I have noticed that even games on a mobile phone are more fun when playing with people from our LAN center.  I don’t think that the type of game or the device they are played on will ever change the overall desire for humans to find and interact with other humans interested in something similar.  Gamers that met at eBash 10 years ago who would have never even crossed paths became great friends which started with a common love of gaming.
2. How do you see the evaluation of LAN game center in future ? Will it exist in tomorrows technology? I can see some answers in igames forum but I am not convinced with that answers, may be partially……let me know your views
I can say this right now with the amazing strides we are making with ggCircuit AND with the added resurgence of potential new owners asking me for advice that 2015 is the year LAN centers will finally become relevant for gaming.  We have missed out for years because the technology didn’t exist, the games didn’t exist and the owners were all too independent.  Already this year I have hosted 3 potential new owners physically at my store and consulted with them about starting their own center.  I have not physically consulted with a potential new owner in about 3 years.
3. I can see game developers & publishers not supporting Video Game Center….is it correct?
This is actually changing right now with ggCircuit.  Now when I call developers and publishers representing 28 locations around the world and over 10,000 active gamers they are starting to support us.  They do not have to try and ship out products to 28 locations, they can make a deal and ship to ggCircuit who then gives them the exposure at all of the locations.  Even after 10 years at eBash we have had 25,000+ gamers in our system and they did not care about talking to us.  We were just in one state of the US.  Now we have centers together in North America, Europe, Middle East and Australia with talks in the Far East and also South America.
4. What happens to our field if everyone easily connected through wifi internet & have portable gaming device or portable computers ? 
I think we have to adapt as gaming adapts.  If the gaming industry moves to different platforms, we have to move to different platforms.  As much as I dislike maintaining consoles like the Xbox One or Playstation 4, I think they are necessary for eBash to have available to our gamers.  As they grow up, most of them move toward the PC.
5. Do you think am I pessimist to run the show?
Honestly I didn’t understand this question.  I think the translation from the native language was lost here.  Google Translate you failed me!  I believe that in his decision on whether to keep the LAN center going himself or to sell it he feels he is being negative about the industry.  I don’t think at all it is a problem to be realistic and search through every possible scenario when owning a business.  If you don’t prepare for the worst then you might not be prepared at all.
6. Will ggcircuit save us? i am serious in this because I can see the potential & scope…let me know your views. 
Obviously I am very biased towards saying yes to this question.  However I think that the fact is unless either one single company is able to open 100 stores OR something like ggCircuit unites the LAN industry then we will just continue to all struggle on our own.  Not only because of sponsorship opportunities, but because finally we are giving gamers a reason to play at a LAN center instead of the age old response of “because playing together is more social”.  Now, we give gamers an experience they cannot get anywhere else.
7. Can I have ggciruit in my centers from India?
Yes, of course!  We are already setting up centers in India currently! 🙂
8. Are you interested to hire any skilled developers for ggcircuit from India? because less expense for professional developers compared to your country ….I am interested in this (I earlier had this vision but never took a single step to execute it), at the end of the day cyber cafe programs wins & I am impressed with your works….I thought of some kind of contribution to the man who fights for our benefits.
We are hoping that many centers not only join us by putting ggCircuit in their center but we can use all kinds of help from centers with all types of skills.  Some centers are working on contacts with sponsors they know.  Most of them provide us all sorts of ideas and comments as we release new features.  The next big phase for us is deciding if we are going to support different cafe software packages or if we are going to create easy conversion tools for moving to use Smartlaunch.  Perhaps the conversion tools would be the best place for those with coding skills to jump in and help?
9.Are you running only ebash or you are running other couple of business ? if yes please let me know others……………..please don’t mean me interfering personally because I am seeing you as my role model in this field, so I would like to know how do you manage everything financially apart from micromanagement.
This has been heavy on my mind lately.  I worry that we do too many things good and not any single thing GREAT.  My problem is that I do not ever tell people “no”.  My background was starting a software company business websites in .ASP and .Net, followed by building my own Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Currently we still consult and work on some websites, build some apps, set-up mobile racing simulators, build gaming zones for conventions, run summer camps for kids and probably other things I am not thinking about currently.
The problem is that I need to just focus on one core business.  If I can start saying “no” to some of these items then I can start doing other things better.  I want to be great, not just good.
10. Have you ever felt from quitting this business at least once from the day one ? 
Many, many times.  Probably once a week since I graduated college in 1998 and started my first company.  I think the struggle for small business owners is very real.  There is always the thought in my mind that I am very marketable and would easily make great money working for a larger company and not have to worry about anything.  But I always come back to how happy I am being able to make my own decisions every single second of every single day.  My mistakes are my own fault, my success is a result of my own actions.  I can always live with that even when things are tough.
11. Have you felt negative about this business at least once from the day one ? 
Yes, for sure.  The LAN center industry is filled with owners who are gamers first, business people second.  That is why we have never really found a way to grow.  If a person likes cars, they can be a very successful car dealer, mechanic or salesman.  You can’t consume your time with a car.  But gaming consumes people.  They start making excuses and taking shortcuts.  First it is deciding to play games at the front counter.  Then they start letting their friends play for free so they have someone to play with.  Next thing you know they are going out of business because they didn’t pay attention to running the store.
The other big frustration from me has always been that the industry has never really grown as a group.  Too many centers go out of business and run out of energy to keep going.  We have never been able to have one voice to represent us and get games that are easier to run, deals that are exclusive or bulk buying discounts.
12. How do you still manage your negative thought & keep motivated even though if you see some dark side of our business even in terms of finance? 
The GOOD side of the fact that games can consume people is that for our customers this can mean more revenue for us.  It is bad for a LAN center owner to play games all of the time, but it is good for the customers to play games all of the time in our stores.  I have always held onto hope for our industry because I know that society is moving towards being 100% digital.  Just like the movie Wall-E from Disney, I think people will eventually just sit in front of a screen most of the time.  I just hope that LAN centers can get them out of their houses every now-and-then.
13. What about your family are they co-operative with your business? sorry for asking this because I can see few quite from this business because their family is not supporting …………I felt my family is exception to run this show till now.
My wife has always been 100% behind everything I have done.   We will celebrate 19 years of marriage in August of this year and we love the place we are at with the business.  The future is looking brighter and we are going to be so strong because of the hard times we have experienced in this business and others that I have ran in the past.  There is no question that if you don’t have the support of your family then you should not be in this business, nor any other small business.
14. Your advice/suggestion  for me to take the decision? whether to sell or expand? 
Right now, with what I am seeing, my advice would be to expand.  However that comes with a huge *BUT* next to it.  But the right investment partner is nearly impossible to find.  I have started many businesses in my life.  Some of sold, some of have failed and others are still yet to be seen.  For every great partner or investor I have had 5 that are not very great.


Achievement Fest 2013 & Guinness World Record Attempts for Xbox Gamerscore


These 21 gamers gathered in Terre Haute, IN last weekend to set two Guinness World Records.

Last weekend wrapped up the second annual Achievement Fest here in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Most people probably have no idea where Terre Haute is located and Achievement Fest is still just a new idea I had a few years ago.   However I am amazed again this year at how well the event came together through the help of the gaming community over at www.360voice.com.

We had players from 14 different states and one from Canada arrive between Thursday and Friday last weekend.  An entire section of the eBash Terre Haute store was dedicated to these gamers and their passion for obtaining achievements on the Xbox 360.  For the city of Terre Haute we sold almost 100 room nights at local hotels and they ate our local restaurants all weekend.  I treated them all to 12 dozen Square Donuts on Saturday morning to help kick off the record attempt in Terre Haute style!

Gathering in the hallway near the Square Donuts table!

Gathering in the hallway near the Square Donuts table!

For those new to achievements in general, let me give a quick breakdown of the beauty of Xbox 360 gamerscore.  Every single Xbox 360 game made contains available points to unlock by performing feats in the game itself.  Some are very simple like pressing the start button for the first time and some are more difficult such as playing over 1000 games online.  How the points are distributed are up to the game developer, but Microsoft has rules that they all have to follow and the biggest are:

– Each retail (sold on a disc or anything considered a FULL game) game must contain 1000 gamerscore points to start.  No more or no less.  An Xbox LIVE Arcade game previously started with 200 gamerscore points but more recently was bumped up to 400 gamerscore points.

– The achievements cannot force the user to buy anything additional for the achievement itself.  This is sometimes a gray area with publishers adding additional points to a game with DLC (down load content) but for the most part all achievements can be obtained within the game once you buy the game itself.

When playing through a game the achievement is “unlocked” by completing the predetermined task (which is the same for every person who plays the same game).  At that time a little sound is made on the screen and a long oblong gray bar appears on the screen saying “Achievement Unlocked” with a brief name of the particular achievement.

The collection of these achievements has gone way beyond an obsession for many people.  I can remember when the Xbox 360 was released I tried to get 10,000 gamerscore from achievements on the Xbox 360 before a friend of mine at eBash leveled a character in World of Warcraft from 1 to 40.  The winner got a steak dinner.  I think I might have gotten 6000 points but he easily beat me and back then leveling in WoW took a VERY long time.

Now however there are websites dedicated to obtaining these achievements and competitions between individuals and teams to see who can obtain the most points.  If you want more information here are a few sites that I use on a regular basis:


Enough of the background, let’s cut to the chase.  A gamer that plays a ton of games but one that doesn’t try to get all of the achievements in the games might sit around 10,000 or 20,000 gamerscore.  Remember a single retail game has only 1000 available points total, so that would be 10-20 games completed to 100% of the objectives.

The group of players that attended Achievement Fest this past weekend are each in the hundreds of thousands on their gamerscore.  Personally I am sitting at 266,282 gamerscore.  Many of these players in the top 3 of their states here in the US if not the number one player already.

We decided two years ago to hold an event where we could all meet in person.  Last year on the same weekend in July we had 29 gamers from 17 states and Canada descend on little Terre Haute, IN and not only game all weekend but put up an attempt at two world records through Guinness.

During the Guinness attempt, dotting every "t" and crossing every "i".

During the Guinness attempt, dotting every “t” and crossing every “i”.

However last year we had a Guinness representative assigned to our attempts that told us things that later we found out (when they quit and we were assigned a new representative AFTER our attempt) were not allowed by Guinness.  So fast forward to this year and we had two guys, John Merson (fafhrdd) and Michael Oliver (futiles), who sat out of the competition so they could be officially non-partial witnesses and officiate the attempt.  John especially went overboard for weeks beforehand getting everything set-up with Guinness and his work continues these next few weeks as he submits the evidence for approval.

Thomas Ash (Mr pTart) again attempted the individual record for most gamerscore in 24 hours (which he broke last year but it didn’t count) and again surpassed the previous record of 13,290 (*source*) this time by putting up 14,419 points.  He even took a 1 hour nap during the attempt once he knew he had it in the bag!

The rest of us are creating a new record for the  most gamerscore in 24 hours by a group.  The only caveat was that we needed to surpass the amount of the individual record (it should be easier for a group of people to do something instead of a single player) and once the group hit 16,661 we decided to stop for various nerdy reasons.

Here are links to the Xbox LIVE pages for the two record setting gamertags:

AchieveFest2013 Group Gamertag
Mr pTart Individual Gamertag

Here is a video of the news coverage we recently had of the Guinness record attempt:

Off the Beaten Path: Gaming Gurus

As a special thank you, here is a list of the attendees and a little something about each of them from my own perspective in their seating order for AF this year:

fshguy (Florida) – Thanks for all of the work at 360voice you do.  AF would not be the same if we couldn’t look into the Kinect room and see you playing a kids dancing game with your tongue out like Jordan.
Tandar1 (Indiana) – Fellow Hoosier, somehow providing material for many jokes at your expense and never getting mad.  Don’t worry about the chair, we have plenty.
Elem3ntal80 (Wisconsin) – Missed our Sunday talk this year, but super thanks for organizing and making sure badges were made and also for picking up Hitchman on your way down.  Someday there will be an eBash in Wisconsin.  Someday we will be able to mountain bike together.
pTartTx (Michigan) – Thanks for helping our EEO quota for females.  You are a great part of our online community and an even better part of our real-life community.  Plus you bring with you…..
Mr pTart (Michigan) – Grats on your second record this year!  Hopefully it will count this time.  Maybe next year you won’t sit behind us and act like you know how to play a game that you hadn’t really played before.
THE DREN (Texas) – Where to start.  Thanks for….. being…. “the dren”.  Great interview on TV this year and thank your wife for letting you travel on your anniversary!
griffey95 (Florida) – Dude, you are like a game encyclopedia.  I think you remember everything about every game you have played or even just read about.  Thanks for playing Heavy Spear with me.
streakleader (South Carolina) – Thorton’s sent me a $100 gift card in your name.  They said something about you set a Guinness record for most ounces of soda consumed in 3 days.  Always happy you could leave the courtroom for a few days to visit again this year.
SG Steelhead (Pennsylvania) – Sorry about the sugar glider!  I had fun playing that terrible game, Shattered Rain, with you.  Glad you weren’t in the hospital this year!
nescaughtfire33 (Wyoming) – Hmmm… where to start with you?  Hopefully you made it home?  You were the devil on the shoulder of AF this year and you gave us MANY stories to share in future years.  So glad you guys found us and you both need to add us on LIVE!
MissFourtune (Wyoming)- Dustin says HI!  Glad you came with the “devil” above to help keep her out of too much trouble.  Hopefully you managed to get her on the plane, we haven’t heard anything on the news otherwise so we are assuming you made it.
fafhrdd (Maryland) – John you were a trooper this year bulldogging the Guinness information and you are still going strong to get everything approved.  I forgive you for wearing a sticker with my face on it all weekend!  Also thanks for playing Shattered Storm with me this year.
Hitchman1 (Illinois) – Thanks for bringing your JP console to add to the event.  Also thanks for cleaning out your wallet the first night and giving us some interesting stories for the next 3 days of AF.
JB330 (Indiana) – My Hoosier teammate in so many competitions.  I am not sure why you don’t like me, but maybe you can hang out with me more in our new Castleton store?  Thanks for playing Heavy Spatula with me.
futiles (Kansas) – Thanks for taking over updating the website (hopefully you will continue!) and helping John with the Guinness attempt.  Next year we are getting you on the books!  Your actual presence is so much bigger than your mass and thank you for that boost to the energy at AF.
LibrarianBeth (Kansas) – Thanks for helping keep everyone going with the items that 18 other males don’t think about.  We all will continue to pray for you putting up with futiles another year before we see you again.
Buckswana (Ontario) – Thanks for bringing the entire cool factor up a notch each year.  Sorry we didn’t get your news reporter back again.
HotdogMcGee (Nevada) – Thanks for the constant tomfoolery running rampant at AF each year.  Also thanks for taking care of making sure the Real Buffet Challenge Part 2 took place.  Next year I promise not to pick you up from the airport in a van full of fish in coolers.
CKinAL (Alabama) – Glad you didn’t have to drive through the night alone this year. 🙂  There are not many cool girls hanging with this group of dudes, but we are lucky that you are one of them.
dacoto (Alabama) – Thanks for again bringing swag to give away even though it was a weird year with how busy I have been.  Next year we are turning you loose and there will be epic prizes to be had by all.  Also thanks for admitting you were framing Tandar all along.

Also a special thanks to the Terre Haute Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (David, Amy and Jeanne) and the staff at eBash who helped set-up for AF and then also helped put everything back together again (Dustin, Eric, Fred, , Lloyd, Mark, Romie).

2013: The Year of eBash!

It had been 4 years since we opened our Evansville location as a franchise store when we finally opened another locations in Charleston, IL in November of last year.  This was something new we are trying, with two great guys from the Charleston area who own the store completely and just pay us a monthly fee to use the eBash name and piggyback on all of our events and marketing programs.  They are doing really good, December ramped up very nicely for them and the future is looking bright.  We are in talks with 3 other prospective owners around this US to start new stores with this same program in 2013.

Toward the end of last year I found out that my long-time friend in the industry, Eric Osar, was shutting down his game center (Crazy Penguins Gaming) at the end of the year.  Within that same week I also saw a post that a gaming center I had visited before I started eBash over in Indianapolis had closed down and the owner, Bill Noel, was looking to sell the store and equipment.

The timing was not by chance for these events.  I had finished meeting with my accountant a week before and he and I agreed that either I had to start expanding eBash again or I needed to go out and get another job completely.  It wasn’t fair to my family for me to live on the salary of a single store manager especially with our third child on the way in April.  It is hard to watch my fellow Rose-Hulman graduates work their way into 6 figure salaries, but I doubt any of them love their jobs as much as I do.

So I called Eric and asked what he thought about having me take over their store, basically buying him out.  We have been working on the details for the past 3 weeks and are very close to finalizing the deal.  I have at the same time been talking with Bill about doing the same thing with his center, (Netheads), over in Carmel, IN.  Again, a few details remain but we are also close to finalizing the deal.

If/When all of this happens, it appears that by the end of this month we will own 3 stores again and the Charleston, IL store will give us 4 total under the eBash banner.  The Evansville store struggled a few years ago and the previous owner had to quickly sell the assets to get out of financial obligations.  The new owners admittedly do not know anything about running a game center, they just had kids who loved going to the store.  I have thought about offering to take back over the operation of that store also and bail them out of a bad situation, which would give us 5 stores total.

The reason that this prospect is so exciting is that FINALLY we will be able to do so many things that we have wanted over the years but just did not have enough locations.  My list of things we will be pursuing in 2013:

  • Summer Camp Programs – Netheads has started a summer program for players to learn basic video game design.  They have a solid curriculum that teaches design on a computer that gives them the ability to create their own game during the week and compile and play test it using Xbox controllers plugged into the USB ports of the computer.  We want to expand this into after-school programs and extend the offerings to adults with classes in Photoshop, Word Press Design and even some corporate training.
  • High School Gaming Events – With 5 stores in those locations we will reach about 50 area high schools.  I want those schools to put together teams to represent their schools in different games and we will host leagues and tournaments for those players.  These kind of events creates extremely level playing fields between teams because of the geographic restrictions of playing with teammates all from the same high school.
  • Sponsorship deals and promotions – These 5 stores in the past have served over 100,000 gamers in their locations.   The store locations themselves can reach a potential 4,000,000 people with almost half a million of them being our demographic of ages 13-24 and who love gaming and technology.
  • Bigger tournaments and leagues – With 5 stores, we can offer a $1000 payout or higher tournament almost every weekend for different games.  Not only can we offer larger payouts, but we can attract 5 times as many teams because gamers won’t have to travel.  Each store can attract 8 teams of 4 or 5 players, bringing up to 200 gamers together for a tournament that takes place at their local game center.
  • Weekly lock-ins with events – We run lock-ins every single Friday and Saturday at our Terre Haute and Charleston stores now.  However by adding 2 or 3 more locations doing the same thing will give us the ability to run Black Ops  2 or Halo 4 FFA events during the night on Friday nights, or maybe Madden 13 or League of Legends events on Saturday night for the 16+ crowd.  How about a Minecraft contest that runs for 10 hours during one of the lock-ins on our private servers?  With an average of 50 players per lock-in, that gives us over 250 players each lock-in to split up and run events.  Which store is best overall?  Which gamer is best overall?  Video Game Olympics?

There are still plenty of “t”s to cross and “i”s to dot before it is all final, but we are getting close enough that I felt like sharing a little bit of what is going on right now so that everyone else can start getting as excited as I am for “2013: The Year of eBash! 🙂

ggCircuit 2013 Pre-season $1,750 League of Legends Tournament Wrap-Up

2012-12-09 lol_website_featured

Zen Method from Gamerz Funk in Taylorsville, UT took home $500 for second place this past weekend in the ggCircuit $1,750 League of Legends tourney.

Last weekend was a big deal for me.  I am starting my 9th year in the video game (LAN) center industry.  It was December 10th, 2004 when I opened the original eBash location with 18 Xbox stations (the originals, not the 360) and 14 computers.  We have come a LONG way since then as a company and my perspective of the industry has changed quite a bit as well.

The other big milestone last weekend was the return of ggCircuit to the tournament scene.  ggCircuit was started back in December of 2008 by my buddy Jason McIntosh and myself to try and organize LAN centers throughout North America for hosting tournaments, leagues and other events.  We ran 33 events over the next 16 months paying out over $21,000 in cash prizes!  Here is a list of what we ran over those months:

1/3/2009 – Halo 2v2 – $750
1/18/2009 – Madden – $350
1/24/2009 – Gears 2 – $1,500
2/14/2009 – Halo 4v4 – $1,000
2/21/2009 – CoD 4 – $1,000
2/22/2009 – Madden – $250
2/28/2009 – Gears 2 – $1,000
3/13/2009 – Halo FFA – $750
3/14/2009 – Street Fighter 4 – $300
3/21/2009 – Halo Wars – $300
3/28/2009 – Gears 2 – $2,000
4/11/2009 – Street Fighter 4 – $300
4/18/2009 – Halo 3 4v4 – $2,000
4/26/2009 – Gears 2 – $500.00
6/27/2009 – Halo 3 2v2 – $1,000
7/25/2009 – CoD4 – $1,000
8/8/2009 – Gears 2 – $1,300
8/15/2009 – Halo 3 4v4 – $1,340
12/5/2009 – MW2 – $1,000
1/2010 – Xbox Gamerscore – $800
1/2010 – MW2 FFA – $250
Q1 2010 – MW2 League/Tourney – $2,500

As you can tell, the events became less dense towards the end of the first life cycle of ggCircuit.  It was a TON of work for Jason and I settling in each weekend to be online and admin matches across sometimes as many as 15 different game centers.  Over those 16 months some centers who were great supporters went out of business (which is common in this industry) and others just stopped running events with us because of the amount of work it requires.

About 2 months ago we hosted a League of Legends tournament at our main store and I was encouraged that maybe, just maybe, the industry might be ready for ggCircuit to start.  I put some feelers out with the LAN center groups I am a part of on facebook and inside the iGames forums.  Sure enough, people were interested.

So this past weekend we re-launched ggCircuit with a $1,750 payout tournament for League of Legends.  On Saturday, 38 teams played at 10 different LAN centers from Canada to Hawaii at their local game centers to crown the top 2 teams from each store.  Then on Sunday those 20 teams entered the championship brackets online to crown the top 3 teams.  You can check out the entire championship brackets here:


Congratulations to Yolo Kimchi Squad from Eudemonia for taking home $1,000 for first place after fighting back through the loser’s bracket and beating Zen Method from Gamerz Funk twice in the finals match.  Sesame Street All Stars from PC Gamerz in Hawaii took home 3rd place and $250.

The fun thing now is that after a weekend of gaming I can release the pre-season game center rankings which is my super secret formula based on how well teams perform and how many teams each center attracts for ggCircuit events.  Ladies and gentlemen here are your pre-season center rankings:

#1 – Gamerz Funk – Taylorsville, UT (380)
#2 – PC Gamerz – Aiea, HI (350)
#3 – Midgard – Mount Pearl, Canada (260)
#4 – Eudemonia – Berkeley, CA (250)
#5 – eBash – Terre Haute, IN (160)
– Save Point – Morgantown, WV (160)
#7 – eBash – Charleston, IL (140)
– Galaxy Gaming – Sioux Falls, SD (140)
#9 – DIZeLAN – Azusa, CA (130)
#10 – Gaming Utopia – New Albany, IN (70)

Seven Xbox 360 Kinect Playing Tips and Tricks from the Number One #1 Kinect Player in the World

I love the Kinect and have been playing it non-stop for years now.  I don’t have any plans of stopping and I get very frustrated when I hear that people “hate” games on the Kinect.  Unless you are just extremely lazy there is no reason to not give the Kinect a chance.  I don’t want a bad experience to turn you off from a great option for gamers getting off their behinds and being active.  As the #1 Kinect player in the world and also playing in multiple environments I thought it might be helpful to create a list with things that have made my Kinect experience so successful.

  • First of all, it is worth spending some time moving some furniture around for your Kinect session(s). At my house and at the store I have the sensor on top of 52″ televisions (size of the TV doesn’t matter) and directly at my eyesight level (on top of the TV).  I have played with the sensors below the TV and it SUCKS TERRIBLE.  If you are ever playing with a sensor below the TV you will NOT have as good of a time.
  • Secondly make sure you are about 8-10 feet away from the screen. This might seem like a chore in smaller spaces, but the trick is that you can put your TV in the corner of the room facing out diagonally. I did that in our house and it made a huge difference. The farther from the TV the better, but honestly at the store when you get past 10 feet away the sensor also gets mad, so the perfect range seems to be between 8 and 10 feet.
  • Lighting is the third VERY important set-up. I have actually messed with this A TON at work, moving the florescent lights around the room and found that the light sources need to be above and in front of you. At home I have can lights in the ceiling in the corner of the room above the TV and that will be the only lights I have on in the room when I want the perfect experience. If you have to, move a desk lamp up on a desk or something and point it at you like a spot light, or two desk lamps. Having lights off behind you seems to also help a ton.
  • I almost always reset the tracking on the sensor when I start a game. For some reason many times the sensor either A) Decides to cut off right above my head and arm motions above me are not seen or B) It cuts off my feet at the knee and it can’t see my feet movement correctly. When you start go to the Kinect guide, let it “adjust tracking” on its own (which never seems to work), then choose to adjust tracking manually. Move the sensor up/down until you can see at least 1 foot above your head and a bit below your feet. When the sensor is at eye level it will seem like it is pointing down more than it should, but you can watch your image as you adjust it and it will be obvious when you get it positioned correctly.
  • Dress for success. Believe it or not it matters quite a bit getting the sensor to see all of your body correctly. The biggest thing I have found is to wear white socks, no socks or white shoes. When I wear black shoes or black socks the sensor seems to loose track of my feet quite a bit. Now it could just be that I have darker floors so in the rare case that you have white floors, I would assume that darker shoes would be better. Also the same goes for the rest of your clothing. If you are in front of a dark couch, wear lighter clothes. If you are in front of a light colored wall wear darker clothing.
  • Stand on a blanket.  This isn’t necessary if you have a solid color floor, but at home I have a patterned rug in our living room where the Kinect is played and on some occasions I find the sensor won’t read my feet correctly.  I put a solid colored blanket down and all is better again.  It also is nice when you are playing at night to dampen the sound of you jumping around the house when the kids are asleep. 🙂
  • The final tip is more of an observation of sorts. After all of the Kinect I have played, the trick is not necessarily figuring out what to do by following instructions in the game. The trick is figuring out what you can do with your body to get the Kinect to see what it wants to see.  Sometimes figuring out how to get a motion of your body to register correctly on the screen is the game, not the game itself.  I have done bizarre stuff facing an opposite direction, taking my shirt off, tucking in my shirt, pulled my shorts up to my chest, standing on a chair, etc.

Some of these might seem irrelevant, but I can assure you that each item above needs to be addressed if you want to play Kinect games and have fun.  Sure, not every game works perfectly and you might run into some that are just bad games.  Don’t blame the Kinect itself and don’t group all Kinect games together if you have one or two bad gaming sessions.  The Kinect is awesome and I am standing by it to the end! 🙂

My Xbox 360 Achievement Obsession

Most of you who know me very well recognize that I sort of enjoy unlocking Xbox 360 achievements.  Alright, fine, I admit it.  I REALLY like unlocking Xbox 360 Achievements.  I am an active member of a great site at http://www.360voice.com where I am almost always playing in 3-4 different achievement based competitions.  Here are a few of the challenges I am playing in over at 360v:

Mini-site:  http://terrehaute.ebash.com/skyline/2012
Forums:  http://360voice.gamerdna.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=25353
Description:  Randomly formed teams try to build the biggest “skyline” throughout this 3-4 month long competition.  One player from each team daily must build at least 1 level higher than his current tower by unlocking that number of achievements.  We started out with 14 teams and there are now only 9 remaining.  My team is the “Fantastic Four” and I have met 3 great new players that will remain on my friends list forever.
Current Standing:  Top 9

Challenge Page: http://360voice.gamerdna.com/ccs/2012Buffet
Forum: http://360voice.gamerdna.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=25597
Description:  I never have much of a chance on this one because I just really don’t enjoy certain genres of games.  However I usually can maintain a respectable top 20 and usually push into the top 10 by the end of the competition.
Current Standing: 20th

Windows 7 Phone Challenge
Challenge Page: http://360voice.gamerdna.com/ccs/WP2012
Description:  This one is a new challenge for 2012 for only achievements unlocked on our Windows 7 phones.  The rule is that games only count if they are released in 2012.  I am holding my own on this one in the top 3.  I could push a bit harder, but I try to wait until the newer games go on sale before I purchase them.  Unless of course I can use the achievements on the same day I have a Skyline build and get twice the benefit.
Current Standing: 3rd

Another site I enjoy is trueachievements.com which doesn’t really have challenges on the site itself, but others created challenges based on games “True Achievement” scores.  The TA score is based on how many gamers have actually unlocked that particular achievement.  This is a WAY better indication of value because of the weighted nature of the points.  Everyone can unlock easy achievements so they should not be worth as much as the more difficult unlocks.

A couple challenges based on TA score that I am playing in currently:

Great True Achievement Score Challenge
Website: http://www.gtasc.net/
Description:  This might be my favorite.  A year long competition in which the bottom 2 teams are eliminated each week.  I put together a team of all Indiana-based players, so naturally we are the Hoosiers.  Kyle is a long time eBash customer, employee and close friend, JB330 was randomly put on my team last year in the Skyline and we have become good friends and the other two I didn’t know at all, just picked them from the Indiana leaderboards over at xboxamerica.com and sent them a message.  They are both great and our team is doing extremely well so far.
Current Standing: 70 teams remaining

Gamerscore Super Pwnaggeddon Marathon
Website: http://www.gspmarathon.net/
Description:  This is a 3 player competition and I have teamed up with 2 players that I have played with in the past but never have teamed up with them before:  Roku750 and MarvzMitts.  Our team is Boku Mittz and we just need to maintain above 75th place before September and then push through the end of the year.
Current Standings:  54th

Honestly I am not sure I would be into the achievements that much without these challenges and competitions.  I am a competitive guy and love plowing through Xbox games earning points to take out another individual or team.  Just like at the old arcades in the malls of america, it isn’t that cool to be good at Pacman unless there is a high-score leaderboard to show your initials on top of the rest.