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News

Heart Shaped Games

November 22, 2018

How Virtual Repetitions is proving Video Games and Basketball Need Each Other

Author: Scott Brodie, Founder, Creative Director Heart Shaped Games

I first met Shawn Cooper, CEO of Virtual Repetitions, at our local pickup basketball spot. It took a few weeks before we would eventually get to chatting beyond basketball, but we quickly realized we had far more in common than just the sport. As the Founder and Creative Director at Heart Shaped Games, an independent game development studio, I talked about my desire to eventually bring my two passions together: Game design and basketball. Little did I know that Shawn and his team at Virtual Repetitions were already making this a reality.

Virtual Repetitions was born out of the needs of coaches and players, building a fantastic tool in its flagship “Virtual Playbook” app. Virtual Playbook lets coaches create plays (or build a playbook from an existing database) and then share them with their staff and players. Players can then see those plays visualized in a 3D environment on their favorite device, allowing them to get reps outside of live practice.

I was excited to find a way to help. Coming from the game industry, my focus is always first and foremost about the player’s experience. Moment-to-moment feel, piquing curiosity, and immersion are critical to making games fun to play and engaging over a long period of time. Heart Shaped Games typically builds traditional entertainment-focused games across desktop and mobile, so it was interesting to see what could still apply in something that is not a game.

Together, our companies are partnering to innovate how digital entertainment and sports software intersect. One of the biggest ways we’ve had an impact was in bringing a game-like experience to Virtual Repetitions. Our most recent focus has been on building a “Player Control” mode, where players can control a character directly like a videogame, in order to run through the steps of a play. Coaches can send a play to their team, and players can run through their piece as many times as they need.

The player control mode’s genius lies in the applied video game simulation, which turns a game into a lesson. It immerses the player in a realistic environment, letting them visualize what it will be like to run the play. Players are able to look at the play from any angle, so they can understand how their singular piece fits into the broader strategy of the play. They can run the play over and over until they get it right, with immediate, clear feedback on how they performed. Finally and most importantly, it lets players learn at their own pace, instead of being lost during drills or holding up their teammates during valuable gym time.

Most importantly, it makes high level sports concepts easy to grasp because it is delivered in a format young people are most familiar with: Video Games. It makes otherwise boring, rote practice exciting and entertaining instead. And it helps develop their basketball IQ, which often gets sidelined to developing physical skills and fitness.

These benefits are why I’m so passionate about the potential of video games to transform the way we play and coach sports, and why I named my company Heart Shaped Games. I believe games have the potential to be more than cheap fun or a quick escape. Games can have a long-lasting impact, especially with young people who intuitively understand the language of games.

Virtual Repetitions is doing something important for the field: Improving player development and improving coaching capability. I’m excited to see the impact Virtual Playbook can have, and look forward to seeing where else video games and sports can support each other in the future.

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“It is strikingly clear that VReps is poised to bring basketball into the 21st century.”

John Halas New York Knicks