Monday, September 28, 2015

An Article of Substance: eSports In the Olympics: Where Do We Stand?

last week I decided that I needed to start getting some articles published that aren't completely silly. I landed on writing about games in the Olympics and thought I'd make little thing that was page or two long that would give me a chance to look into the matter and report back.

Upward of 15 hours later, I have this monster of an article. I also happen to know so much more about the Olympic process than I ever have. A few times while writing, I felt like a 4th grader writing a report. But here it is. It appeared in Issue #30 of The Weekly All In as the headlining article. More details at the bottom.

A few weeks ago, the unlikeliest of all men, my father, who I have never seen willingly play a videogame in my life, genuinely asked me if eSports would ever be an Olympic event.

This is not a new topic among video gaming enthusiasts, as competitive gaming is as old as video gaming itself. Tennis for Two, which is frequently given the title of the first video game, pit two players against each other in a competitive match. As competitive gaming continues to gain momentum (and people still watch more than Hulu), this is a topic that will increasingly pass through the minds of more than just gamers. If my father can stop and wonder and ask if eSports could make it to the Olympics, the pinnacle of all competitive sports, anyone can.

But what about…?

Is holding a high score really worth a gold medal? Is winning a game of StarCraft or Heroes of the Storm or Hearthstone really worthy of that kind of recognition? Do the majority of gamers even care to see competitive gaming at the Olympic level?
The hallmark of any discussion of gaming in the Olympic Games are the questions. StarCraft in the Olympic Games sure sounds awesome to me, but how would it be done? Is it “athletic” enough? Which video games would be played? Who would get to play? How is the balance/rules decided for each game? Won’t the owners of the game get a bunch of free advertizing and make a ton of money? What about hacking and other forms of cheating?

There are many philosophical and logistical obstacles keeping eSports out of the international mainstream. Let’s discuss some of the biggest ones. Also, I’ll be assuming that eSports is going for the summer games for this article, although winter would work too.

How Would It Even Be Done?

The manner in which a sport is included in the Olympic Games is changing. Long and complicated story short: there are going to be 28 sports in the 2016 Summer Games. Of those 28, 25 are “safe” sports that will definitely be at the 2020 Summer Games in Japan and will persist to future games as well unless something drastic (decreased popularity, very large scandals, etc) happens. The remaining three are non-core sports. In the case of the 2020 Games, there eight more sports attempting to gain admittance as a non-core sport: baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing, and wushu.

Esports would have to put together a bid as a non-core sport with a set list of “events” that cover each of the games and/or game modes to be played. A bid would also probably include rulesets, a description of the equipment required and its cost, a plan for how competitors will be chosen, as well as some kind of justification for why eSports merits a place in the Olympics. A simple majority is all that is required by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, to approve the bid. How likely is that? Impossible, at least in the short term.

Japan is one of the more video game-friendly countries in the world, but the eSports scene is not as developed as in America, Europe, or Korea. And, unfortunately, it’s the IOC and not the people of Japan that need to be convinced. Furthermore, it’s already too late to try and get eSports included in 2020. The IOC won’t cast their deciding votes until 2016, just before the start of the  Games in Rio de Janeiro, but the final presentations for those sports already in the running will take place on September 30th. We’re looking at 2024 or 2028 at best.

Are Video Games Physical Enough?

Day9 famously describes StarCraft in the following way, “StarCraft requires the dexterity of a pianist, the mind of a chess grandmaster, and the discipline of an Olympic trainee. We believe that our game, StarCraft, is as dynamic and exciting a spectator sport as any other.” If we use sports like archery and shooting as a standard, it is very easy to think of StarCraft, DOTA 2, or Counter Strike in the Olympic Games. The spectatorship for League of Legends especially is very convincing, having once achieved 32 million viewers for one event.

The highest level of these games require world-class dedication, strategy and dexterity as well as being physically demanding. Other popular games...not so much. For example, Hearthstone, despite it’s popularity (and fun factor), I think a digital card game would be a hard sell. In short, I think some video games would be more welcome than others.

Who Would Play?

the International e-Sport Federation, which has been around for several years now (see, but isn’t very prominenent, would determine who would play.  International sport federations exist for every sport. They supervise play at the international level, recognize and encourage up-and-coming athletes, and choose their own method of granting admittance to Olympic competition.

For the current Olympic sports, there are multiple ways that athletes make it to the Olympic Games. Some sports require that athletes be selected for a national team, which competes in qualifiers until a final set of teams “make it” to the Olympics. Others are able to rely on a ranking system based on their performance in recent, non-Olympic, competitions. There are already events that use these same methods in the gaming world. The eSports big wigs would simply have to pick one and go with it.

Who Decides the Balance/Rules?

The International e-Sport Federation would decide how the games are played. There would have to be a discussion as to whether the Federation would simply to defer to the developer’s current rules/balance, or to adjust it to suit the intended audience (only the best players in the world). I believe it’s unlikely that game balance would be left completely in the hands of Blizzard, Valve, or any other private entity, as they have to appeal to the entire playerbase. The balance and rules within each game would also probably have to be solidified months before the games are actually played, which the developers may not want to be held to.

These alternate rules would, of course, be very similar to default ones. In the case of a game like StarCraft, that would likely consist of choosing the map pool, game speed, finally nerfing Adepts, and do something with Colossi.

This may chafe the developers of each game a little, but that’s how it works for most sports. I assume that developers would also be encouraged to add some kind of in-game consideration for players who want to play the international version of the game. A special “Official Olympic Mod” and matchmaking sounds like the natural place to start (should we ever get that far).

Facilitating the Games

Running an eSports event, especially with multiple games, is expensive. But is it that expensive? Assuming that a new building specifically to facilitate the eSports competitions does not have to be built, eSports would automatically become one of the least-expensive events to run in the entire Olympic Games.

One pricey facet of running a tournament: paying for player transportation, room, and board, would not be the responsibility of the Olympics at all. That responsibility is on the competitors themselves, although they frequently receive assistance from sponsors, their team, or even their government.

Gone also would be the cost of a prize pool. The only prize awarded by the IOC itself is the medal. Some federations will also pay a monetary reward for each medal won, depending on their place on the podium. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game developer contributed or crowd-sourced a prize of some kind as well, just to make things more exciting. But on the whole, this is another cost that would be avoided.

The largest cost would be the cost of the “production,” meaning the computers, the cameras, the screens, the network to get all the computers wired together, and then the bandwidth to broadcast it all. It would cost at least a couple hundred thousand dollars. I haven’t been able to get an exact number of any particular source for an event of this size, but this seems like a safe estimate. And, while it may sound like a lot, it really isn’t that much compared to the cost of the other games. Plus, I’m sure that would be easily covered with ticket sales and streaming subscriptions.

All in all, none of the organizational challenges seem all that hard to overcome. We just need to knuckle down and do it. But there’s still one massive elephant in the room that will need to be addressed before any progress can be made: Money.

Won’t Blizzard/Riot/Valve Make a TON of money from this?

YES. The answer to this is ABSOLUTELY YES. Having a privately-owned game in the Olympic Games  would result in a huge amount of free advertising and revenue for the game and its developer. If the company is publically traded, just the announcement would result in a huge spike in share values. It would affect the entire gaming market. Careers and companies would be made or broken by securing or being passed over for a coveted slot on the eSports event list.

It’s only fair for a business to make money from their product, but no one entity owns soccer (or football, if you insist), diving, or any other Olympic sport or event. They transcend ownership, which puts eSports at odds with every other sport. It stands to reason that if eSports were to be admitted, each game would be played fully on the terms of the IOC and the Federation, outside the influence of, and without any direct benefit to, any outside league or for-profit business.

How to Take Money Out of Sports?

This brings us to the question that I cannot answer alone. How do we remove the unmatchable profitability that would surely come to the few developers who were able to get their game in the Olympics? (And curtail the corruption and cheating that would be sure to follow?)

Is it as simple as the developer agreeing to put their game into the public domain if it is selected? That could be too harsh. Maybe the studio just agrees to donate all revenue from that game, and any promotional content related to the Olympics, for a specific period of time (say, from the date of the announcement of its inclusion in the Olympic Games until the end of the Closing Ceremonies)? Maybe a non-profit Federation version of the game is created that the developer agrees to support but not profit from?

My recommendation at this time would have to be the donation of revenues route. Given the iterative nature of videogames, it wouldn’t be fair for a company to completely lose their intellectual property over one game that will probably only be in one or two Olympics at most before being replaced by a sequel or something entirely different  Also, it would be important for the recipient of the donation to be an organization that is not owned or overseen by the Olympic Committee or the Federation to maintain the separation of interest. Neither the developers nor the Olympic bodies should get the money if a conflict of interest is to be avoided.

A Bright Future

The greatest of all the obstacles keeping eSports out of the world’s largest international sporting competition is, most likely, the perception that videogaming is a complete waste of time, and only braindead manboys do it. However, that perception is changing.  

It’s only a matter of time before spectating competitive gaming becomes as prominent as traditional sports and, when that time comes, people will stop asking what if? and begin to ask why isn’t eSports in the Olympics?

After writing this beast, I have two major questions.

1. Summer or Winter Games? It could really go with either one. I think we should just go with whatever we can get, frankly. Shooting and archery could go into either, I guess. Maybe Winter sports really do have to be Winter-specific. Whatever.

2. Are people interested in the No-money route? I'm not sure there's ever been a long running international non-profit sporting organisation that wasn't hugely corrupted. I imagine that my ideals of trying to keep all of the money out of the event to maintain purity in competition and event selection wouldn't actually be shared by the primary stakeholders in the conversation (The federations and the game developers). It's a shame.

"An Article of Substance" is a reference to Nicolas, who, during our meetings, will listen to us pitch idiot silly ideas for 30 minutes and then ask "and who will write an article of substance?" Then it gets quiet.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

MiniDrama: President Obama Changes Name of the Disrupter

Better late then never.

As part of his first, and probably only, trip to the state of Alaska, President Barack Obama has officially renamed the Disruptor back to its native name of "Reaver."

"Well you know," Mr. Obama said in an exclusive interview with The Weekly All In, "I figured I was on a roll with Denali, so I might as well keep going. These kinds of things take forever when you try to go through official channels. I figured I might as well knock out a few more while I'm at it. Look out 'Mid to High Masters' players, you're next!"

Hundreds of thousands rejoice at the announcement. One forum poster said "All we ever wanted was the Reaver to begin with. I'm so glad that Our President was able to make it happen. The Disruptor just wasn't going anywhere and they keep making it more and more like the Reaver. Might as well just call it that!"

However, not all are pleased with Obama's decision, nor the way in which he chose to enact it. "It is not the place of the President to just up and make decisions about StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void," responded a Blizzard spokesperson, "I don't care if it's hugely popular and what we should have just done all along, or if players have been calling it the Reaver for months, HE doesn't get to decide! And what about the disparity in unit models? What can possibly be done to reconcile the difference?"

We will continue to post updates as they come through, but it looks as though the change is here to stay. Players seem well-pleased with the change. One incredibly lucid and believable player wrote, "Yeah...every since it changed, I just 'get' it now. I know how to harass with it. I know where it fits into the army composition. Turns out it really was all in a name. The Reaver has just really come together now."

President Obama continues his trip in Alaska for another couple days. Should he make any more announcements about Blizzard games, you'll hear about it first at The Weekly All In!

I wrote this some weeks ago when the Weekly All In was on a brief break. I could have just posted it more or less as it is, but I wanted to photoshop some pictures of Pres. Obama in front of Exit Glacier with little Reavers and Distruptors on it. Unfortunately, I never got around to it, and then I missed the window for the joke to be relevant in any way.

I've still not gotten around to it, but I'm tired of seeing it just sit around. So now it's here. I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ded Gaem: Hacked article and details

The Weekly All In continues on its break while Nicolas has some other projects to finish.

Anyway, this is the article from issue 28. Notes and commentary about the article's evolution are at the bottom.

A wave of crippling panic has swept over the nation, nay, the world in the last few weeks as hack after hack exposes the secrets that ne'er-do-wells all over thought could never be discovered. The most recent of these hacks targeted none other than our favorite StarCraft personalities in their Ded Gaem mansion, lovingly referred to as “Sanctuary,” in southern California.

Only Vague Responses from Blizzard

“We are aware of the situation and we are already working on a fix for it,” stated an official spokesmen from Blizzard’s department of non-game game-related content. “We’ve begun internal testing on the matter and we’ll have the fix out soonTM.” This response has, understandably, not done much to alleviate the worries of the “Ded Gaem” gamers.  

“If I wanted the entire world to read my emails, I’d just let TigerLily back on my computer” lamented a livid Destiny. “I can’t understand the incompetence of Blizzard on matters like this. How could the house be hacked? Why wouldn’t they be monitoring our security? Why would they allow some creep to just park across the street and hack into our network and steal all of our information? I’m going to have to change ALL of my passwords! Do you know how long that’s going to take? I was on the phone with a Blizzard tech support guy earlier today, I’ve never talked so fast in my life, and that STILL didn’t fix it!”

Private Lives Exposed

Some of the gamers were pretty forthcoming with the information that was stolen. “Yeah, it’s a shock, but I’ve got nothing to hide,” said a beaming DesRow. “I’ve been very good since we started living here at Sanctuary. The only thing they’re going to find from me is a whole bunch of Reddit traffic and some StarCraft things. I worry about WinterBOT though. He’s made a the tough decision to use his “Dirty Ded Gaem Dollars: The Reality Show Currency” to become a real, human, boy and he’s done a lot of research into it here on our network. I really feel for the guy, he wasn’t ready to make it public yet.”

Other gamers were not so eager to have their recent activities revealed. It could even disrupt the future of their careers. “Yes, it’s all very upsetting,” Naniwa was overheard saying on the phone, while I listened from the bushes near his open window. “They were getting everything. All of our Skype convos. All of our emails. All of our search history. Pretty soon the entire internet’s going to know about the gourmet cupcake shop I’ve been planning. ‘Nani’s Nummies’ will never be a success without the proper marketing and now it’s ruined!”

His voice began to crack, as did my knees, but he continued, “They even got all of the get-well-soon DM’s I sent to Jimmy Fallon when he injured his finger. EVERYTHING.” He must have moved away from the window at this point, because I couldn’t hear anything else. This was just as well, however, as my feet had begun to fall asleep. On a clarifying note, I’m just nosey, not the hacker. I can hardly format a Reddit post.

Irreparable Damage

So far, the following shameful secrets have been dug up about each of the gamersDesRow: Apparently sent a lovely card to each Rifkin and Zombiegrub after Hell It’s Aboot Time.WinterBOT: Had the foresight to renew his warranty for the next two years. Research into becoming a real boy. Many viewings of “Pinocchio” on Netflix. Naniwa: Baking sites. Weekly emails to his mother so she doesn’t worry.Destiny: Correspondence indicating that he’s been volunteering at a homeless shelter and after school programs for low-income children who want to learn technical skills.TigerLily: Due to her unfortunate habits of sharing personal information, there was literally nothing that the hackers uncovered that she had not already make public herself. 

Reputations on the Line 

“We fully understand the potential fallout from this kind of situation,” the Blizzard spokesperson reiterated, “if word gets out that the online persona of these guys is really just a persona, it could be cataclysmic to their careers. What would Destiny be if he weren’t just a foul-mouthed fast-talker on the internet, but really a normal do-gooder on the side? Catastrophe! We’re going to find who did this, and then we’re going to say that we’re going to do something about it!”

Blizzard Taking a Firm Stance

When I pressed for clarification on what would happen to the hacker(s), I was interrupted by a man dressed all in blue, leaning on a blue post, who seemed to be making the same, somewhat unnatural movement over and over. He didn’t look at me when he spoke, but passed me. He said, “The user who did this will be banned, in accordance with the User End License Agreement that he or she agreed to at the time of purchase of the Ded Gaem Gawker and Paparazzi Parking Pass and Virtual Ticket. They will not be allowed near the premises of Sanctuary again.

I asked what would happen if the hacker were to just purchase a new parking pass and do the whole thing over again, but the blue person remained silent despite being asked multiple questions for clarification until another reporter asked what would happen to the in-game items that had been bundled with the pass of the hacker once they were banned.

The Blue Man replied, “The forthcoming in-game items bundled with the Ded Gaem Gawker and Paparazzi Parking Pass and Virtual Ticket, namely, The World of WarCraft TigerLily Skype Battle Pet, The Real Boy Winter Hearthstone cardback, The Destiny Story of the Good Samaritan skin for The Lost Vikings in Heroes of the Storm, The DesRow Still Competes In Things StarCraft II Portrait, and the Naniwa’s Nummies ‘Better Than Whimsyshire Cupcake’ Health Globe reskin for Diablo III will all be removed from their account unless they create a new account and repurchase the bundle.

No further questions were taken.

I had a pretty hard time getting this article finished. I knew I wanted to do something involved with the revelation of incriminating personal information in the wake of the Ashley Madison hack. My first thought would be to use the names of some of the StarCraft Reddit trolls emails hacked to reveal all of the nice things they say in the personal correspondence, and that would be the "scandal." But after thinking about it a bit, it didn't seem like enough for a whole post.

Thinking about it a bit more, I looked into the approach of having their GGTracker accounts "exposed" to reveal that none of them actually play the game anymore, and when they did, all they did was hokey stuff, like the WoL campaign on easy and 6-pooling every matchup. I even did my very first Twitter tease image for it to try and drum up what little hype I could.

But then that got more complicated, because it turns out that not only are pretty much all replays on GGTracker public, but you can even import them into Spawning Pool to see what builds they used. So at this point there wouldn't even need to be a hack, unless the hackers got information through for some reason, which seemed like a whole new can of worms.

After some more brain storming with my wife, I decided it would probably be the most-entertaining and least convoluted if I used real StarCraft personalities, and went back to the "nice" scandal, which lead directly into a second Ded Gaem article.

I didn't want to do that at first, as it seemed like too much of a rehash, not to mention the fact that none of the people in the Ded Gaem had actually caused a stink lately (the original leaked info for TigerLily was "Meh. Who cares?" because I couldn't think of a single thing to say about her). Plus, it was like 11:30 PM on Sunday and there was no way there could be good art done in time.Eventually, I decided just to get it done because we had a release to Prod the next morning at work and I needed to get this sucker over with.

Much to my surprise, I think it turned out pretty well. I really like the idea of Destiny doing a lot of community service and volunteering in outreach programs when he isn't straming. I have never interacted with directly with Destiny before, so I honestly don't know much about him other than what he chooses to portray online. I also generally assume that people are Good until proven otherwise. So the thought of him having a double life of do-goodery is a happy thought.

I'm also super proud of that "blue post" personified bit at the end. I'm not sure the execution was that great, but I feel like that's a good new source of material. I really liked the parking pass idea too, because it really tunes right into the Cross-product marketing that Blizzard has (understandably) been pushing more and more.

I'm not so happy with WinterBOT in this article. I really wanted to work him in more, as opposed to just informing the reader through other people. However, I didn't have time to really do him justice. Originally, I wrote that he was scheduling surgery to "transition" into a real boy, but decided to change it in favor of the safer option. My last article was about gender issues in StarCraft, it didn't seem like a good idea to jump back into it again.

Anyway, that's the story of this article. Thanks for reading, and tell your friends about The Weekly All In!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drama of the Week Debrief: Grills Streaming

So the Weekly All In is taking a two week break while Nicolas has some other projects to finish.
This, of course, leaves me with a bit more free time on my hands than usual. Going to try and get a little hit ahead and do some mini features.

The grilling article from Issue 27 is THE article I've been wanting to write since we first started the paper. I actually pitched it for a fake ad in one of our first planning meetings, but I think Nicolas must have misunderstood me, because he wrote it off as sexist at the time, but was very gung-ho when I suggested it as a Drama of the Week a few weeks ago. I'm super happy with the result. Details after the text. Props to the people who catch the Pride & Prejudice reference.

A report of a most alarming nature reached me two day ago. Not only that grills of every kind all around the world were suffering untold prejudice as they attempt to stream StarCraft, but that I, Mike Harrell, was to become the champion to their righteous cause. A response in the affirmative was demanded. Needless to say, I was speechless except to say that I had no idea what they were talking about.  

For the next several seconds, I became forcefully acquainted with the plight of many grills, new, old, gas, electric, were being subjected to gross injustice. As the drama writer for the world’s #1 digital esports magazine, I feel it is my duty to make the community aware of the plight of thousands of would-be professional streamers who are constantly belittled and objectified, and that’s when they’re given a chance at all. And why? Because they’re cooking appliances. 

Grills, not Girls 

First, we will highlight the dreams and struggles of my own grill, who wishes to be known only by its StarCraft II handle, “DatGrill.” On its invitation, I went out back behind my home to check out its setup and see for myself the kinds of unique issues that it has to deal with on a daily basis.  

It began immediately in the very first game. DatGrill gave the standard “GLFH” and its opponent responded with “Girl?” DatGrill gave its canned response, as it has done so many times in the past, “grill.” The would-be casanova responded with, I kid you not, “hi baby.” Fortunately Player 2’s attempts at forming a romantic relationship ended there, but, as feeble as it was, it represents yet another member of the StarCraft community who doesn’t understand the difference between a girl and grill.  

“I mean, so I look feminine to you?” DatGrill lamented, “Do I even look like a human being? I’ve got friggin FIRE coming out of my insides! Some noobs eat cheetos and drink Redbull while they ladder. I ignite and evenly distribute methane gas to roast chicken, burgers, and ribs all day long. Let’s see one of you nerds manage to do that from your mother’s basement while you marinate in your own farts.”  

Marginalization of the Marinader 

When it’s not blatant speciesism, it’s out of control marginalization of the accomplishments of appliances. The most popular streaming grill, “Georgie4,” is always on the defensive. “When I hit GM for the first time, do you know what people said to me?” Georgie4 vented, “That I must have been boosted by a human. I can’t even understand why they would said such a thing. I hit GM live on stream! It’s just blatant prejudice. And when it isn’t an accusation that I can’t play as well as I do, it’s people saying that I ought to go back out to the patio, or worse, that I shouldn’t even try.”

Indeed, just like some of the other marginalized members of the community, many people say that if a grill can make GM, it must not be much of an accomplishment after all. “That’s BS!” sizzled Georgie4, “I make GM every season now, which only 200 people do. And somehow that means I’m not good? I’m in GM! That’s the definition of being good! And I don’t even have limbs! Those hypocrites on Reddit can go eat tofu.”
Yes, the old arguments continue to make their rounds: Why would I watch a grill stream when I can watch a real pro? Why would I watch a grill when I could watch a human? Why would I watch a grill stream when I could watch grillz strimming? It seems to have no ending. 

Eyes on the game, not the meat 

“The worst of it is when the accusations about appearance start up.” Georgie4 continued, “I was roasting up some bacon a few weeks ago and my owner left my lid open and you could see...pretty much everything I’ve got going on in there. You would have thought the world exploded. Every single troll on Twitch was in my chatroom accusing me of just trying to use my body and my bacon to get viewers.  

I’m a grill. I’m not ashamed of what I am. Yes, I’m what you would probably call a ‘larger’ model. Yes, I have a non stick surfaces. Yes, I cut down on grease. Yes, said grease will drip into my tray while the cooking is going on. It’s completely natural people. It’s not that I need to change myself to keep from offending you, it’s that you need to grow up. I get viewers from my gameplay and commentary. Everything else that you see is just gravy (which you could easily make using those same drippings).” 

Fire in the bones, but also the keyboard 

On top of all this, there are further handicaps that of grill streamers overcome: like the fact that there’s freaking fire everywhere.  

“It’s something that you learn to live with very quickly,” lamented DatGrill, “but safety must always come first. As a matter of fact, we’ve created a safety checklist to try and cut down on the number of ruined dinners (and builds).” I took a gander at the checklist. It was a lot less exciting than I’d hoped.  

#1: Keep clean to avoid flare ups. #2: Insulate to avoid melting the computer hardware.#3: Set a timer to avoid burning food. #4: If you must use an extension cord, be sure to use only heavy duty, all weather, cords.  

“Well what did you expect, that we would tell grills that they should just be flaming people all day?” rebuffed DatGrill when I asked for some clarification, “No, we’re just like your average stove or oven. We just like pwning noobs while we go about our business. And yes, every grill has a story about the time things got out of hand and that $100 Razor mouse that became a melting fireball and put the kibosh on a family reunion. But the fact of the matter is we wouldn’t be in either of these businesses if we didn’t have skins of iron on the outside and smoky, delicious, #passion on the inside.”

In case there is one person in the StarCraft community who doesn't know exactly where the idea for this comes from, I'll explain it now. There was spambot from chatrooms that is now long gone, but the legacy of referring to girls as "grills" remains. Originally, the bot would put in a message like, 'See hot girls streaming!" accompanied by a link that was certainly to download malware or something. Once Twitch started getting wise and began to block the message, the message changed to "See hot girls strimming.", and then to "See hot grills strimming." and so forth until it was finally blocked altogether.

"Hot grillz strimming" always left an image in my head of a gas grill playing StarCraft while cooking something, using tongs and a brush for arms and whatnot.

I'm a pretty happy guy anytime I get to make a stupid pun, and this article was just BEGGING for them. Holy crap I had a good time writing this article. the more puns, the merrier! All of the photos of the grills are, of course, from my back yard and kitchen. And we ate the food shown in the pictures. Truth be told, I actually made two attempts on the grill + laptop shot. I had hotdogs at first (from lunch) but they didn't look substantial enough. So I ended up taking pics again with the chicken (from dinner). I think the chicken is definitely the better picture.

The in-game text pictured and mentioned in the article was the result of my trying to build a "DatGrill" account as quickly as I could for screenshots. I didn't want to the account level to just be 1, so I played a couple of games against the AI and did the 5 placement matches. I kid you not, the very first game I played against a person resulted in me getting hit on by some idiot. I couldn't believe it. Unfortunately for the story, he shut up and proceeded to drop mines into my worker lines. However, there was definitely enough there to add to the story itself.

Finally, I'm glad I got to show off some of my own StarCraft swag in the webcam photo as well. The autographed Wings of Liberty, unfortunately, came from eBay, as I didn't attend the launch event and I didn't buy a Collector's Edition right off the bat. That said, I'm still extremely proud of it. I got those stupid SWAG glasses at a Claire's a couple years ago looking for a gift for my niece. My son's high chair is in there too because I thought it sold the idea of a George Foreman playing games from its natural habitat even better.

I think that's about it for this post. As always, thanks for reading, and be sure to tell your friends about The Weekly All In!