Surferball is the perfect sport for the future


A few months ago, Brian David Gilbert of Polygon asked me if I wanted to collaborate on an Unraveled. I said yes without hesitation. Brian’s idea was to blend the best of traditional sports and esports to create the perfect FutureSport. Challenge accepted.

Before filming, we decided that it would be helpful if we asked you all what sports and video games that you at least knew the basics for. If you participated in our survey, I want to thank you. Your input was very helpful in how we shaped the episode.

After going through many sport combinations, we decided to combine the aspects of Subway Surfer and Dodgeball. We picked a free mobile game because we wanted this to be as accessible as possible. Not everyone has the same game consoles (as evidenced by the frustrating PS5 rollout), but almost everyone has a phone.

Here’s how Subway Surfer x Dodgeball worked out:

I want to talk a little bit more here about the combinations we tried which did not make the cut to be chosen as the perfect FutureSport.

Basketball x Smash Bros

Synergy: 2
Access: 2
Fun: 2

Notes: There just wasn’t anything here. It’s super hard to play Smash Bros with one hand. I already suck at playing Smash with two hands, so this wasn’t going to end well for me. The other thing is that I couldn’t really figure out the point of the basketball portion? To actually score we’d need to find a gym/court and if anyone ever saw us doing this on a normal basketball court they’d kick us the fuck off of the court. Which … fair.

Looking back I think this specific pairing could have fared better if it was handball, but even that is a can of worms that we just didn’t have time for. We’ll grade each category out of five.

Basketball x Solitaire

Synergy: 2
Access: 3
Fun: 1

Notes: Like before, basketball is a hard sport to implement into a multitasking scheme.

I would also argue that Solitaire is also just as difficult. I can button mash in Smash, I can’t button mash in Solitaire. Either Solitaire games are supposed to take forever or I’m just not that good at them. All of the endgames in this seemed unappealing as well. Do you play until you win the Solitaire round? What happens if you can’t win the Solitaire round? This trial was basically a headache.

I would rather play any other game but Solitaire.

Running x Tetris

Synergy: 5
Access: 5
Fun: 3

Notes: This really flowed well together, but I don’t think the two activities would have made for an entertaining video. It just felt like a really good workout that helped me forget that I was actually exercising. Tetris running is a good single player experience but I couldn’t see this turning into a fun interactive competition.

Soccer x Minion Rush

Synergy:4
Access: 3
Fun: 4

Notes: Soccer and Minion Rush would actually be a good combo if Minion Rush didn’t have a damn pop up every single time you died. After every game it seemed like there was a new intro or new feature being added to the game. Annoying. Soccer looks like it could be a potential good collaboration tool in the future because you can play video games with your hands and soccer with your feet.

It was an idea with some potential, but in the end we agreed that Minion Rush wasn’t the right endless runner. Too many ads.

Soccer x Smash Bros

Synergy: 2
Access: 4
Fun: 4

Even though Smash Bros with two hands is easier than one hand, it’s still a game that involved heavy screen concentration. I often found myself either falling off the changing Smash maps or forgetting that I had to keep dribbling a soccer ball. So while this was chaotic fun, it would have been a very hard FutureSport to play.


Thanks for watching the video! It was so much fun to work with Brian and the rest of Polygon.





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