Interview: Hunter Hillenmeyer talks OverDog, Kickstarter and gaming with pro athletes

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In this era of social media, there are lots of ways to interact with your favorite athletes. Few are as much fun as joining them for a game of Madden or Halo 4. That’s the experience OverDog wants to provide. It’s a platform that allows pro athletes and their fans to connect and play their favorite games together.

OverDog is a mobile app that connects fans and athletes via console-based video games. It’s coming to iPhone first, with Android support soon after. Users download the app, list their gamertag or PSN ID, and can then receive challenges from athletes.  There are plans to add PC gaming further down the road. OverDog is the brainchild of former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer.

“They put some video game consoles in our players’ lounge,” Hillenmeyer explained. “Those became the most popular seats in the lounge. Whenever we had a few minutes of free time, you’d see players over there.”

Video games are also a favorite hobby for millions of sports fans. He realized it would be really fun if all these people had a way to easily connect with each other. Athletes who have signed up include All Pro wide receiver Randy Moss, Olympic swimming gold medalist Conor Dwyer and former UFC fighter Heath Herring.

OverDog is currently raising money through a Kickstarter campaign. It’s different from many of the campaigns we cover. There’s not a box of cards or miniatures for you to receive here. What you’re bidding on here is exclusive access to the platform from its launch date in April through August. You will get the first opportunity to play against world famous athletes and test the app’s features as they roll out.  Other rewards include hanging out with former NFL wide receiver Hank Baskett at his man cave for $4,000 or a game of Madden 13 against cover athlete Calvin Johnson for $7,000. A lifetime OverDog subscription comes with the Calvin Johnson package.

For $20, you can have an Early Bird subscription through the end of 2013. That will get you access through the 3-month prototype phase and the first access to the finished product in the fall. Each Early Bird also receives an “Original Gamer” badge attached to their profile forever.

“We’re coming out in April regardless,” Hillenmeyer said. “It’s not a situation where we’re not going to launch if we don’t raise enough money. This is about about giving dedicated supporters the first chance to play with athletes, and be the first to use all the features. We want to make sure we have enough fans involved that our athletes always have somebody to play against.”

As Sony showed during its PlayStation 4 announcement, making gaming more social is a priority these days. The OverDog team was watching intently.

“Things like having a one button broadcast mode, or a spectator mode, are going to be huge,” Hillenmeyer said. “Even though only one person may be playing against their favorite athlete, we want everyone to join in the experience. Say a basketball player is playing NBA 2K13 against one of his fans. We want everybody to be able to watch a livestream of that.”

Another scenario might be an athlete setting a high score, and then challenging his fans to beat it. The OverDog advisory board, which includes athletes such as MLB 2K13 cover boy David Price, realizes some gamers are more competitive than others. Whether you want to have a few fun games, or you’re so hardcore you put your kill/death ratio on your resume, they want to offer an experience that suits you.

This sounds like a really cool concept. I often participate in the “Game with Fame” and similar events on Xbox Live. I would pay the price of a used game to play Madden with  people that are actually in the game. Readers, what do you think about this idea?

Site [OverDog Kickstarter]

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