Former game developer Jace Hall has some big names helping him on his eSports vision for Twin Galaxies, which he recently acquired. He’s partnered with leading game companies such as Warner Bros. Games and Ubisoft, and Hollywood celebrities like Jamie Lee Curtis and Rick Fox, to raise $250,000 through Indiegogo to build the ESPN of eSports and help promote the positive elements of video games (#Right2Game) and eSports competition through an online and mobile platform that will handle everything from record-keeping to livestreams. Hall details his plans in this exclusive interview.
Why did you decide to buy Twin Galaxies?
Twin Galaxies was acquired because I knew it to be one of the few founding entities of the concept of eSports, and it was specifically focused on video game players as the primary point of interest in the equation and not the video games themselves.
Twin Galaxies was founded in 1981 and is the world’s most preeminent professional organization that is solely dedicated to the recognition, promotion, support and elevation of all video game players throughout the world.
I immediately identified that with some modernization and refinement, Twin Galaxies stood poised to position itself uniquely in the eSports world, and could expand itself much further into a critical area of need in the video game industry as the rise and popularity of eSports continued.
That need is to create and support a sustainable quantifiable environment that solely works to provide video game players a greater path to recognition, value and economic longevity throughout their careers regardless of specific game or platform.
What impact has the rise of eSports had on this brand?
ESports has been around since the beginning of video games. Competition among players has been a very present and essential theme. Twin Galaxies came into existence more than 30 years ago to not only help facilitate electronic gaming competition by establishing rules and procedures, but to also elevate and promote the player’s achievements in such a way that mass-society could understand and appreciate. That was critical. The promotion and significance of the players themselves is what was important. The purpose of elevating the players was for the benefit of the players themselves, whether that be greater economic opportunity or cultural recognition.
As eSports continued to evolve, a dramatic shift took place. Video game companies began to recognize that competition could be used to promote the sale of more video game product. This realization began to be leveraged heavily. This is essentially where we are today, with eSports events essentially being elaborate marketing tools to sell more copies of games, prize pools coming from sales of add-on game packs, and a tremendous amount of revenue generated for video game companies and their supporting partners. The players in this equation are essentially just consumers, last on the food chain both economically and from a longevity point-of-view.
The impact of this on the Twin Galaxies brand has been a clear purpose and greater pressure and need for Twin Galaxies to grow faster to fill the enormous opportunity vacuum being created due to everything in the industry being about the game and not about the player.
How important are the players in eSports today?
In sports like basketball or football, the players are the content, not the game. In modern eSports, the ecosystem is not designed to support that. Games are first, individual players a distant second. When the focus is selling game copies, how can the player be regarded as anything but a tool to promote that ultimate goal I make no criticism here of game companies – they are doing what they are supposed to do, sell games – but what about the players. Where is the long term career path for them?
So the impact on Twin Galaxies is that it makes it more relevant than ever before. The industry needs an organization that is only focused on video game players and their interests. That is Twin Galaxies.
What role do you see Twin Galaxies playing in this ecosystem?
There needs to be a place where video game players of all gaming categories can essentially “bank” their accomplishments and retain value and build on them across their whole career. Twin Galaxies is not a game company. It is not selling video game product. It does not have a conflict of interest in this matter. Twin Galaxies’ function is to provide official structure and parameter to video game playing achievement across all electronic gaming platforms. It is where competitive video game rules are officially set, player performances are objectively measured/adjudicated, and the complete statistical data of official records/rankings are logged, maintained and updated for all video game platforms and types. Twin Galaxies is about quantification. Twin Galaxies translates all player achievement taking place into messaging that the non-gaming mass audiences worldwide can understand and appreciate.
What’s your vision for Twin Galaxies?
The vision is to help to lay a consistent, data-driven, bankable foundation that sponsors can trust and understand and use to provide opportunities directly to players regardless of specific game. This is a critical need in eSports today. No other organization is focused on this – every other effort is focused on the game as the primary importance.
This foundation of data that Twin Galaxies collects and refines, also works to provide evidentiary proof of the intrinsic value of the activity of playing video games to the mainstream. This is also critical for video game player longevity in the eyes of the mainstream.
What are your eSports plans since you have a physical eSports center?
There are many ideas, and thematically our goal is to have player-promotion events there, as opposed to game-promotion events. For instance, we have plans of producing essentially the equivalent of a “Video Game Olympics” where there are many simultaneous tournaments and contests for various platforms and genres taking place and that player achievement is measured and stored during the event both specifically and holistically (like the Olympics.)
How have you used this center in the past?
The center is new and we are still working things out with it, however we did recently hold a series of classic decathlons there as an exploratory format for competition.
A lot of eSports has focused on the pros. What opportunities do you see with the amateur level to get more gamers involved?
This is part of the opportunity that Twin Galaxies will be working to address. In modern eSports, “pros” are being defined by specific games and the companies that produce them. It is very insular. Essentially, it is difficult to be a recognized “pro” unless you happen to play one of the few games that happens to be incredibly popular at the moment and has a large marketing budget behind it. This is limiting for video game players worldwide because the vast majority of video game playing activity is taking place outside of these few games. Areas like handheld and mobile gaming are essentially ignored, as are almost all games that are not specifically formatted for tournament play.
So, unless a player happens to be playing one of the “hot” games of the day, they are potentially regulated by default to being an “amateur” or “hobbyist,” with no mechanism of elevation — which for millions of game players out there is quite insulting and discouraging. There is a tremendous amount of skill out there that is not being properly valued or recognized.
Twin Galaxies now has systems and the experience in place to receive, analyze, recognize and promote video game achievement outside of the closed system of video game publishers and one specific game title. This facilitates the creation and recognition of “pros” across all video gaming categories and platforms. These “pros” are promoted and elevated to the world and are backed by actual verified player statistic data that Twin Galaxies has collected about them and their performances. It’s a legitimizer, and it opens up much greater opportunity for video game players worldwide to not be confined to just a few “high profile” game titles.
With all games and platforms suddenly now becoming recognized possible areas to achieve in, the scope of opportunity really opens up to enormity, and Twin Galaxies is working to get the word out and encourage more and more participation. From mobile to retro to modern day consoles, there is a lot of video game talent out there — “pros” by every measure.
As a former game developer, what are your thoughts on how eSports has grown?
I am very excited about all of the growth. I am a huge video game player myself and to see all of the participation taking place out there is very heartening. However I am definitely concerned about some of the shape that certain areas are taking. All one has to do is follow the money and see where it goes to quickly see how lopsided some things are. The industry is working itself up into a frenzy, with video game publishers essentially trying to build all their own “silos” — which of course are all designed to ultimately do one thing, own their community and sell games to it. It reminds me a lot of the whole MMO industry frenzy that took place once World of Warcraft demonstrated so much success. Everyone started to build their own “silos” then, too. We saw where that went . . .
I believe that the future of eSports is bright, but it should be managed carefully. I feel it would likely be beneficial to the whole category if there was more cooperation between publishers on the matter. Of course, this will be hard to achieve because publishers specifically do not want their players to transition from game to game (unless they own both games.) So that is where an organization like Twin Galaxies can be very effective, and can work agnostically with all interested parties so that the player achievement taking place within a particular “silo” can be captured and officially stored for the benefit of the player.
That way the time investment made by players into mastering a game in any “silo” is not suddenly lost when the game eventually loses the limelight, and then they have to “start over” with an all new game in a different “silo” and build again to be regarded as a champion or “pro” once more.
Livestreaming has been a key factor in that growth. What opportunities do you see with that distribution method through Twin Galaxies moving forward?
Twin Galaxies has been livestreaming for nearly two years and we feel that it is a very important aspect of growth for eSports. The desire to watch people play video games well is nothing new. From the very first arcade game, people were always intrigued by a solid display of a player’s skill and on-looking crowds would regularly form around a player as he/she put on a great performance.
As arcade locations became more rare, and the rise of gaming at home with consoles or computers took over, there simply was no practical way for large groups of people to watch the activity. So there were many years of this until broadband network connections made it into homes. Now that the ability to broadcast video gameplay from nearly any device exists, the audience that was always there waiting has been able to make its return.
At its core, livestreaming is about an event that is taking place — both big and small and bringing audience interactivity into it. While the concept of big events for things like sports and music are well understood, I think the real growth opportunity is in the small event and what it can be evolved toward. That’s really what the average twitch broadcaster is, a small event taking place, and you get to participate! Ultimately this means more content options for people, which is always a good thing.
Twin Galaxies will leverage its experience and knowledge in livestreaming to take advantage of the livestream opportunity and use it to better facilitate the positive promotion and understanding of the activity of playing video games through the voices and interests of the players that it promotes. It will create live content that emphasizes audience interactivity, and while it will certainly create and broadcast big events, it will also put an emphasis on the small event as well — allowing individual players to receive focus and attention. This is key because it is only through the recognition of an individual’s achievements and the personalization of those accomplishments can the mainstream fully emotionally invest itself and learn, understand and respect the time investment value made by people into playing video games.
How do you see your scoring and ranking system connecting across various eSports titles?
Twin Galaxies keeps an enormous amount of records and score rankings (over 30 years’ worth) and is accruing more every single day through user submissions. There are multiple ways (or variations) to measure achievement within any particular video game. We call these variations “tracks.”
While a game can have many tracks, and within each of those tracks there are player rankings, not all achievements within tracks are viewed equally in terms of the perception of the needed skills, artistry, strategy, or effort that individual tracks may require.
Keeping this in mind, every ranking that a TG member has on an individual leaderboard produces a calculated point value. The cumulative point values for every rank position held by individual TG members across multiple leaderboards covering multiple platforms and game categories are then algorithmically computed to produce each member’s Player Skill Index (PSI).
This PSI ranking idea is a powerful part of a logical holistic measurement system that can analyze achievement across all video games, platforms and categories for an individual person over any period of time. This is an important gateway to conversation with non-gamer audiences as well as sponsors and will begin to allow many more people to appreciate and understand the great talent being expressed by video game players worldwide.
A similar context is an Olympic Gold Medal. We all understand that when someone has earned a Gold Medal, that we should value their achievement. We don’t even need to know what the sport was where the achievement took place to understand the value. The specific Olympic “game” has been separated from the “achievement recognition.” This helps the mainstream understand and appreciate. Twin Galaxies’ PSI system creates a similar abstraction.
Every PSI has 100 percent all the data behind it that can show and demonstrate how it was computed. This is a huge difference from someone merely claiming that they are good at video games, or the insular vertical landscape of a video game publisher’s anointed tournament champions that work to self-serve. Twin Galaxies’ view is that third party objective adjudication data and multi-user comparative systemic data is what can legitimately validate skill and justify formal recognition. Actual “video game champions” are revealed through this data.
Twin Galaxies’ ranking system has a tremendous upside for video game players worldwide. It allows the player value to be separated from the games they play and creates a context for outside parties to understand and invest in. It effectively shifts the focus of content/interest from the Game to the Player, and it is a very meaningful shift. This is the future of eSports.
It also allows a video game player to accrue and “bank” their achievements as a lifelong third party computed value that is based on data and statistical analysis of their various performances across all games and all platforms they’ve ever played and submitted into the system. No longer does a player’s video game career have to end when the popular game they play falls out of favor. Their accomplishments are recorded and value is accrued and preserved while they move on to a different game to play to build even more career value. The importance of this cannot be overstated.