GoCrossCampus provides online realm for rivalries

The Gophers may have lost to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes on the football field, but the result was the opposite in a new online game gaining popularity with college students. GoCrossCampus , or GXC, is an online team-based social game that allows players to compete against their rivals. It now includes a tournament just for Big Ten schools. Often compared to the board game Risk , GXC takes the form of an intramural sport rather than a typical online game. Individuals or small groups can compete against each other and GXC teams can be made up of hundreds or thousands of players who play on behalf of a university, a dorm or even a presidential candidate. Matthew Brimer , chief marketing officer of GoCrossCampus and a senior at Yale University, said he and four friends developed the game to create purposeful online social interaction. âÄúUltimately our goal for all of this is to build a fun, social, engaging game that people enjoy,âÄù he said. The first GXC tournament was played in October 2007. It then expanded to include the popular Ivy League Tournament, which Brimer said already had its second annual GXC tournament, building upon the more than 11,000 participants during its debut. GXC, now a company, has received venture capital and the creators of the game hope to expand its audience beyond college students, Brimer said. âÄúOne of the most surprising things is how rapid itâÄôs spread,âÄù he said. He said in the future they hope to tap into fans of professional teams and international audiences. Not trying to compare itself to Facebook , Brimer said the concept has taken off similarly, but he hopes GXC will give people motivation to interact socially online, rather than just to âÄúpokeâÄù one another. After receiving inquiries from other universities, Brimer and the other developers worked to expand the tournament to other colleges, including the University of Minnesota, he said. Electrical engineering junior Kevin OâÄôConnor is one of 259 registered players for the University in the Big Ten Championship . He said he heard about GXC through a University listserv e-mail and thought the challenge looked interesting. âÄúI have a lot of time to waste,âÄù he said. âÄúI probably spend an hour or two a day on here.âÄù OâÄôConnor, who said he likes the strategy that goes into playing, was selected as one of the teamâÄôs âÄúcommanders,âÄù meaning he is responsible for helping develop attack strategies and defending territories. Having teammates from your own university makes this online experience different from other online games, aerospace engineering senior and GXC player Ben Bradley said. âÄú[GXC] is mostly just entertainment value and a bit of school rivalry,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs also a great way to bring people on the campus together who are interested in this type of game.âÄù Bradley, who also serves as one of the University commanders, said the Big Ten Championship has allowed for good school rivalry banter. Giving someone besides athletes a chance to represent their school pride by winning a competition is one of the reasons the tournaments often are between schools with rivalries, Brimer said. The Big Ten Championship, which began in early November, is currently down to four teams, with the University in first place. The game will run until one school captures all of the territories on the map, OâÄôConnor said. As for University students interested, Bradley said he hopes to get a campus game going where students would fight for the Northrop Mall or Coffman Union . OâÄôConnor said thereâÄôs still time to join and help win the Big Ten Championship. âÄúThe game is far from over,âÄù he said. âÄúThere has been some trash talking, particularly between us and Michigan State.âÄù