iSchool sophomores win MLB.com College Challenge
In an all-night competition that drew from their creative strengths, baseball knowledge, programming skills and presentation prowess, a team of School of Information Studies (iSchool) sophomores pulled off a win in the third annual MLB.com College Challenge.
Team “Payoff Pitch,” composed of Joey Creighton, Jon Lee, Andy Pregler and Hailey Temple, created an app called Fandom, a fantasy baseball-style experience peppered with gamification elements and competitive social challenges to share the experience with friends.
“It’s a simplified version of fantasy baseball—users can pick their favorite player’s jersey and wear it on an avatar they create, and then they can earn points based on how well their player is doing during game play that day,” explains Creighton. “We’ve designed it so that users can earn badges along the way, and see how their friends are doing.”
The badges, 85 in all, include fun quips such as the “Whip It” badge, earned when your player achieves five strikeouts in a game, and the “Whip It Good” badge, earned after 10 strikeouts.
“We hope that the badges element will help users understand the game better,” says Creighton.
In addition to the points and badges, the team also wanted to focus on the concept of moments and memories from specific games. If your avatar is wearing the jersey of a player who scores a home run during a game, for example, that moment is recorded in the app, and stored for the user along with a video clip of the experience.
The MLB.com College Challenge was an opportunity for Syracuse University students to spend all night working, hack-a-thon style, on a problem posed by MLB.com staffers. This year’s challenge emphasized the use of gamification elements. After spending all night working on their apps, students presented in front of a team of MLB.com staffers and iSchool faculty members.
“The judges loved it, and the MLB guys were smiling through the whole presentation,” says Temple.
Though the long night was grueling, the strength of the team and its members’ respective skills made it easier to get through the challenge, says Temple. “Each of us had different responsibilities and talents, and we all worked together to make it happen.”
“No matter how tired you are, at the end, it’s totally worth it. We were working for 18 hours straight on one thing, it was like our little baby,” says Creighton.
MLB.com Partner Solutions Producer Marc Squire, who served on the judging committee, said the project was “simple, effective and extremely well thought out. Team Payoff Pitch really had all of the components we were looking for, so much so that we had a hard time coming up with questions to ask them. It was really cool to see a team comprised of younger students come through like that.”
During the spring semester, the team members will be treated to a trip to MLB.com headquarters in New York City, and will have an opportunity to discuss their app with more MLB.com staffers.