Competitive Casual Gaming Is Already Here

A few posts back I wrote about the competitive gaming scene (PMS Asterisk*: Girl Gamers of Singapore) and pondered whether casual and social gaming would ever reach competitive status and attention from sponsors and players. Well ponder no more!

All those hours spent dancing in your bedroom may pay off…

Xbox 360 Singapore, Dance Central Championships 2012

Over the past two months Xbox 360 Singapore has hosted its inaugural Dance Central Championships with the finals taking place on Sunday, April 8. Developed by Harmonix, Dance Central is a game played using the Xbox 360 console and Kinect motion sensing input device. The sensor tracks players’ movements as they imitate dance moves on-screen, scoring points for timing and accuracy. Combining popular dance tracks with well choreographed routines, Dance Central has been well received by critics and players alike. Moreover single-player and Dance Battle modes make it a popular inclusion at parties, perhaps overtaking karaoke as the best way of making guests part of the night’s entertainment. (As I can attest from personally rocking Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head  at a NYE party two years ago.)

Audience at Dance Central Championships 2012, Plaza Singapura, Singapore

The Dance Central Championships 2012 is the region’s first national dance competition utilising the Kinect for Xbox 360 and considerable prizes were on offer. The winner of specific categories received cash prizes including Solo (SGD2,000), Doubles (SGD4,000), and Junior (SGD1,000). The Ultimate Dance Champion, Sarah Dane Camongol, walked away with a trophy and prizes worth over SGD2,000 from a range of sponsors including Xbox 360, Starhub, CK Fragrances and LG. Although the event was not televised, the semi-finals and finals drew in a considerable live audience to Plaza Singapura, a local shopping mall.

Speaking from experience is does take a certain skill level and practice to achieve the high scores in Dance Central. Moreover, dancing in front of a crowd certainly requires additional prowess. With a massive screen and a fantastic set of speakers, the event definitely generated a lot of interest, toe-tapping and smiles from spectators. Not to mention the number of Xbox/Kinect bundles I saw purchased on site. I think the event was a great example of how to take casual gaming from the living room to a public arena. Other developers and publishers may need to take note soon…

World Cyber Games

Thanks to a tip-off from a reader, I was directed to a post on eSports blog Cadred reporting on an alleged leaked letter from the World Cyber Games (WCG) indicating that the “organisation will no longer be running traditional games tournaments and only supporting mobile phone games.” Although the news has not been officially confirmed by WCG, if the news is true, it represents a huge shift in competitive gaming highlighting the increased presence and acceptance of the casual gaming market.

WCG currently supports e-sports such as StarCraft II, Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft and League of Legends. Despite the popularity and lucrative nature of current eSports, the letter points to financial motivations. Excerpts from the letter are included below.

“In the current status of gaming and IT industry, one of the most remarkable information to us was the mobile shipments have exceeded the PC shipments…. We made a hard decision that we should bring the mobile, new key sector in the game industry, in our event concept. Hence WCG decided to start the Mobile Game-Based Festival… There will be no longer present event modules, such as Pan Championship, and PC-Based National Finals. And the official game titles of WCG will consist of mobile Games.”

Reaction to the leaked letter has been mixed, some expressing disbelief while others are welcoming the move. If the transition does eventuate, it will represent a massive shift in the competitive gaming landscape. Stay tuned… you may well have to sharpen those Fruit Ninja and Draw Something skills.

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