The second annual esports experience will include immersive leadership training for three Special Olympics athletes to become shoutcasters for the broadcast
Since 1968, Special Olympics has been on a mission to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities across the world by fostering acceptance through the power of sports. Here at Xbox, we’re honored to partner with Special Olympics again for the second annual Gaming for Inclusion esports event, and to showcase the power of inclusion through gaming.
Following its successful debut in 2021, Gaming for Inclusion 2022 will bring together Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners to compete in Rocket League on Xbox and PC for the chance to play alongside Special Olympics celebrity supporters. This includes NFL legend Jamaal Charles, TikTok influencer and content creator vaultboy, and WWE Superstars in an upcoming Celebrity Showcase on September 17.
Gaming for Inclusion is a virtual, multi-day esports tournament giving people the opportunity to compete for something far greater than first place — the power of inclusion. The tournament will engage and connect people of all abilities from Canada and the United States.
For Xbox, the tournament is part of a larger goal to make gaming inclusive and welcoming to all players so that everyone can experience the joys of gaming. It is also a meaningful and important step in making esports more accessible by empowering Special Olympics athletes to compete in a new way.
“We’re honored to again partner with Special Olympics International for the 2nd annual Gaming for Inclusion event this September,” said Jeff Hansen, GM Strategic Brand Partnerships at Microsoft. “This year, Microsoft is empowering Special Olympics athletes to participate beyond the playing field by providing hands-on training as on-air talent to host and shoutcast in the tournament broadcast on the official Xbox Twitch channel. Microsoft is committed to supporting Special Olympics in their mission to be a movement led by athletes and raise awareness for people with intellectual disabilities across areas such as sports and leadership.”
This year, Gaming for Inclusion will feature a leadership opportunity for three Special Olympics athletes to become esports shoutcasters and hosts for the Celebrity Showcase: Jose Moreno from Special Olympics Illinois, Amber Gertsch from Special Olympics Utah, and Ben Gregory from Special Olympics Indiana.
As a shoutcaster, each athlete will travel to Redmond, Washington for an immersive two-day training on Microsoft’s campus where they’ll develop skills from some of the best in esports. Through these trainings, Special Olympics athletes will learn how to analyze a game, provide commentary during a livestream, and interview athletes and celebrity guests.
“I appreciate Special Olympics and Microsoft for providing me with this incredible leadership opportunity to become a shoutcaster at this year’s Gaming for Inclusion event,” said Mr. Moreno who is also a Special Olympics Illinois Athlete Leader. “Gaming creates a common bond and a fun way to connect with people of all abilities around the world. I’ve made new friends through gaming because we love it, and anyone can play.”
Bracket-style tournaments will crown champions for each Rocket League ranking. All gaming competitions will be hosted through Microsoft’s esports platform Start.gg. Spectators can live stream the events on the official Xbox Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel:
- Saturday, September 10: Rocket League Tournament
- Saturday, September 17: Celebrity Showcase with winners from tournaments
“From the beginning of the inaugural Gaming for Inclusion virtual experience, we saw connections made and friendships developed among athletes with and without intellectual disabilities,” said Chief Information and Technology Officer at Special Olympics Prianka Nandy. “Immediately, both Special Olympics and Microsoft knew this event would continue and get bigger and better because it truly embodies the power of inclusion. This year, thanks to our incredible partners at Microsoft, we are adding a unique leadership opportunity for some of our athletes to learn from some of the best in the industry and become shoutcasters during our Celebrity Showcase.”
Don’t forget to tune in to the Celebrity Showcase on September 17 on the official Xbox Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel to see who comes out on top! You can learn more about Special Olympics by following them across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, their official blog on Medium, and SpecialOlympics.org.
Let’s Sing ABBA: When Karaoke Meets Disco
Players have been asking us for years to include more ABBA in Let’s Sing. We listened and made a special edition that will satisfy all your wishes — but we didn’t stop at the songs.
When you think about pop music, there are a lot of artists that come to mind. Some are one-hit-wonders, others have one or two successful albums. And then there are the artists and bands that shaped the genre into what it is today with their songs being seared into collective consciousness. One of those bands is, without a doubt, ABBA.
So, if you think about, it really only made sense for us to honor one of the most successful and influential pop bands of all time with their own special entry into the Let’s Sing series. Everyone knows at least some of their songs, probably even by heart without even realizing it. And we have also been asked for years to include more ABBA into our games. So by popular demand, here it is: Let’s Sing ABBA!
Picking the songs for this edition was easy and hard at the same time, simply because there are just so many hits to choose from! A few were of course absolute no-brainers. From the first moment it was completely unthinkable not to include the likes of “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” or “Super Trouper” in the playlist. From there on out, it was more of a question of “What don’t we include?”
A testament to that is the fact that we broke our own rules, at least a little bit: Usually, the international version of a Let’s Sing game includes 30 songs. However, Let’s Sing ABBA includes 31 — because we wanted to add a song from their newest album Voyage, which they released in 2021. So our karaoke players get 30 classic hits that take you right back to the era of platform shoes, flared pants and disco balls and one new hit, “I Still Have Faith In You.”
But we knew that we couldn’t stop there. To let people experience Let’s Sing the ABBA way with more than just the songs, we overhauled the interface and also the avatars to look a little bit more like the band members. Play long enough and you will unlock iconic outfits that are sure to give your next performance an additional boost of confidence.
Other than that, Let’s Sing ABBA comes with single and multiplayer modes, leaving no excuses for people not to join in. I you want to get a head start and practice on your own? We’ve got you covered. Want to get into a singing competition for the ages with some friends? Done. You’re looking for a special challenge? Our mixtape mode is definitely for you — no two playlists in this dynamically generated mode are the same.
We got a glimpse of the fact that we had made the right choice with Let’s Sing ABBA during gamescom: Even more people than we could have possibly hoped for stopped by to step into our karaoke box and belt out some disco tunes, also cramming more people in there than we thought possible. Needless to say, all of them were leaving with big smiles on their faces once they were done. Mission accomplished on our end. Thank you for the music so far and we can’t wait to see some great performances on social media!
Let’s Sing ABBA
After a 40-year break, ABBA is back! So why not perform some of the band’s biggest hits in your own living room to celebrate their triumphant return to the stage.
Travel back to the glory days with hits like “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” and “Waterloo”. Get some friends together to party with “Dancing Queen”, the musical number “Mamma Mia” or rock out to “I Still Have Faith In You”, the lead track from their brand-new album.
• A strong playlist with 31 songs: 30 popular classics from the 70s and a new hitsong from the new album Voyage
• Dress up your Avatars in iconic ABBA outfits
• Seven exciting game modes: Legend, Classic, Mix Tape 2.0, Jukebox, Feat., World Contest and Let’s Party
• Perform the ABBA classics with your friends! With fours mics and 4 smartphones, up to eight players can join in on the fun in the Let’s Party mode.
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