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Golden Tee Live Fronts A Not-so Virtual Community


June 12, 2008
By Stacy Bradshaw


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Attendees at last month’s official Golden Tee Live launch party learned
first-hand that multiplayer arcade games generate a dearth of social
interaction. This skill-based, community-building entertainment trumps
any critic’s argument that healthy social relations are being eroded by
video games.

Attendees at last month’s official Golden Tee Live launch party learned
first-hand that multiplayer arcade games generate a dearth of social
interaction. This skill-based, community-building entertainment trumps
any critic’s argument that healthy social relations are being eroded by
video games.

On a small scale, with a few strangers meeting around an arcade
machine, to GT tournaments of 40 to 50 players – and now with online
gaming – a rich social dynamic amongst a universal community of Golden
Tee golfers has been created.

Hosted by Starburst Coin Machines Inc., the launch party held at
Philthy McNasty’s in Toronto, exposed what can only be considered a
“Golden Tee culture.”

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The large population of regular competitors in North America, some of
whom play upwards of 250 games a month and travel across the continent
to compete, look forward to these tournaments and events to bring all
the familiar faces together.
 
“I’ve made tons of friendships that will probably last a long time,
because of this game,” said Anthony Goertz, a key player on Canada’s
Golden Tee Live national team.

The launch was held in conjunction with the Ontario qualifier, one of
three events held to find 32 top players to compete in the Canadian
Nationals. From there, the top four travel to Orlando, Florida to
represent Canada in the World vs. the United States tournament.
 
With prize pots of up to $57,000, this type of competitive, on-premise
entertainment benefits skilled players like Goertz both personally and
financially. Goertz told Canadian Vending he has made over $3,000
dollars since July 2005 and declares his proudest moment as being
interviewed on The Golf Channel.

Goertz is admittedly “in it for the cash.” He said GT Live is a much
better platform for a player like him, because the money is received
instantaneously and can be put toward the next round.

“It stops being just a video game at that point.”

Golden Tee Live is the first coin-operated game to allow players to compete online for real cash and prizes.
Andrew Cosgrove agrees it is the online opportunity to make money that
is going to sell this game, but for him, monetary rewards aren’t what
keep him coming back.

“It’s to see friendly faces … I enjoy going out … I’m out for few
drinks, and it’s hilarious to play with a bunch of people.” Cosgrove
explained that the game doesn’t necessarily attract the typical video
gamer. Cosgrove used to work security at a bar; he ridiculed the “video
geeks” who constantly came in just to play previous incarnations of the
game. Now, he gets in about twenty rounds a week.

Justin Keywood, marketing associate for Starburst, the official
Canadian distributor, said they are working actively at these events to
solicit new players and hopefully some new pro competitors.

“Golden Tee Fore was a huge success with a good solid player base,”
said Keywood, and he plans to add to that with Golden Tee Live.

In 2004, the Amusement and Music Operators Association (AMOA) honoured
the creators of the game, Incredible Technologies, with the prestigious
Innovator Award, recognizing Golden Tee Live as the most innovative and
groundbreaking game of the year.

In 2005, the game won IT another Innovator Award; this one focused on the cashless payment options.
“It’s very encouraging to us that operators have acknowledged the
future of coin-op is in cashless payments,” said Larry Hodgson,
vice-president of product development and designer of Golden Tee.
 
The operator and location owner contribute a great deal to the success
of these events and tournaments, according to Melanie Howe, the
Canadian tournament coordinator.
 
Howe said IT and Starburst choose places like Philthy McNasty’s because
they’ve worked with them in the past. It gives them peace of mind to
know they can trust the equipment, power sources and space availability.
“It’s comforting to know that they know what we need.”

For Howe, it’s also comforting to see the players follow a sort of
unwritten code of conduct. Competitors are seen giving each other
high-fives or overheard giving each other playing tips, even if it
means risking a prize pot of up to $15,000. It is this aspect of the
virtual golf game that parodies the real-life version the most – acting
as a forum for etiquette and sportsmanship.