In years past, sports fields have been the primary domain of Ivy League competition. But a group of Ivy students hopes to expand the rivalry to the Internet — starting today.
The Ivy League Championship Tournament, developed by four Yale College students and one Columbia University undergraduate, pits members of Ancient Eight schools against one another in a virtual battle for control of the Eastern seaboard. The Risk-inspired game — co-sponsored by GoCrossCampus and the Ivy Council — kicks off today, starting with a three-day recruitment and strategy period, and it will conclude by early December, Matthew Brimer ’09, the group’s chief marketing officer, said.
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Players log into the Web site, place armies belonging to their own school and then attack territories held by other Ivies or defend their own. Players are given directions for each turn by a school commander, who is democratically elected and subject to impeachment, Brimer said.
The Ivy Council is a student-run organization that draws its members from the Ivy schools’ respective student governments.
The five founders of GoCrossCampus said that after observing the popularity of Old Campus Risk at Yale and College Events Board Risk at Harvard University, they were convinced students would appreciate an inter-Ivy competition.
“You aren’t just playing by yourself in a dark basement,” Brimer said. “You’re playing in a game with your entire school, fighting to conquer the others.”
The Old Campus Risk games allow Yalies to place and command armies in territories controlled by their residential colleges, all on a virtual map of Old Campus.
Brimer said Harvard and Yale are the only Ivies that have developed Risk-inspired online games so far.
Students involved with Old Campus Risk said students bonded over the game, which launched in January. They said they expect the same to be true of the Ivy League Championship Tournament.
Carl Kubler ’10, who played Old Campus Risk starting last year, said he is looking forward to the all-Ivy game, which will give him a chance to play alongside students he considered enemies in the Yale-only games.
“After Old Campus Risk, there were enemies, but now we are going to be coming together,” he said.
Founders of GoCrossCampus said they hope students will tap into this kind of spirit over the course of the game. Brad Hargreaves ’08, one of the founders, said the Ivy League Championship Tournament is an online sport, not an online game.
Harvard junior John Selig, the vice president of Harvard Interactive Media Group — which is sponsoring the game at Harvard — said he is expecting a least a few hundred of his fellow Cantabs to be involved in the beginning. Selig thinks the game will probably become more popular in the coming weeks, he said.
“This fervor is usually reserved for sports,” Selig said. “This could turn into something as exciting as a Harvard-Yale game.”
Some students interviewed at Yale said they are not yet familiar with the all-Ivy game but they are excited to have a chance to try it out.
Sam Pilku ’11 said he never felt a close tie to his teammates while playing Old Campus Risk, but he anticipates an Ivy League version will be more fun.
“Students would just come into my room and have me log into the Web site and place the troops for me,” Pilku said, referring to his experience with last winter’s game.
Some Yale students said they were annoyed by the e-mails they received every night while playing Old Campus Risk. The programmers at GoCrossCampus said they realized that frequent e-mails might turn off potential players, so only people who register on the GoCrossCampus Web site will receive e-mails related to the game.
The new competition will feature private team chats within the Yale community and public chats that allow Yalies to talk to students from the entire Ivy League, the programmers said.
In addition to undergraduates, the founders said they expect to see graduate students, faculty and alumni join in the competition.
As of Sunday night, 465 Yale students had registered online to participate in the game.