11:34pm PT by Carolyn Giardina
In-Theater Gaming League Launches in Los Angeles
Super League Gaming, a new in-theater video game league, debuted Monday in Los Angeles, fittingly, on the eve of the E3 gaming confab.
The league's summer promotional tour will involve roughly 80 theaters in 23 North American cities, including those from Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark, as well as luxury chain iPic and Cineplex in Canada.
At Monday's launch, held at the recently opened Cinemark Playa Vista and XD, the game was Minecraft, and a group of enthusiastic kids — armed with their laptops and accompanied by their parents — poured into the theater. Once they connected to the theater's Wi-Fi, they were ready to play. On the screen, the league offered a third-person "world" view of the game that showed all players while gamers played first-person on their laptops.
Super League's technology uses Minecraft’s open-source API to merge all players onto a single screen. Its president and COO Brett Morris added that the league is talking with developers about offering additional games that would reach other demographics. In some cases, there may be profit-sharing involved for the game developer.
The tour will run through Aug. 26 to introduce the concept, and plans are to start six-week league gameplay sessions in the fall, during which gamers play once a week for $120 per session. Super League and the theater chains have profit-sharing agreements.
James Meredith, Cinemark's vp and head of marketing and communications, said: "We have tested games over the last few years, and it worked extremely well. Super League fits right in."
Added Morris: “There are all kinds of leagues out there, but there’s still a vast group of video gamers who don’t have any way of organizing themselves into recreational teams. We were just a group of dads who saw that void and thought this would be a great way to bring gaming to life."