Are eSports The Future?

Are eSports the Future?Whether or not you agree that eSports should be considered a “sport” or not, it is clear they are here to stay. 20 million people watched the recent Call Of Duty Championships, a tournament in which $2m in prizes were given away to competing teams! So what is this craze that’s captured the attention of a worldwide audience and how can we, as marketers, get in the game?


Date/Time: Tuesday, October 18 – 6:30 PM      


  • Kyle Stallock, Lead eSports Strategist at Edelman
  • Cat Valdes, AKA “Catrific,” Vlogger & co-founder of Summoners Con.
  • Adam Welker, Director of Interactive Entertainment & eSports, APA Agency
  • More TBA!


  • Clint Schaff, VP Strategy and Development, Los Angeles Times (Advertising)


Location:  General Assembly, 1520 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA (This is our new monthly meeting place moving forward and until further notice)

Give General Assembly a shout-out on the social channels. They are great!
Instagramgeneralassembly    Twitter@ga_la

Parking: Free for first 90 minutes, $1 per half hour after just across the street in the mall parking garage. READ the signs to make sure you’re entering the correct lot for the free 90 minutes and $1 rate.

Apr 24 Speaker Spotlight: Zao Yang, COO of Betterworks

Still on the fence about joining us next Tuesday evening, April 24th at the ING DIRECT Cafe LA for our Social Games Explosion panel? RSVP NOW:

Do you or someone you know play Farmville? Well, let me introduce our third guest speaker for the evening.


Sizhao “Zao” Yang is currently the COO/co-founder at BetterWorks, Inc., a perks platform for small and medium sized businesses.

Zao Yang, COO of Betterworks

Previously, he co-created Farmville, and was the CEO/co-founder of MyMiniLife, Inc. (sold to Zynga Game Networks, Inc.).  After the acquisition, MyMiniLife became the common technology platform at Zynga and powers 150M monthly users including games like Cityville, Farmville, and Frontierville. He also designed the Farmville iPhone application (top iPhone app), and worked on corporate development deals including Microsoft, Yahoo, Zynga Japan, and Zynga corporate strategy. He is also an active investor with stakes in companies like Hipmunk, GroupMe, Facebook, Zynga (acquisition stock), and SV Angels. He received a B.S. in computer science at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Betterworks is a start-up in Santa Monica that focuses on rewarding your workforce. Have your ears perked up? This is a business platform where employees can earn rewards and members (participating partners) has the group-buying power (like Groupon) to get those perks to their employees. It can be tough to get those big corporate discounts for employees if you don’t have the volume of a Fortune 500. What if you only have 4 employees but still want to reward your small but mighty staff?

While I’d love to be a small business that takes part in Betterworks, we have to go back to the subject at hand. I still have some questions about social gaming and Farmville for Zao next week:

1. Who/what/how did Farmville get started?

2. While the cash to coins market isn’t new (see World of Warcraft), did Farmville’s popularity make it the biggest social game for Facebook commerce (cash for coins)?

3. What advice do you have to budding social gaming agencies who are looking to be the next Farmville or Draw Something?

4. Are you still playing Farmville? *g*

5. You’ve come from playing and designing games on Facebook to designing a platform for small and large businesses to leverage their ‘buying’ power and reward employees. Where are you in the Betterworks timeline and where do you want to take Betterworks?

Don’t want Zao to answer my questions? No problem. Head over to ING DIRECT Cafe LA next Tuesday evening and put your hand up! We want you to ask questions and learn from all of our panelists! See you there!


Apr 24 Speaker Spotlight: Trina Finton, Founder of Gaming Angels

If you ask Trina Finton, she was born a geek girl at heart. Starting with the Atari 2600, Trina was quickly hooked. By eight, she was programming games in Basic and starting her collection of comic books. Trina has appeared on panels and been interviewed about her strong opinions about women in gaming and technology fields. If she’s not working on, she might be cheering on the Vikings, playing videogames or reading Twitter.

Trina Finton, Founder of Gaming Angels

Most recently, Trina has been voted Fast Company’s Top Women in Games in 2010, featured on NBC LA twice as an expert in Women in Gaming, and is launching the first Women’s Media Network focused on geeky subjects. Gaming Angels also gave away their first scholarship for a young girl to attend National Computer Camp.



Find Trina here:
Personal Blog:
Corporate site:
Gaming Site:
Twitter: @GamingAngel

Chris here. I’m pretty excited to meet Trina in person. I’m so happy to see women founding communities and businesses in a traditionally male industry. Gaming Angels isn’t just about gaming – they’re also a community of geek girls, gadget fangirls, and all things tech fangirls. Seeing that Valeska (and Zao – spotlight next!) work businesses with the games and connect them with consumers, I’m interested in seeing what Trina has to say about gaming agencies like Rivvid and Betterworks from a gamer perspective. Here are my questions for Trina:

1. What has the Gaming Angels community seen as a trend in social gaming?

2. Is there a popular platform that works best for casual gamers? FB app? iPad? Mobile format?

3. What about “traditional” game companies like EA or THQ or Activision? Have you seen any interest from them to create more social games or bridging games with commerce (or e-commerce)?

4. What’s the last drawing you created on Draw Something?

If you’re interested in chatting with Trina about her community of gamers, video games, social games or anything else, come by to the ING DIRECT Cafe LA on Tuesday evening, April 24! RSVP to our Social Games Explosion event!



Apr. 24 Speaker Spotlight: Valeska Jacques, Co-Founder of Rivvid

Do your friends groan when you win trivia games against them? Are you one of those people who just knows everything about something? Do you know about Rivvid? Do you know about online trivia games where you can win prizes like a Target gift card, BCBG gift card, or an American Airlines gift certificate? Check out who Valeska Jacques is and what her company is all about at our April 24 Social Gaming Explosion panel!  RSVP now!

Valeska Jacques, Co-Founder of Rivvid

Meet Valeska Jacques. Valeska is Co-Founder of Rivvid, a unique video trivia platform that allows anyplayer to convert any YouTube video into trivia. Rivvid has been featured on Channel 10 news,ESPN Deportes, and local magazines. So far, brands such as Southland Mall, Teeccino, Zoo Miami, XMA (Extreme Martial Arts), and many local small businesses have started using video trivia to create “share-worthy” content and leverage it for cause related marketing. Valeska’s literacy and Don’t Text and Drive video trivia campaigns have captured sponsors such as Purina Mills, State Farm, and many local businesses to advocate the cause.

In 2007, she launched the Miami Beach Technology Council in Miami Beach and served 4 years on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners in Miami. Currently she serves on the board for the President’s Assembly national organization of the National Association of Women Business Owners and sits on the Communications Committee for NAWBO’s Los Angeles chapter. In 2011, she moved her family to Los Angeles, California to spearhead Rivvid’s product launch.

Chris here. Learn more about what Rivvid is doing with companies in the social gaming universe at our April 24 panel. I’m interested in what the gaming demographics are for her clients as well as effectiveness of trivia games online. I’ve always wanted to battle it out in a sci-fi trivia game. Maybe I can find one that’ll suit my needs. Some questions I’d like to know:

1. What sort of companies has Rivvid been working with lately?

2. How does Rivvid (or their clients) integrate this kind of gaming campaign into the clients’ existing marketing plan? OR do they? (Is this a one-off?)

3. What have you seen work that you can share as a best practice?

4. I won 580 points on the Line Dancing video trivia. What can I redeem those points for?

Get your questions ready for Valeska and the panel when we head to ING DIRECT Cafe LA on Tuesday evening, April 24!


RSVP Now for our April 24 Event: Social Gaming Explosion!

Betterworks - Rivvid - Gaming Angels

Ever wonder what the heck happens with the user data that gets collected when you play Farmville or Draw Something? How about when you’re playing a game on a movie website to gather enough coins to open up special sneak previews? As a business, what are your end goals when you decide to use a “game” to entice consumers?

Businesses are working hard to acquire and retain an audience by gamification these days. What is gamification? What are companies doing in the social gaming realm to set up that customer relationship? What are some examples that are working and not working? On the flip side, we want to hear what social gamers think about these “freemium” games and what they expect from them. If you’re managing a brand and have thought about using a social game as a promotion or a way to introduce an audience to your product, this panel is for you! If you’re a professional wondering how this will affect the way we see products within a gaming environment, this is for you! If you’re just curious to learn more about social gaming (Draw Something, anyone?), join us in April!

Join us for our Social Gaming panel on Tuesday, April 24 at ING DIRECT LA Cafe in West LA!

RSVP HERE: or click on the Eventbrite widget on the upper right-hand column of our site!

Our guest speakers:

Networking & Registration: 6:00 – 7:45Pm
Program: 7:45PM – 9:00PM

Location: ING DIRECT Cafe LA
11175 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 445-0429 ‎

NOTE – We’ll provide the pizzas, drinks and parking!