‘Everybody is a gamer’: Inside the first-ever Xbox video game competition at the Special Olympics
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‘Everybody is a gamer’: Inside the first-ever Xbox video game competition at the Special Olympics

Tim Dempsey and Nicholas Rasmussen didn’t even know one another till a few months in the past. Now they’re good buddies and newly-crowned champions of the first-ever gaming event at the Special Olympics USA Games that demonstrated how video video games can carry individuals collectively and empower athletic achievement similar to conventional sports activities.

Microsoft’s Xbox division partnered with the Special Olympics to host the inaugural video game event at the USA Video games, an annual occasion being held in Seattle this week.

Eight “unified” groups, made up of an athlete with an mental incapacity and one with out, got here collectively from throughout the nation at the College of Washington campus on Monday and performed Forza Motorsport 7, a common racing game printed by Microsoft Studios.

‘Everybody is a gamer’: Inside the first-ever Xbox video game competition at the Special Olympics

The thought for the occasion began at an inner Microsoft hackathon final 12 months. With the USA Video games coming to the firm’s yard, staff labored collectively to seek out a method for gaming to enter the competition alongside conventional sports activities like soccer, softball, and swimming.

Kay Jo Wright, director of Microsoft’s Gaming For Everyone unit, mentioned the occasion was a reflection of her group’s mission to make Xbox a extra inclusive and welcoming gaming expertise.

“We’re all about making Xbox a place the place everybody has enjoyable,” she advised GeekWire. “We acknowledge enjoyable means various things to completely different individuals.”

‘Everybody is a gamer’: Inside the first-ever Xbox video game competition at the Special Olympics

The inaugural occasion was structured very like what you’d see at an esports competition, of which there are increasingly as aggressive video gaming continues to develop in reputation. Microsoft labored with Forza developer Flip 10 Studios to construction the qualifying rounds and event format, which mixed driving occasions from every teammate to provide an general rating.

Rasmussen, a 22-year-old from Puyallup, Wash., and Dempsey, a 29-year-old from Federal Manner, Wash., are each avid avid gamers and that actually confirmed on Monday as “Crew Shake and Bake” flashed spectacular Forza driving expertise en path to the championship. They’ve been working towards collectively on-line on Xbox Stay for the previous few months in preparation for the massive competition.

“It’s the similar as sports activities,” mentioned Dempsey, whose favourite game of all time is Want for Pace: Underground. “It’s teamwork.”

Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver kicked off the competition on Monday and requested the members to “present us the future.”

“We consider everyone is a gamer; everyone is a competitor; everyone is an athlete,” he mentioned. “Our job is to make it potential for everyone to affix. This is a new approach to make that occur.”

Microsoft is the presenting sponsor of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Video games, which spotlights the expertise of athletes with mental disabilities and promotes inclusion past the taking part in subject. Satya Nadella, the firm’s CEO, and Brad Smith, president, spoke at the Opening Ceremony on Sunday.

“However Special Olympics is about rather more than simply sports activities and competition,” Nadella mentioned. “It’s a mannequin for constructing a extra inclusive world. A world the place everybody is celebrated for his or her distinctive skills. A world the place everybody is invited to take part.”

Different Seattle-area firms like Amazon, T-Cell, and Starbucks are also participating at the games.

“In some ways, this could and must be a defining second for the Seattle group,” Smith mentioned in an interview with GeekWire final week. “It’s a nice alternative to indicate the nation that we aspire to be a actual metropolis and area of inclusion.”

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