Friday, 2 September 2016

E-Sports History #1 - The first videogames

While I am working on my thesis researching e-sport culture I became intrigued with its history. So why not pen it down as a series?! Will try to post something every week.  Sources can be found at the end of the post and will update the particular posts with new info if found.

Alan Turing is generally seen as the inventor of the early computer, but also the programmer of the first digital game. In 1951 he developed the first chess game on paper after Claude E. Shannon published Programming a Computer for Playing Chess. While there was no computer to run the actual program, in fact an algorithm to be precise, Turing had to calculate every move the machine would have made by hand. Taking him around thirty to fifteen minutes calculating a single move. Not very efficient, but in essence the first electronic game was developed. He later tried to code the algorithm onto Manchester Ferranti Mark 1 computer, but never was able to finish.  It would take another 7 years before the world saw the first multiplayer game with a graphical display in the form of Tennis for Two. It had the capability to accommodate two players competing making it the first multiplayer game. Not to be confused with PONG as Tennis for Two used a side by side view instead of the top-down perspective we all know. William Higinbotham in 1958 made the game to entertain visitors of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility, during annual open house days. Unfortunately the game was lost when it was disassembled in 1959 as the game was never intended to be a product, but only a novelty to impress open house guests. Various attempts are made to recreate the game on the original hardware used at that time, but we will never know the real Tennis for Two.

The most significant beginning of e-sports and gaming in general came with the invention of Spacewar on the Programmed Data Processor-1 (PDP-1) by Stephen R. Russel, Alan Kotok, Peter Samson and Dan Edwards whom were inspired by the Doc Smith’s sci-fi Lensman novels and completed the game in the spring of 1962. A two-player game on one of the early computers that used a real screen and keyboard with the objective to shoot the other player's spaceship. According to Russel Spacewar is a simulation of a reasonably complicated physical system that was now capable to show what was going on. Besides showing a sophisticated piece of software it also afforded the users to play the game against each other. Electronic competitive gaming among students was born and described in the first edition of MIT university newspaper Decuscope:

If, when walking down the halls of MIT, you should happen to hear strange cries of “No! No! Turn! Fire! ARRRGGGHHH!,” do not be alarmed. Another western is not being filmed -- MIT students and others are merely participating in a new sport, SPACEWAR!

A beautiful first encounter that uses the word sport to identify intense electronic competitive gaming going on a small scale. In an era where networks were virtually non-existent students shared the symbolic and binary tapes with each other or even wrote down the code on a piece of paper in order to play the game at their university. In the mid-sixties there was a copy of Spacewar on almost every research computer in America and hundreds of personal variations on the source code. One of these variations made it possible to play the game in Free-For-All with five players at the same time or Deathmatch mode. The first documented e-sports competition in October 1972 was at Stanford University.
The first “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” will be held here. Wednesday 19 October, 2000 hours. First prize will be a year’s subscription to “Rolling Stone”. The gala event will be reported by Stone Sports reporter Stewart Brand & photographed by Annie Liebowitz. Free Beer! - Announcement flyer distributed on campus.

The first e-sports event that lives it days through the words of Stewart Brand and the eyes of Annie Liebowitz. Some vivid observations were penned down by Brand in his article Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums that exceeds just an account of a single unfolding event. The Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics sparked the era of gaming with numerous aspects still being around at this very moment. It was the first time a nickname was linked to a player’s name. While it was not uncommon for “hackers” of that day to use a nickname, easier for coding and leaving a signature, it is the first time a player was described by his nickname in a competition. REM, short for Robert E. Maas, could be very well the first gamertag ever be used in a competitive gaming event. Unintentional, as Maas was a programmer first who just participated in the competition, the start of a widespread phenomenon in gaming culture that was later more incorporated when online multiplayer games became mainstream. Other aspects of the gaming culture can already be found reading the observations at the first Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics.

Spacewar affected the way people thought about programming. The simplicity and efficiency of the code challenged other programmers to be creative in the applications written for computers.

To be continued.


"Alan Turing - The First Ever Chess Program - Which Had No Computer to Run On!" YouTube.  19 Nov. 2012.

Brand, Stewart. "Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums." Rolling Stone, 7 Dec. 1972.

Edwards, D.J., and J.M. Graetz. "PDP-1 Plays at Spacewar." Decuscope,

Shannon, Claude E. "Programming a Computer for Playing Chess." Computer Chess Compendium (1950)

When Games Went Click: The Story of Tennis for Two (2013) -

"A History of Esports." Team Liquid - StarCraft 2 Pro Gaming News

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Things I Made (7): Kytopia Sessions - The T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society

The first song of the T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society we recorded at Kytopia with Staplab and 3voor12/Utrecht is out! A live sneak peek of his album that will be released on October 1st at Poppodium EKKO.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Things I Made (6): Pitto - Let's Do It Again

Did the edit for Pitto's latest clip Let's Do It Again that premiered on Clash Magazine. We made the clip with loads of people so hope you enjoy it.

And some backstage pics:

Friday, 15 July 2016

Catching Pokemon in London

So I am in London for three days joining my parents and brother for a quick citytrip and finally got time to play around with Pokemon GO. Already installed it a week ago, but work had me occupied to fully experience the game. Well to be honest I did not really used it as a game, but more as my guide through London. Already visited London loads of times and seen all the usual tourist hotspots like the Tower, Buckingham Palace, the MI5/6 building, biggest IMAX in Europe and so on. I was interested where the app would take me and what I would discover. To be honest: loads of things. Normally you see the well known buildings and plaques that you have to visit, but this time I saw things as the house of The White Rabbit (codename for F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas whom was a agent during WWII), a lot of architecture, pubs with backstories and some sculptures.

"The White Rabbit"
In the four hours I wandered I catched around one hundred Pokemon. Most of them in parks or near known buildings, but I was never in the middle of the streets like most media outlets warn about. Maybe it is on purpose, but the best way to catch the Pokemons was in the parks themselves so I image that kids would want to go to the park to play the game. Get as many Pidgeons as you can get! While drinking some high tea, you have to do that in London and the best place to do that is at the Tea House Theatre and it is a fine stop between catching the little bastards, my eye caught an article in the Daily Mail about the dangers of fast food restaurants using the app to lure kids. Maybe something to keep an eye on.

Looking for some Pokemon at Buckingham Palace
The only thing I missed in the game was a direction function. I get the idea of not knowing where you end up as an adventure, but when you are visiting a city it would be handy to also use the app as a guide to my hotel. Switching between Google Maps and Pokemon Go was a pain in the ass and the game crashed sometimes while doing this. Probably closing the app for the rest of my stay and now grabbing a beer at The Pride Of Paddington Pub.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Things I Made (5): Kytopia Session - Pieter de Graaf

One of the first Kytopia Session, the place I have my office, we ever filmed in collaboration with 3voor12/Utrecht. Pieter improvised most of the session you can watch below and recently got enough funding on his crowdfunding campaing to finish his album. More sessions we filmed can be watched on our seperate YouTube channel of Kytopia Sessions

I had the pleasure to listen to a couple of tracks for his upcoming album and it is going to be awesome! Check out his website and Facebook for more updates.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Things I Made (4): Chris Ayer lyric video

Animated a simple lyric video for Chris Ayer's single a few months ago. Nothing much, but effective.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Things I Made (3): Kytopia Session - TIAN

We record sessions at our office in collaboration with 3voor12Utrecht. This is one of our latest published sessions and we are working on many others. Still have to finish at least 12 tracks, but we all do this for fun so work comes first. Check all the sessions we make on our YouTube Channel and make sure to follow TIAN on Facebook for their latest updates.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

We are live from Dreamhack

And we are live after a few days of setting up the livestreams at Dreamhack Summer 2016. I was mostly busy with the Smite and Paladins stream, but make sure to check all of them during the event.

HiRezTV - Twitch

Monday, 13 June 2016

Things I Made (2): Teaser Studio Stekker 2015

Still planning on making a full documentary about Studio Stekker as I have three years of footage on my hard drive. This is a small teaser of the 2015 edition. A project that invites artists from all over the globe to collaborate on new music in Utrecht. The first quote is in Dutch, but the other ones are in English.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

On our way to Dreamhack Summer 2016

On our way to Dreamhack Summer 2016 for some streaming thingies with Rauben, Marc and Hexiit. Early morning without coffee to finish some other things at the office and straight to the airport where we learned that the flight from Copenhagen to Stockholm was definitely canceled due to some strikes. Typing this in the train to our final destination as we had to take the train from Copenhagen. 

My first time at Dreamhack was in the winter of 2010 I think where I edited some videos while two others were streaming Counter-Strike 1.6. Then I was promoted to be the guy that fell asleep and flipped the bird to around 1000 viewers live. Well that was back then. I became a professional in not sleeping... 

I am working on a book about e-sports and thought it would be interesting to include a bit of this as I realised at Dreamhack Winter 2012 that e-sports was here to stay. Still a work in progress.

At this point I work as a freelance director, producer and editor for a variety of different projects that are not exclusively game related, but my interest of the whole e-sports culture still intrigues me. The moment I realised e-sports had became a full on business was at a Twitch afterparty at Dreamhack Winter 2012 when I ordered a beer on their tap, but we were already too late to the party. No more free booze for us kids we thought… Withdrawing some cash at the nearest  ATM and back to the party. Ordering and wanting to pay for our whiskeys Justin “TheGunrun” Ignacio shouted in his joyful manner: These guys are drinking on us the whole night! That was the year we did a production of League of Legends with a team of four people, had at some point almost 250.000 concurrent viewers, were DDoSed because one of us had their xfire open (I will not name and shame, but we have a shamepointsystem in place for crewmembers from then on and I probably take second place) and had a dedicated area for people that wanted to watch the League of Legends tournament. To clarify this was before Riot started their own LCS and if you do not know what I am talking about you will get it when you read the rest. I am not the gossip kind of person, but at some point I will throw in the occasional anecdote from my own experience.  

Will fly back on the 22nd of June and have no idea if there is time to write anything the coming week.

Dreamhack Winter 2010
Dreamhack Winter 2010

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Tools to scrape Instagram without any coding

Well I did the one list for Twitter a couple of days ago so this is a short list of tools you can use to extract data or pictures from Instagram. This one is a bit tricky. As of June 1 the API changed and some of the features may not work anymore. I quickly tried some of the tools I have laying around so I will probably add some more in the future.

odrive - Mac/Win/Lin - LINK
This used to be my go to tool when I needed photos with a certain hashtag, but now it is only possible to download the instgram pictures of your own and the once you liked. Still a nifty application as it can hook up loads of platforms to extract some data of it and can function as some kind of Dropbox.

4K Stogram - Mac/Win/Lin - LINK
Still works downloading Instagram photos with a certain hashtag or location (the last one did not work when I tried), but most importantly you do not have to log in to your own instagram account. Downloads all photos and videos to your pictures folder. There should be a handy way to also download the metadata, but have not dived too deep into this software.

Hotfolder Prints - Win - LINK
Hotfolders Prints comes with an Instagram Hashtag Monitor that takes some time (according to your settings) to download the photos with a certain hashtag. Most importantly the program also downloads the metadata of every picture into separate xml files. If you are handy with excel or other programs you can automatically import the data as a spreadsheet. The software is usable for a 15 day trial and is a bit pricy at 175 dollar.

Still have some other tools, but need to test them with the changed API, but the tools described can give you a start on scraping Instagram data/photos. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Things I made (1): This is not a showreel

Was asked to make some sort of showreel for a work thingy, but at this point I don't really feel the need for a showreel. So I compiled clips from a selection of projects I worked on the past 5 years into a minute video.

Music by Colin Benders. Check him out on

Friday, 3 June 2016

My thoughts (1): Innovation

Lately I have been thinking about the use of the word innovation. Everyone is throwing it around like it is something that makes their product or thoughts more worth than it should be. Most of the time “innovation” only means “we made it cost effective to market it to average consumers” when people talk about technology. When reading a paper it often means we slapped around some other ideas, ignoring counter ideas, and formed our own opinion that is a breakthrough in science. I am not talking about quality research here before you start crying on your PhD. True innovation almost never reaches the general public or gets picked up decades after its invention when the cost are reduced or there is a use for the product. Most of the time we do not even think about an invention as innovating. Simply because it not reaches the popular discourse. Do you remember that special spoon to scrape out the last custard from a glass bottle. I was mind blown when my mother used it for the first time. True innovation in my opinion.

To be honest it has become the most insignificant word of the decade, just like the word authentic, that is often misused. Businesses, academics and researches use it to highlight a positive change, but what they only do is glorifying their own work. What change? What innovation? More sales? More papers that are published? Does it help you to gain something for yourself or does it help society? "Innovation" has become a marketing term, but should be used for real and new ideas.

"My thoughts" posts are just a rambling of words and often written in a short period of time without any research. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Tools to scrape Twitter without any coding

On request I relist some tools that can help anyone to extract data from Twitter without any knowledge of coding. Did I miss a tool? Let me know in the comments and I will add them.

TAGS6.0 - Any OS - LINK
One of my favorite tools to scrape tweets from an account or multiple keyword search. It is a Google Sheets add-on that can update hourly so you don’t have your computer running during the sessions. I have one sheet already scraping for over a year for one keyword related to one of the companies I sometimes work.

My Twitter Scraper - Windows - LINK
A free and open source Twitter Scraper built by Software Engineering student Jason Dixon with the capability to scrape Twitter realtime. It returns username, tweet, time and location in a CSV file. Make sure you have Java 1.8 installed and get your Twitter API OAuth tokens at by creating a new Twitter application.

NodeXL - Windows - LINK
While a lot of people seem to have trouble with NodeXL to scrape tweets I had some success with it some years ago. NodeXL is an extension for Excel 2007 or higher (I recommend to just use Excel 2007). We probably need to wait for a fix, but sure one to keep in the loop.  

Nayoun & Gephi - Windows - LINK
Not easy to install, but you can use Nayoun & Gephi (as I describe in my other post) to live visualize different aspects of Twitter. You can export the data to a csv file in Gephi.

Not for huge volumes of tweets, but you can use some recipes to send certain tweets (like your own or hashtags) to a Google Sheets. Not that almost all recipes are limited on the amount of tweets they can extract at a time.