ESPN Online Games
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ESPN Online Games were a collection of sports-themed internet video games available on the ESPN3 broadband internet channel. There are currently two collections of games. The first is “Arena Games,” which features a home run derby style baseball game; a 3-point shooter basketball game and Throwdown, a four-round boxing game. The second section is “Bar Sports” which features air hockey, bar curling and a coin toss game. The games are played at espngames.com
The games are reached through an interactive locker room and ESPN Zone respectively. The locker room features a wise-cracking Janitor named Willy who also appears in Home Run Derby and Throwdown, coaching players in how to play each of the games. It also features video and photo content, and explorable lockers. The ESPN Zone features video patrons and a number of Easter eggs, such as a stadium from which a ball is hit.
The games were produced using Flash 8. They combined video footage, animation and 3-d rendering to offer a feeling of hyperreality. The use of video footage gives many of the games the look and feel of games played on the Sega CD platform as well as many of the pre-3D PC games. ESPN Online games are played in a virtual “Game Controller” that looks remarkable like a Sony PSP. This virtual controller can be flipped over to view a leader board, a friends list and avatar generator.
Game Controller Features
The leader board tracks scores gained within each of the video games as well as the composite score for both the Bar Games and Arena Games areas. It breaks the scores into four color-coded tiers: Rookie (brown), Pro (blue), Veteran (gold) and All-Star (green). A user is able to see their own rank in the pyramid-shaped leader board, as well as scroll over to see which scores they have to beat to get reach the top. The leader board is viewable in a basic mode, which shows only the tier you belong to, and a composite mode, which shows your overall ranking for a game or section. There is also a custom competition circle leader board, which players make by challenging their friends.
ESPN Online Games also feature viral marketing through a component referred to as “competition circles”. Competition circles are built through a challenge screen, which allows a player to send an email to their friends to beat their high score. If these friends visit a link contained within the email they are added to a custom leader board which only competition circle members can see.
The avatar generator allows users to create a “game face” that is a combination of different facial features. Users are allowed to select their own head, nose, mouth, eyes and “shwag” elements in an advanced editor, or to use a pre-made basic face. These elements are photo-realistic, like many of the other game elements. The ability to pastiche together different elements from different faces, and many of the custom shwag elements contribute to the overallpost-modern feel of hyperrealism the games as well.