Pittsbugh -- There are video games that allow you to wage war, steal cars, destroy zombies and build cities. You can fight street thugs or replay the Steelers’ white-knuckled victory in Super Bowl XLIII. Video games let you destroy the Death Star, rescue hostages and race dirt bikes.
Seems strange, then, that until RMU alumnus Carlo Sunseri came along, there was no video game dedicated to the sport of lacrosse – one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports, with two professional leagues and teams at hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States.
Sunseri, a former player and assistant coach of RMU’s Division I men’s lacrosse team, is the co-creator of College Lacrosse 2010, a new game available for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 system. The game is available online at the Xbox Live Marketplace, an indie game channel that allows developers to sell directly to consumers and share the profits with Microsoft.
“As a lacrosse player and a huge gamer, I wanted to play a lacrosse game, and it was always a dream to be a part of a lacrosse video game,” says Sunseri, who captained the RMU team before his 2007 graduation. He earned a degree in sport management.
Sony’s PlayStation system did have an indoor lacrosse game, but there was nothing for the more widely played outdoor version of the sport, called field lacrosse.
Sunseri was browsing through Xbox’s indie game channel in April when he came upon a soccer game called Fitba, which was created by Jonathan “Fritz” Ackerly, a video game developer in Scotland. Sunseri contacted Ackerly about adapting Fitba for lacrosse. Ackerly signed on, even though he had never seen the sport.
“I was intrigued when Carlo first contacted me. I had no idea of the popularity of lacrosse in the States, and it sounded like an exciting possibility,” says Ackerly via email. “Clearly there are big differences between soccer and lacrosse, but we ripped it back to the fundamentals of players running around a field and then rebuilt from there.”
During the six months the pair spent working on College Lacrosse, they never met in person – the closest they got was the occasional video conference. Every week Ackerly e-mailed Sunseri a new version of the game to test, and Sunseri respond with his feedback. This YouTube video shows the progression of the game from Fitba to College Lacrosse.
The game, which costs $5 to download, became available the Xbox Live Marketplace in November. It has been the site’s second-highest rated game, and has been downloaded approximately 45,000 times as of December. The game boasts more than 75,000 fans on Facebook, and it has gotten plenty of attention in the lacrosse and gaming communities.
Sunseri and Ackerly plan to update the game this year, and they hope to have the game licensed by the NCAA so that it can feature real college lacrosse teams. A pro version also is in development, according to Sunseri.
“This experience has been extremely surreal and I was happy to be a part of it,” says Sunseri.