Esports Lab Spotlight: Craig G. Anderson


by | May 1, 2019, 11:00AM PDT

This is part 2 of a mini-series on the UCI Esports Lab and their research topics.

This article features Craig G. Anderson, a doctoral candidate at the Esports Lab. His research topics focus on the cognitive influences of games, including the roles of failure and persistence in gaming. More information, including contact information, can be found at https://www.uciesportslab.org/.

What led you to become involved in esports research? What is your educational background?

I’ve been working with Profs. Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire for about five years;  we started in Madison, Wisconsin where we were initially researching educational games. It wasn’t until we moved to Irvine when our research started to change gears toward esports. I still study single player commercial games, but I can now start looking at the area of multiplayer competitive environments as well.

What questions are you looking to answer through your research?

My masters work was on “what makes video games engaging.” To that end, I made a low-fidelity version of Peggle and had people play it to find out if they still enjoyed playing and if they learned the core skills about the game (they only played half as much, and reported less engagement). There’s something about having success just out of reach that keeps players coming.  I then started to think about how failure is so common in games, and how games construct failure as something expected. I’m interested in looking at games like Dark Souls and Cuphead, notoriously difficult games that have a huge fanbase. Do playing these types change the way we think about failure, both in and outside of the game as well?

Today, my research focuses on how players react to failure in games. I come from a psychology background, so I’m interested in how video games make people think, and especially how they frame failure in comparison to other environments. One reason why esports is so interesting is because there are teammates that are relying on you to succeed with them as well — any failure can affect the whole team. Another interesting aspect as well is the spectators; do players react to failure differently when people are watching? If so, how?  

I am currently looking to watch testers play Cuphead and try to map the places where players are most likely to fail. I’m particularly interested in seeing if they persist, and also the reorientation strategies they use. What’s difficult about this is that the methodology hasn’t been done before. Researchers usually just survey their testers about their experiences, but I plan to actually observe the testers play the game. How long do players persist through failure? How many times do they fail, and how do they react to those failures? How many times do they try before they give up?

Who do you work with on a regular basis at the lab?

The lab was designed on purpose to encourage open, constant collaboration. Everyone talks across the table and gets the chance to collaborate with others on topics they find interesting. There are all kinds of people that work in the lab, from professors to graduate students, and even undergraduate and high school interns.

Outside the lab, our biggest project is NASEF, the high school esports league that also facilitates academic research. We work with the high school players to get gameplay footage that we might be able to refer to in our research, such as League of Legends mid lane players.

What is one of the most important things you’ve done in your time researching esports?

I am the co-chair for UCI’s Esports Conference (ESC). It was a huge amount of work, especially since ESC 2018 was the first-ever instance of it. The team spent a whole year planning the whole event, but it paid off! I’m happy that many people enjoyed it and want to go again next year, so even now we’re working on ESC 2019.

Where do you see esports (and/or research in the area) in five years?

As esports becomes more mainstream, I see it growing in popularity until it is on par with regular, traditional sports. Similarly, esports research will continue to grow, especially at UCI where the Informatics department and games studies is growing. I want to see UCI become the premier game studies university. Before Profs. Steinkuehler and Squire came, there were only three or four professors in the department studying anything games-related. Now that there are a lot of big names doing research here, the school is now attracting more and more games scholars.

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 6


by | May 24, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

This week, the Starcraft II, CS:GO, and Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural leagues continued their playoff stages.

Meanwhile, League of Legends wrapped up its season, naming team FMP the victor after 6 weeks of competition.

Scores for this week, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

The Starcraft II intramural has moved into its single-elimination playoff stage, with pairings for this week shown in the bracket below.

The updated bracket for the Starcraft intramurals.
Antis vs. Purity (3-0)
Veritas vs. Battletag(3-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

Winners’ Bracket 

The winners’ bracket will resume on May 25th once finalists are determined.


Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)

The Overwatch intramurals continued their season with rounds between Team of Rivia, KCM, Team Oatmeal, and Tomo no Kai.

Team of Rivia vs. Tomo No Kai (3-0)
KCM vs. Team Oatmeal (3-0)

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

SCRABBLENATOR vs. Be Falco(191-383)
MelGar vs. Wordster(304-395)
Selena vs. Damian(264-313)

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

The League of Legends intramural league has concluded, with team FMP crowned champion. Congratulations to all participating teams!


Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

The Swiss phase of the Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural league has officially ended. propelling the league into its playoff phase.

Neems vs. lolo(W-L)
jdawg899 vs. Kaboom(W-L)

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

Ant Killers vs. Free Agents(W-L)
AntKillers vs. For the Homies(W-L)

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 5


by | May 17, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

This week, the Starcraft II, CS:GO, and Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural leagues began their playoff stages.

Meanwhile, the League of Legends and FIFA leagues, whose playoffs began last week, are advancing quickly through their own playoffs.

Scores for this week, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

The Starcraft II intramural has moved into its single-elimination playoff stage, with pairings for this week shown in the bracket below.

The initial bracket for the single-elimination stage of the Starcraft II intramural. Both rounds 1 and 2 were played this week.

Both Rounds 1 and 2 were played consecutively.

Round 1

LilAznxDude vs. Saixiori (3-0) forfeit
FrozenFlame vs. Hyper2K (3-0)
Purity vs. Zonda(3-0) forfeit
Battletag vs. WattoizCool(3-0)

Round 2

Antis vs. LilAznxDude (3-0) forfeit
Veritas vs. FrozenFlame(3-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

Winners’ Bracket 

The winners’ bracket will resume on May 25th once finalists are determined.

Losers’ Bracket

rjecheve vs. cbatistaTBD
ksgeorge vs. ddeorlowTBD
ajayns vs. itulinTBD
desaidn vs. hshahdad TBD

FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

This week, shumayun and sylee10, the last players standing after four weeks of competition in the FIFA Xbox intramural league, competed for the championship title in the grand finals.

Congratulations to sylee10 on their victory in the grand finals!

sylee10 vs. shumayun1-0

Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)

The Overwatch intramurals continued their season with rounds between Wholesome Gamerz, Team of Rivia, KCM, Team Oatmeal, and Tomo no Kai.

The round-robin phase of the Overwatch intramurals ends May 26th.

Team of Rivia vs. Team Oatmeal(2-0)
KCM vs. Tomo No Kai(2-0)
Wholesome GamerzBYE

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

RNishi vs. SCRABBLENATOR(345-127)
Damian vs. MelGar(306-285)
Wordster vs. Selena(437-218)
Be Falco BYE

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

Round 2 of the League of Legends intramural playoff has concluded, leaving only two teams–YDC and FMP–standing for the grand finals next Wednesday.

YDC vs. Eternal Atake
2-1
FMP vs. CK1 T1
2-0

CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)

The CS:GO intramural league started its playoffs last Thursday. Matches are continuing in earnest between participant teams.

Results for this week are pending.

Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

The Swiss phase of the Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural league has officially ended. propelling the league into its playoff phase.

BitterSweet vs. MRDewitt(2-0)
Scrubby vs. MaxAttack(2-1)
Syn_Invictus vs. Cocanupples (2-0)
Neems vs. Ulleseit(2-1)
Quantuman vs. lolo(2-0)
dawg899 vs. MrGranadas(2-0)
Kaboom vs. M3RL1N (2-0)
.dkBYE

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

The last round in the placement stage of the Rainbow Six: Siege league has concluded. Playoffs begin next week.

ENYO vs. BF (1-0)
Ant Killers vs. Free Agents (1-0)
For the Homies vs. stonks (1-0)
WhiteGive vs. Tomo no Kai (1-0)

UCI Spring Intramurals Update – Week 4


by | May 10, 2020, 12:00PM PDT

During the week, the Starcraft II intramural league completed its Swiss phase, with Magic: The Gathering Arena and Rainbow Six Siege only a week behind.

Other leagues have already advanced to their playoff stages, with League of Legends and FIFA Xbox advancing steadily towards their respective grand finals.

Scores for this week, as well as updates for each league, can be found below.

In Progress

Starcraft II – Legacy of The Void (Mondays at 5PM)

Now that four weeks of competition in the Swiss portion of the Starcraft II intramurals have come and gone, the league is gearing up to move to its single-elimination playoffs.

The playoffs will pit participants against one another depending on their performance in the Swiss stage, with higher-scoring players matched with their lower-scoring counterparts.

WattoizCool vs. Saixiori(2-0) forfeit
Battletag vs. FrozenFlame(2-1)
Antis vs. Veritas(2-1)
TKD vs. Hyper2K(2-1)
Zonda vs. LilAznxDude(2-0)

FIFA PS4 (Mondays at 5 PM)

Winners’ Bracket 

acadena1 vs. tylerag(W-L)
ruihuaz1 vs. gerardph(W-L)

Losers’ Bracket

cbatista vs. bayrakca(W-L)
ddeorlow vs. sadjads(W-L)
ajayns vs. swkaplan(W-L)
desaidn vs. robledo(W-L)

FIFA XBox (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

After four weeks of tough competition, only one match remains in the FIFA Xbox intramural series. Next week, shumayun and sylee10, the last players standing, will compete for the championship title in the grand finals.

Losers’ Semi-Final

suselton vs. jhunter3(W-L)

Losers’ Final

shumayun vs. suselton(W-L)

Overwatch (Tuesdays at 5 PM)

The Overwatch intramurals continued their season with rounds between Wholesome Gamerz, Team of Rivia, KCM, Team Oatmeal, and Tomo no Kai.

The round-robin phase of the Overwatch intramurals ends May 26th.

Team Oatmeal vs. Wholesome Gamerz(2-0)
Team of Rivia vs. Tomo No Kai(2-0)
KCMBYE

Scrabble (Tuesdays at 6 PM)

Melgar vs. Be Falco(196-236)
C. BooCherry vs. Selena(236-287)
Torressa vs. RNishi(214-380)
Wordster vs. Damian(436-195)

League of Legends (Wednesdays at 7 PM)

The League of Legends intramural has advanced into its single-elimination playoff stage, where the top eight players from the qualifiers stage will compete for the championship title over the next three weeks.

CK1 T1 vs. NLR
2-0
FMP vs. Super Sleep Squad
2-1
Eternal Atake vs. COVID-202-0
YDC vs. Crackrity Crew
2-0

CS:GO (Thursdays at 6 PM)

The CS:GO intramural league continued into its third week last Thursday. Matches are continuing in earnest across Groups A and B, as teams compete for a spot in the upcoming playoffs.

GROUP A

Flash Me Long vs. Mark squad(W-L)
RushB UCI vs. For the Homies(W-L)
Sesh Hollow vs. CSGAMERS(W-L)

GROUP B

Team WLTDO vs. xXCloud6_9Xx (W-L)
ConslePeasnts vs. Team AWPful(W-L)
Eco Warriors vs. UCI Taekwondo(W-L)

Magic: The Gathering Arena (Wednesdays at 6 PM)

As the Swiss phase of the Magic: The Gathering Arena intramural league enters its fifth and final week, players’ scores are beginning to reflect their seeds in the upcoming playoffs.

The highest-scoring players following next week’s competition will be seeded lowest in the playoffs, while the lowest scorers will be assigned higher seeds.

Kaboom vs. MRDewitt(2-0)
Mr. Granadas vs. Scrubby(2-0)
Quantuman vs.Cocanupples (2-0)
Ulleseit vs.lolo(2-1)
Neems vs. Maxattack (2-0)
 .dk vs. Bittersweet (2-0)
jdawg899 vs. M3RL1N (2-0)
Syn_Invictus BYE

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Fridays at 5 PM) 

One round remains in the placement stage of the Rainbow Six: Siege league.

WhiteGive vs. BF (1-0)
Ant Killers vs. Tomo no Kai (1-0)
ENYO vs. stonks (1-0)
For the Homies vs. Free Agents (1-0)