Running a Mario Kart Tournament

I’m very proud of my relationship with Nintendo. And I’m grateful for the IGDA empowering me to use that relationship to benefit the community. Earlier this year, I was able to arrange a wonderful Q&A with Nintendo Treehouse members — Tim O’Leary and Reiko Ninomiya — at GDC.

This time, I was communicating with Nintendo about running an officially endorsed Mario Kart tournament at SIEGE!

SIEGE 2016

For those who do not know, SIEGE is short for Southern Interactive Entertainment and Games Expo. I can best describe it as a really small Game Developers Conference in the heart of the South — Atlanta.

Before I moved to Tokyo in late 2014, I was part of the SIEGE organizational committee. It doesn’t seem much has changed during my absence in 2015. SIEGE still remains cozy as the small, but beating heart of Atlanta’s game development community.

Due to constraints, I refrained from returning to my previous involvement with SIEGE.  This time my involvement with SIEGE was as a board member of IGDA Atlanta. Our 2nd annual Game Studio Smackdown was being hosted at the conference!

Planning Game Studio Smackdown

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Game Studio Smackdown touts itself as a game tournament by game devs, for game devs. It’s IGDA Atlanta’s event to help unite the game dev community in camaraderie. It was a hit last year, so the board was eager to bring it back for a second time. We posted a poll during the summer which resulted in Rocket League as our most popular pick, followed by Mario Kart 8!

As the resident “Nintendo guy,” I was placed in charge of coordinating and running the Mario Kart 8 side of the tournament, which I gladly accepted! I reached out to some of my contacts at Nintendo of America and got introduced to the legal team for the first time. It may sound odd, but I actually really enjoyed it! Serving as liaison between Nintendo and the IGDA, an agreement was formed permitting us to host the Mario Kart tournament!

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A sample of social media posts I prepared and had approved by Nintendo’s legal and business teams!
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Tournament plans sketched out by Alex Batres.

Securing the agreement was the easy part! Planning the tournament structure was the true challenge. Therefore, I recruited the help of my friend, Alex Batres. He not only had good knowledge of Mario Kart, but was keenly familiar with video game tournament structure as a competitive video game player. Together, we established a game plan which prepared us well while running the competition!

Executing Game Studio Smackdown

Thanks to Molly Proffitt (IGDA Atlanta president), SIEGE, and Battle & Brew providing the equipment, setup for the Mario Kart preliminaries was incredibly smooth! I honestly couldn’t be happier.

Alex proved to be an invaluable asset, taking ownership of maintaining the brackets while I focused on commentary. I had a lot of fun and I received good feedback about my performance during the event too!

Ultimately, Alex, who was also a competitor, became the Mario Kart champion with 50 points! All that hard work paid off for him! But for me, the best part was seeing other game devs love the game as much as I do!

E3 2016: Nintendo’s Zelda Creating Big Ripples

E3 2016 Expectations

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

In complete honesty, I didn’t expect much from E3 2016. With the growing presence of the Internet, the need for a gargantuan press event seems to shrink by the day. However, the spectacle of E3 still makes me long for it. Like a kid wishing to go to Disneyland.

I spent most of E3 2016 watching the the most unlikely of candidates: Nintendo.

I need to make a special shout out for Sony. They delivered a press event that left people on the edge of their seats with nonstop, impressive showings with titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, and a surprising empathetic twist on God of War (a bloodthirsty game that typically doesn’t appeal to me). Sony’s dive in VR this autumn was the cherry on top. Despite this, I spent most of E3 2016 watching the the most unlikely of candidates: Nintendo.

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Undertale: A Game Full of Soul(s)

Mt. Ebott, 201X…

It has been a long time I’ve loved a game as much as I love Undertale. A game from humble beginnings, it truly is like coming across a mythical creature. Undertale is a unicorn in the gaming world. Odd, beautiful, and rarely, if ever, seen. I wholeheartedly recommend experiencing this game for yourself. If you have any intention of doing so, you’ve been warned: there are spoilers ahead.

Continue reading Undertale: A Game Full of Soul(s)

Freelance Writer & Nintendo Connoisseur