Each year, the charity I manage (Gamers Outreach Foundation) hosts a competitive video game tournament / BYOC LAN* party called Gamers for Giving. It’s a weekend long marathon that gives video game enthusiasts the chance to come together and share their passion for gaming while raising money and awareness for a great cause. Sponsors from the industry help cover the costs of the event, while attendee entry fees are used to fund the initiatives of Gamers Outreach. Everything is put together by a crew of volunteers.

The event is taking place within the Eastern Michigan University Student Center. It begins on Saturday, February 16th and will go non-stop until Sunday evening, February 17th. Headline activities at this year’s event include a 150 person BYOC LAN, a Call of Duty Black Ops 2 tournament, a Halo 4 tournament, a StarCraft 2 tournament, and a League of Legends tournament. We’ll be giving out over $6,000 in cash prizes to the winners of our headline tournaments!

Our goal is to raise $15,000 to support Gamers Outreach initiatives in 2013. We plan on using a portion of the funds to support Eastern Michigan’s ROTC program in connection with our organization’s military initiatives. We’ll also be creating a general funding pool for the construction of new GO Karts!

If you’re in the area, swing out to the event and support the cause! If you’re unable to attend, we’ll also be streaming the event through where you’ll be able to donate during the weekend!

Information and registration can be found at Hope to see you there!

*For those not familiar with the term “LAN Party,” LAN is an acronym for “Local Area Network.” As the organizers of the event, we set up tables, lay down electrical cords, and provide networking infrastructure that allows gamers to connect with one another to play video games. 



I’m not that into sharing personal political views over the internet, BUT I do think participating in the voting process is really important. There’s a really cool website I’d recommend checking out called It’s basically a survey that matches you with the political candidates who are the strongest proponents of issues you care about. It’s definitely worth the time, even if you think you’re set in your ways!



If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the video series produced by Kevin Rose called FOUNDATION. In each video, Rose takes the time to sit down with influential people from the tech industry to discuss how they got started in their respective businesses. The passion these people have for their work is contagious. Their stories are incredible, and surprisingly diverse. I’m only up to episode 8, but I just finished off this discussion with Chris Sacca from episode 7. Chris runs a venture capital group, and was one of the early investors in Twitter. He got his start after accumulating nearly 2 million dollars of debt by the time he was 25. Aside from being an incredible comeback story, this talk has some great nuggets of insight that are applicable to everyone’s walk in life.



This is actually a slightly dated piece of content, but something I just happened to stumble across today. Astro Studios has a fantastic publication highlighting their industrial design process from 2011 available for download on their website. I love when companies produce these types of mini-portfolios with commentary. It’s one of the best ways to gain insight into the way products and ideas come to life. Equally impressive is the way companies are able to manage a complex creative process when multiple contributors are involved. Whatever your field of study, the industrial design process is, in the words of Astro, an expression of pure creative horsepower. If you’re in need of some inspiration, or just looking to kill some time, give the Astro Physics manual a read. Well worth it.


E3 2012

A few weeks back I was out in Los Angeles for the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). For those not familiar, E3 is an annual trade show for folks working within the video game industry. Each year, people that make video games, distribute video games, and help keep the wheels turning come together to conduct business related to the gaming industry. It’s at E3 that companies will reveal new games, and try to build up hype for products heading out for launch.

I was out at E3 this year alongside the Astro Gaming crew, who unveiled their newest wireless product, the Astro A50 headset (pictured later below). It was a fantastic week overall. Here are some of my personal highlights in no particular order…

I had the chance to sit down for some all you can eat Korean BBQ for the first time, and it was glorious. But before I continue talking about how great Korean BBQ was, I’d like to address the thought that’s probably going through the minds of most of my gamer friends reading this post. “Really, Zach? You’re starting out your E3 recap with a picture of dinner?” Yes. Yes I am. Don’t hate, I love food! Now back to what I was saying…

To summarize, Korean BBQ is kind of like a mini hibachi dinner. There’s a small community grill located in the center of the table. Your group orders a particular kind of meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc) and once you’re finished eating what you ordered, you order something else. You then continue this process until everyone’s had their fill. Definitely a recommended option if you’re looking for a solid dinner spot to accompany a great night out with friends.

To top off dinner, for dessert, we hopped over to this cupcake shop called Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. I found out about this place a few months ago when I came across an article (h/t Kdoohan) about a crazy cupcake dispenser that Sprinkles had installed in their storefront. I have to give credit to the people running this place for their clever business savvy and sense of humor. Attached to the store is a cupcake dispenser fashioned in the shape of an ATM machine. Yes, you read that right. This place has a cupcake ATM machine that dispenses boxes of delectable happiness.

Aside from the fact that yes, I am easily amused, the cupcakes were delicious, and the magical cupcake dispenser has created a cult following amongst the locals. We waited in line a pretty decent amount of time before we got our cupcakes, but they were worth it. Five out of five stars.

Ok – E3. I felt like this year’s E3 was relatively mellow compared to year’s past. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves here, we can all assume what’s cooking behind closed doors right now *cough* new consoles. Things I’m excited about that were on display:

+ The new Devil May Cry looks sweet. I didn’t get the chance to do much demo playing due to work / meetings, but I think the new artistic direction is a really interesting interpretation of Dante. Can’t wait for its release!

+ Halo 4. I am reserving all of my opinions until the game comes out and I’ve had a month or two to play it. From the perspective of someone who enjoys the competitive aspect of Halo, I think it shows promise, but my own initial reactions and the reactions of pros doesn’t really mean much yet for competitive gaming. What will make an impact is how the game is received by the community after it’s been played for a little while. The 343 team is an incredibly intelligent, capable group of people that can definitely take the Halo franchise to new heights. Whether or not that direction is something that the competitive community will particularly embrace has yet to be determined. If you’re interested in some really fantastic insight, Bravo has been posting YouTube videos on a daily basis. He’s got a ton of interviews with pro players up on his channel at

+ Astro A50s. Oh sweet wireless beauty. Just look at these bad boys…

+ Ubisoft came out guns-a-blazing at E3. Assassins Creed looks phenomenal, and they’re also releasing a game called Shootmania that is very similar to the old Quake titles. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s embraced by the PC competitive community upon its release.

+ GREE had a HUGE footprint at E3, which was really fantastic to see. The mobile gaming scene hasn’t really been very strongly represented at trade shows despite its economic size in the market. GREE is a company from Japan that, for the sake of analogy and familiarity, one could compare to the Steam platform. Only instead of PC games, the company provides cross compatibility for mobile devices. They’ve only just recently begun their push into the US market, so there’s still a bit of unfamiliarity with their brand across the scene, but I expect these guys to be doing some big things as mobile gaming becomes more prevalent. Their presence at these events will really help pioneer the field for mobile developers.

I ended up staying a few days past E3 for a little west coast R&R. On Friday I crashed at this place called Hotel Erwin on Venice Beach. I’ve stayed there a couple times for some of the early Red Bull LANs, and it’s a gem of a spot. The hotel itself is great, but even more spectacular is the rooftop bar, “High,” which offers a fantastic view of the sunset and the Venice area. It’s a really great spot to close out a night with friends, or chill with that special someone ;).

On Saturday I drove out to Anaheim to swing by the MLG event taking place at the convention center. Anaheim was a different vibe than the MLGs I’ve attended in the past. There was no shooter presence, which made me feel a bit like the new kid at a high school. This event was heavy on League of Legends and Starcraft 2, both great games, but they carry a different energy than Halo. Hoping to see some more representation at future events, but the event was well produced and had a great turn out.

Sunday ended up being a bit of a deviation from my original plan to hang at MLG. I met up with a friend of mine named Mark McNabb, who’s going to get a blog post dedicated to his exploits one of these days. Mark was one of the original members of the Oakley team, and eventually went on to head up a lot of the early marketing efforts of the GUNNAR Eyewear brand. Mark gave me the full SoCal tour on Sunday. We went surfing, bummed out in Laguna / Huntington beach, and took in every ounce of California living we could with the time we had. It was a fantastic way to end the week, and I can’t give the guy enough props for his hospitality. Huge thanks again Mark if you’re reading this!

In other news, I’ve been getting a number of messages from people asking about the next Gamers for Giving event. Stay patient! I know I have a horrible habit of saying we’ll be announcing something soon, and that “soon” ends up being “later,” but it’ll be worth it. We’ve got some really exciting partners hopping on board with our next event, and I’d like to announce some of that at the get-go so people can have an idea of what to expect. Gamers Outreach will be announcing the dates for Gamers for Giving before the end of July, if not sooner. We’ll also be delivering two GO Karts to some hospitals on the west coast before the end of the year. More details on that will be posted over on the Gamers Outreach website alongside the announcement of Gamers for Giving. We recently had the chance to get some of the regular Gamers Outreach volunteers together for a little BBQ at my house. Shaun Fyall, our volunteer coordinator, and his girlfriend Maddie cooked a crazy amount of awesome food for everybody. They even made a cake in the shape of the Gamers Outreach logo! Serious noms. We’ve got pics from the BBQ posted up in the Gamers Outreach fan page on Facebook if you’d like to check them out. Props to all the volunteers for their dedication and work throughout the years. You guys are awesome!

Lastly, on a note totally unrelated to gaming, I decided to shave the good ol’ chinstrap a couple days ago. This usually only happens once every three years, and then I end up deciding to grow it back. But I’m thinking I might be rocking the clean shave / shadow look indefinitely. It is truly the dawn of a new age. Still feeling a little naked inside. RIP chinstrap!