Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 13 – World Semifinals Prep

We are back from San Francisco, National Winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup!

Before we leave, Randy reminds us that we have one week from our win date (Thursday) to turn in our updated materials if we want to be part of the World Semifinals and potentially the Imagine Cup World Finals. The Global Semifinals are really Microsoft making a determination of which of the three US winners (First Place Global Citizenship, Innovation or Games) will go to the Global Finals in Seattle in July.  Continuing on to World is optional, but we are committed.

The official dates for the World Semifinals are listed as April 23 to May 1, 2016.

Where we go from here:Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 6.56.58 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-03 at 6.57.12 PM

Official rules and World Citizenship category specific rules.  Other categories.

That is our competition roadmap.  The project also has financial and production roadmaps we look forward to reviewing this week!

After a short follow up interview Saturday, the Salt Lake Tribune article on B.E.S.T. finally releases Sunday morning.  The reporter, Michael McFall, includes a link to this blog.  🙂

I’ve updated the B.E.S.T. Events page to be B.E.S.T. Events and Press, and am adding links to news coverage there.  I am told the University of Utah will put out a press release shortly, and we are already on the front page of EAE’s website.  Rachel updates our portfolio page with recent screen shots, the National Finals win, and a description written by our team instead of the program.  Thanks Rachel!

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 6.36.47 PM

Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Jeff McAdam Fox 13 NowphotoMore press!  Jeff McAdam of FOX 13 Now contacts me Monday to arrange a video segment on FOX.  We spend just over two hours filming during Projects. Then AJ tells us KUTV wants to do an interview Thursday, and I get a text from the Salt Lake Tribune’s live web show Trib Talk asking to talk to us Wednesday from 12:15 to 12:45.

photo (1)Shahbaz demos the garage scenario and I talk about the big picture for B.E.S.T.  Then Jeff plays the game himself and takes a few minutes to compose the opening of the story.  I have no idea how they are going to edit all of that footage to 90 seconds…  We try to include Ahmad, Nidal, and Eric as well.  Charlie is in Seattle this week.

Thursday, April 7, 2016.

We have a second TV interview with Jeremy Harris of KUTV.  This one goes a bit faster and should be on around 12:30 this afternoon.

Economic SummitI also register to attend the Utah Governor’s Economic Summit next week.  I went last year and it is one of my favorite events of the year.  Amazing food, successful people, and some great keynote speakers and sponsors including the Governor.  I’ll be representing B.E.S.T., talking to VC’s, and hopefully reconnect with people from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program about this fall.  Tickets are $200.

…The news coverage turns out well, very positive.  Media attention is a high stakes play test, and it is always interesting to see our work through someone else’s eyes.  It helps to refine our message and I look forward to adding features to the game as a result.

The reporter did ask one of our toughest questions yet:  So let’s say police academies are already trying to teach de-escalation along with use of force.  (Not the same thing!)  What is the need for our product then?  Here is my view:  As long as there is a single death in a state or the country, there is a life and death problem to be solved, and B.E.S.T. addresses 1,300+ single deaths that happened last year in the United States in spite of existing training.  That is more deaths than happened the previous year or the year before that.  Existing training is not solving the problem, and in some cases may be making it worse.  Tomorrow we get to tour some of that existing training.

I don’t think any American would say the problem is solved.  All fifty states had at least one death last year, with California having over 200.  The headlines are still full of the three people a day who are killed by police in America and one police officer every three days killed in the line of duty.  If anything, they are underreporting it.

This is not to say our police academies are not trying.

B.E.S.T. is the first and only police officer training simulator to focus specifically on de-escalation over use of force.

There is a lot more I can say about this, but I will save it for one on one discussions with state governments and police agencies.

Friday, April 8, 2016.

VRScout-virtual-reality-275I get a call from VRScout.com wanting to do an interview!  I read them often, so I am excited for the interview, which is part by phone and part email.

I also get a helpful email through out website recommending we do a demo at the International Association of Chiefs of Police meeting this October.  Thanks! 🙂

Saturday, April 9, 2016.

51TfZuDfpPL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_I attend the evening launch party for Chance Thomas’ new text book, Composing Music for Games.  He hands out some great prizes like an elf cloak from when he composed music for Lord of the Rings Online and an invite to his $150 music composition workshop May 7th.  He signs a copy of his book for me, and we plan to meet so we can talk about music for B.E.S.T.  The textbook says either he or projects he has worked on (not sure which one) won at least one Emmy and one Oscar.  In games, he is known for composing the music for DOTA 2, among others.  I look forward to working with him!