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Nike Announced Partnership With E-Sports League, LPL

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Nike announced its partnership with LPL

Nike, who is the official apparel provider of some NBA Teams and BF Barcelona, announced that it would be the first sports apparel brand that will partner with a significant e-sport league after it sealed a deal with League of Legends Pro League (LPL), Feb 28.

LOL Pro League is China’s most prominent professional export company and is set to compete in this year’s world championships. The deal, which makes Nike the league’s official apparel provider, includes clothing, sneakers, and eventually, team jerseys.

League of Legends Pro League announced that the first Nike-designed team jersey would be unveiled and launched in the 2019 League of Legends World Championship to be held in Paris, late this year.

After it’s 2013 debut, LPL grew to 16 current teams playing under the league, with bigtime sponsors like Mercedes-Benz. The league has become famous after one of its organization, Invictus Gaming, becomes the first Chinese team to win a world championship. The league is also considering a pioneer of some sort, as it has teams that are based on specific cities with their own home arenas.

The deal is set to be a landmark in the e-sports industry. While sports brand like Champion and K-Swiss have signed deals with individual teams and players, the Nike deal with LPL is the first league-wide sponsorship that is signed in e-sport history.

As the e-sport industry has grown teams, players, and leagues have emulated their traditional counterparts in different ways. For example, teams like 100 Thieves have made apparel merchandising part of their business.

“Our unprecedented partnership with Nike will enable LPL teams and players to continue to shine on the world stage,” Leo Lin, co-CEO of LPL operator TJ Sports, said in a statement. “E-sports is a digital sport, and collaboration with Nike will push it to new heights.”

The LPL says that the partnership with Nike will also extend beyond jerseys and shoes. “Nike will also cooperate with the LPL teams and e-sports players to design professional physical training programs,” the league explains. “This is to help the players build a stronger physique and more stamina so they can adapt to the increasing high-intensity competition.”

With the popularity of e-sport reaching unprecedented heights, many analysts and business experts have suggested that the once small industry has grown to look like traditional sports.

They noted that the biggest profession e-sports leagues have the same characteristics as that of traditional sports leagues – they are run by wealthy, big-money owners, with structured schedules, minimum salary, and other benefits for players.

The Verge reported that it started very slowly but has now grown into a multibillion-dollar industry.

“The transformation started slowly, with European soccer clubs signing professional FIFA players to represent their teams in the competition. Eventually, these clubs expanded their influence; German soccer team Schalke 04 operates a League of Legends team in the European pro circuit, while French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain has its own Rocket League team. In 2016, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers became the first major North American team to get into the field when it acquired e-sports group Team Dignitas.”

The appeal of e-sports is tough to miss especially when in recent years, viewers and money are continuously flowing inside their bubble.

According to market analyst group Newzoo, the global market for e-sports is expected to top $922 million in 2018, with an estimated 221 million fans across the world. Significant events like Valve’s Dota 2 tournament The International have made headlines with ever-increasing numbers. In 2017, the tournament’s crowdfunded prize purse was more than $24 million, and more than 400,000 people watched the final matches on Twitch.

“As those splashy numbers attracted groups from traditional sports to the competitive gaming landscape, those groups, in turn, are changing that landscape in significant ways.” The Verge added.

For many owners, who reportedly paid $20 million fees to be part of gaming leagues, the familiar structure similar to established traditional sports league like NBA was comforting because the business model has been proven.

“That consistency and stability are essential for what we’re endeavoring to do,” says Nate Nanzer, commissioner of the Overwatch League, “which is to build a forever sport.” /apr

A Consumer Tech and Cybersecurity journalist who does content marketing while daydreaming about having unlimited coffee for life and getting a pet llama.

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Microsoft, Google, And Sony Invests In Artificial Intelligence For The Future Of Gaming

Microsoft, Google, and Sony partners to develop new AI technologies that will expand the gaming experience. The plan includes combining tools such as Sony's image sensor to Azure's AI Tech. Click To Tweet

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Sont and Microsoft partnership that will combine Sony hardware and Microsoft's Azure AI. How Azure is shaping gaming's future and how AI is helping fund more jobs for the future.
Microsoft Azure Logo. From: Azure.microsoft.com

Artificial Intelligence technology and its development intend to focus not only on household products like smart home services nor the future of road safety like Tesla’s electric vehicles. AI is broadly encompassing and it’s also taking over gaming.

In a press release, Microsoft announced that it would be working alongside long-time competitor Sony in developing new tech for user’s gaming experience through AI technology. Specifically, through Microsoft’s intuitive Azure cloud computing platform.

“Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, we provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, president, and CEO of Sony.

Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO, Sony Corporation (left), and Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

Microsoft and Sony will work on semiconductor chips and AI technology, particularly combining Sony-made image sensors with Azure’s AI tech. They will also develop cloud solutions that will supposedly “deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers.” Sony will also use Azure’s data centers for its gaming and streaming services.

Moreover, Microsoft and Sony have introduced the idea of an instantaneous gaming experience through PlayStation Now and Project xCloud, respectively. Users can download or stream games without the need of a console and play with other players online. Think about Netflix, but for gaming.

Also, Google has also been teasing about its version of the cloud-based gaming technology that it calls Stadia for a couple of months now.

Google Stadia

On other news, Microsoft Azure is the crucial ingredient in making Minecraft Earth a possibility. Microsoft uses its new Azure Spatial Anchors technology in adapting well-known computer games into augmented reality. The technology uses machine vision algorithms to enable the use of real-world objects as anchors for digital content. At the same time, future Minecraft Earth players will also contribute to making Microsoft’s Azure Spatial Anchors technology more potent by using their phone cameras to increase the technology’s data.

“I think the partnership will improve our overall product,” admits Neena Kamath, product lead for Azure Mixed Reality at Microsoft. “We discover so much… understanding how users interact with their world, and what the design points are. It’s a great partnership.” Now, the real-world data from these devices that everyone has in their pockets will feedback. “It’s a wonderful loop,” as reported by The Verge.

But as of the moment, Microsoft recognizes that the knowledge and skills required to develop AI technology are very limited to very few individuals. More specifically, people are not skilled enough for roles involving the use of Azure in aerospace, manufacturing, and elsewhere.

As a solution, Microsoft is investing in certification and training for a range of AI-related skills in partnership with the education provider, General Assembly. They are looking to train some 15,000 individuals across different universities by 2022. The training will focus on AI, machine learning, data science, cloud and data engineering, and more.

“Artificial intelligence is driving the greatest disruption to our global economy since industrialization, and Microsoft is an amazing partner as we develop solutions to empower companies and workers to meet that disruption head on,” said Jake Schwartz, CEO, and co-founder of GA. “At its core, GA has always been laser-focused on connecting what companies need to the skills that workers obtain, and we are excited to team up with Microsoft to tackle the AI skills gap.”

In a sense, the training will also provide as a talent scout platform for Microsoft to determine individuals suitable for their AI Talent Network that will be capable of long-term employment as well as contract work.

Developments on AI technology is still at the early stages and will only continue to grow bigger as more and more minds are involved and technology introduced to it. The World Economic Forum envisions up to 133 million new roles could be created by 2022. Gaming is only one of the industries that AI is taking over, but a world filled by AI is also part of the foreseeable future.

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Gaming

Behold! Minecraft Earth Will Take Over This Summer

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How will the app work in the real world, how today's society will perceive and use it and why it's making a difference in today's generation.
Minecraft Earth. Photo From: Minecraft YouTube

If you have a kid, there’s a possibility that you spent little over an hour scolding him for spending way too much time glued on his phone, tablet, or computer’s screen. There’s an even bigger possibility that it’s because he’s been playing Minecraft.

Minecraft is the younger generation’s version of Pokémon. As a kid myself, I spent hours and hours a day trying to catch little creatures and trying to win badges at gym battles. Today, kids are spending their days in a more creative and constructive way, in my opinion, by building structures forged from their imagination.

Personally, I have played Minecraft for several nights straight, trying to complete my dream fortified mansion-slash-city-slash-world. There’s no limit in what you can do in the game other than yourself. A few hours will fly by quickly as you see your imagination come to life, at least virtually. Think like an architect seeing his designs being built.

Microsoft Today revealed a teaser into how they’re reintroducing Minecraft to the world. From the idea that built the phenomenon of Pokémon Go comes Minecraft Earth.

However, it is quite easy to say, based on reports, that Microsoft is taking an ambitious leap from Pokémon Go.

Comparably, like Pokémon Go, Minecraft Earth is built on the foundation of augmented reality. You will get to experience the world of Minecraft through your mobile phone’s camera. Moreover, users will get to interact and establish relationships with other players.

But where Minecraft Earth stands out is that its a world where multiple players can create along the way. It’s not like Pokémon Go where Pokémon are left conveniently along sidewalks or parks for players to find. Microsoft takes it further by allowing users to define and decide how their own Minecraft Earth will look like in the end.

They can accomplish this by playing the regular Minecraft game whether individually or with friends connected to the same Wi-Fi, or through a server that lets you play with an even larger group of 50 people or more.

Minecraft Earth proposes to completely break the dogma that has lived with us in computing since the beginning: this idea of a single person that holds a single device to create a single experience,” Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s HoloLens and Kinect creator tells The Verge. “With Minecraft Earth, that’s no longer the case. The content is in the real world.”

Microsoft says that the mobile app will be like playing the original game since it’s highly anchored by the basics to easily resemble the game we got so used to. They wanted to preserve the spirit of the game that’s all about creating and collaborating.

Minecraft Earth will not be a player versus player kind of game. You cannot kill other players and claim their resources as that’s not how Microsoft intends the game to be. But you can technically steal from other players when they allowed you to enter their builds, but you won’t be doing it anonymously behind a computer but besides the person that you’re stealing from. A little mischief to spice things up.

Just like the original, you will be spending your time chopping down trees and collecting resources that you can use in Build Mode to create your fortress. But with a real-to-life version of the original, you can scale your builds into actual size reaching to 200ft x 200ft. If you spent hours building it on your phone, I wonder how long Minecraft Earth will take you.

Moreover, you can have your builds stored personally by leaving it at the desired spot. From there, you can decide to share it with other players for them to help or collaborate on your work.

However, don’t expect that every single tree or plot of land can be harvested. This is where the concept of Pokémon Go comes in, in order to collect resources, you will need to walk around the neighborhood or to the park to see ‘tapables’ that you can collect.

“We have covered the entire planet in Minecraft,” Tori Olafsson, Minecraft Earth game director explains “Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees. We’ve actually taken maps of the entire world and converted them to Minecraft.”

There are also adventures in Minecraft Earth that vary from easy to difficult. Easy where it can take you by surprise as you fall into a castle filled by skeletons attacking you or difficult where you are knowingly entering the challenge risking all of your resources.

Definitely, Minecraft Earth is bringing a lot of things in the table, with augmented reality along its side, it will take over the world by storm and start a whole new phenomenon alongside its 91 million active players across the planet.

Minecraft Earth will be available in iOS and Android via beta on summer.

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Current Events

Prince Harry Says, Children Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Play ‘Fortnite’

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Prince Harry, Fortnite

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and a member of the UK’s royal family, said that there is another activity which is more addictive than drugs and alcohol; and that’s the playing Fortnite.

The Duke has said that children shouldn’t be allowed to play Fortnite, during his visit to the West London branch of YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association). His comments become viral not just in London but globally, emphasizing the effects of social media and violence these video games have brought on children.

“Social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol,” quoted by Prince Harry who added that Fortnite is becoming a trend nowadays to children ages seven years old and above. And what is more problematic is the fact that parents don’t have the complete control on how to devise a plan that will constrict their kids from playing too much Fortnite.

The Duke even challenged the parents by asking “What is the benefit of having it in your household?” He said that parents, most importantly, should take an active role in encouraging their children to interact with the world outside the Internet. Playing outdoor games and personal interaction with other kids is the best part of growing up and completing the child’s juvenile memories.

But the Prince is seeing the decline of personal interaction since the invention of social media which usually created online games that lure children away from the real world.

Fortnite is an online video game developed by Epic Games and released in 2017 which is available in three distinct game mode versions. The games are very successful, and Fortnite Battle Royale becomes a resounding success, drawing in more than 125 million players in less than a year and earning millions of dollars per month.

Speaking about Fortnite, the game is created to the addict, which in the words of Prince Harry, “an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It’s so irresponsible.”

The Duke’s concern is no different from other countries. In the US, Fortnite addiction has been a big problem as well, which links to the increasing number of teens dropping out of school and a considerable decline in interpersonal communication among children. This is the most dangerous case today which mirrors how these online games affect not just the academic performance of kids nowadays but also their social interaction.

Although Prince Harry does not mention whether the game will be banned or a time restriction is going to be implemented, the United Kingdom is still lucky. Unlike China, PUBG Mobile, another online game which dominates almost every country, has been banned for kids under 13 years old, while India, barred PUBG in some of its primary schools. The game has a similar effect with Fortnite which most studies claimed that both harm their studies.

In January 2019, PUBG Mobile on Android and iOS is one of the most popular games in India which landed its fate on a pot of bother with the Jammu and Kashmir Students Association. The student body has asked the Jammu and Kashmir Governor to ban the game immediately due to its adverse effects on children’s examination results. The game is deemed to be very addictive the issue heightened when these youngsters spent 24 hours on the mobile phones playing the game and doing nothing.

Both games have been a cultural phenomenon which draws a lot of attention since the day it was launched. Although Fortnite came first, PUBG also made its way to stardom, creating millions of players in different countries. Prince Harry is a powerful force in awakening the negative impacts of these games to children, and although gaming companies have an explaining to do for not set restrictions on its mobile games, the responsibility does not only rely upon them.

Parents, among others, are in charge of giving disciplines to their kids. Playing mobile game has its advantages as well. One benefit people see that this game may provide its ability to offer an excellent recreational avenue for kids but with limitation and proper restriction. Also, good parenting does not only stop in giving them their basic needs, but social development in its more profound sense is needed for the holistic development of a child. The Government, school, and teachers will only give guidance, but the responsibility lies in the hands of effective parentage.

Photo: Arlington National Cemetery

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