Armchair Olympian

Try to outdo Olympian athletes from the comfort of your armchair

With the majority of the 2016 Rio Olympics now behind us, it’s easy to feel a little inadequate. Michael Phelps has now won more Olympic gold medals than anyone in 2,000 years; Simone Manuel made history on Thursday when she became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming; and 19-year-old Simone Biles won three-for-three gold medals in the first week and won her fourth on Tuesday, making her the first U.S. gymnast to ever win four Olympic gold medals. As Olympians prove their supreme athletic prowess, you prove just how many hours you can sit…

Sausage Sports Club

Sausage Sports Club, because sports need more wiener animals

Chris Wade is a night owl. He typically won’t start doing his contract work for other games (Manifold Garden and Battle Chef Brigade, among others) and on developer tools until 1 or 2AM, when the rest of the world is asleep. But if Chris Wade wasn’t a night owl, maybe there’s a chance Sausage Sports Club—now funding on Kickstarter—wouldn’t exist. “Often when I’m up that late and I’ve been working on side projects, I’ll find my mind wandering from the project and onto weird places on the internet,” Wade told me. “I feel like that’s probably pretty common.” He’ll watch…


Videoball brings fair play back to the couch

I didn’t know what a metagame was until I got to college, but I didn’t really need to. Playing multiplayer games on the couch with my cousins, we’d concoct all sorts of techniques and strategies that weren’t explicitly outlined in the manuals. In Worms 2 (1997), we all fought against each other using only a couple of choice weapons, despite the game’s massive arsenal: the Holy Hand Grenade was devastating and hilarious, the Super Sheep offered range and control, and the Ninja Rope gave us all the mobility we wanted. This is probably not the competitive Worms 2 metagame (I’ve…


The new, silliest sport is Giraffe Volleyball

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. GIRAFFES VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 (Windows, Mac) BY SANDWICH PUISSANT The problem with many sports is that they’re taken too seriously. Competition is king in the land of sports. It drives violent rivalries, absurdly detailed post-match breakdowns, discussions of people as integers as if they were made in a factory to dispense sporting performance. For a long time this stern-faced attitude dominated sports videogames, but more recently, the genre has found its silly side. Giraffes Volleyball Championship 2016 is the latest sports game to…


Dota 2 might be nearing its Moneyball moment

In one of the most famous single season performances in Major League Baseball history, the 2002 Oakland Athletics won a league-topping 105 games on a paltry $33 million budget. Their secret? Sabermetrics—that is, the use of statistical analysis, rather than subjective judgement, to evaluate players’ relative strengths and weaknesses. The value of this kind of analysis is rather self-evident now, but, in 2002, the notion that the right statistics were more reliable than the best scouts was heresy. Even today, some remain wary of teams that use sabermetrics. As the old timers say, they’re not playing baseball; they’re playing moneyball.…


Steep will let you cheat death by never risking it in the first place

Listen. Me and heights? We don’t have what I’d describe as an amiable relationship. If you try to shuffle your house party on to the roof, I’m going to be the square making a case for couches and kitchen access. And the surge of GoPro stunt videos? I think the only reason I can white knuckle through them is because their very publication guarantees the daredevil survived. If you live your life in a flying squirrel suit just to thread the needle of a rock formation that’s the result of centuries of climate and sediment conditioning, and not designed as…

Rocket League

Soccer tactics and the evolution of Rocket League

Soccer as we know it has undergone several modifications since its earliest stages. Back in 1529, a soccer-esque sport called ‘Calcio Fiorentino’ was being played between two teams with 27 players each in the Piazza Santa Croce, a famous plaza in front of a basilica in Florence, Italy. The players used this game to solve their political differences in a match full of violence and intensity. These differences were normal back in 16th century Italy, when competition was more a matter of showing superiority and dominance over a rival group—as in matches between aristocratic families and gangs that dominated different…


The loneliness of the professional gamer

If you haven’t heard of Jonathan Sutak, producer and director of The Foreigner, a new documentary about professional StarCraft II (2010), you can take solace in knowing that you’ve probably seen some of his work. Not, mind you, the two independent dramas—Up The River (2015), a romance, and Don’t Worry Baby (2015), a comedy—he’s produced; you haven’t seen those. What you have seen are the many trailers and TV spots he’s edited, for films as far afield as Everest (2015) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). If not exactly a Hollywood insider, Sutak nevertheless approaches filmmaking from the perspective of…

Intel Extreme Masters

What happens to the young, retired stars of esports?

When Dennis “Thresh” Fong was growing up, there was no such thing as a ‘professional gamer’. He was sixteen when he started playing DOOM (1993), but wasn’t competing for anything other than the thrill of victory. Aside from hustling chumps at the local arcade, nobody was making money by playing games. “A professional gamer is anyone who makes money, even winning 10 bucks on a Street Fighter game at Seven-Eleven,” joked Nick Allen, the panel moderator of “The Professional Gamer” at GDC 2016. That notion should seem quaint; at the Capcom Cup in 2015, the final prize pool for Ultra Street…