It’s a great learning experience, not to mention excellent gaming for racing obsessives. And Microsoft’s CART performs like a well-oiled machine on the Gadget Four Question User Test…
Review: CART Precision Racing (Microsoft)
By GLENYS WILLIAMS-HESSE
- Is it ready to use? It’s a Microsoft Game, and hence slides easily into place; as usual, with Microsoft products, the interface is well designed and intuitive to use.The minimum specs given are P60 WITH 16 Mb of RAM, 30 Mb of hard disk space, 4x CD ROM. Again, “as usual,” with Microsoft products, the minimum specs are massively inadequate. Microsoft gives recommended specs of P160, 32 Mb RAM, 100 Mb hard disk space, and 6x CD ROM. I reckon that to get the game played properly, you’ll need a P200+ and at least 220 MB free on your hard drive (so that you can run the game from there, not the CD ROM). A 3D graphics accelerator and MMX capability won’t hurt, either.You will also, really, really, need a game controller – this is not one that can be played with keyboard buttons.All of this is an indication of the multimedia intensity of the game; It’s great on that front.
- Is it easy to use? Yes. Whatever else one feels about the Empire, their use of “educators” to help design interfaces and interactive learning situations has resulted in their producing software that the user can operate easily, straight out of the box; and learn the details of as he or she uses it. They’ve done this particularly well in their games. The Learning Campaign in Age of Empires is one example; the Racing School, levels of expertise and driver’s aids here are another. I loved the peripherals in this game, and going through them, learnt more about car set up and racing driving than a month of listening to wannabe Schumachers in the pub could have given me. Although this is specifically a CART game, a lot of what the game teaches you about car set up and driving can be applied to any racing situation and any racing sim.The best way to play this game, if you are not an extremely experienced racing sim player, is to start at Rookie level, switch on all the drivers aids, switching them off one by one as you gain experience.For car setup, the game provides a “garage” where you can change the setup on your car in every aspect that would be changeable in a real race. The game supplies a short explanatory .wav file with each parameter of change; as well as a section where a “Racing Engineer” can adjust the car to fit your driving style after you’ve answered some questions.There’s an extremely informative driving school, where techniques of cornering, driving and car setup are explained further, with video clips and animated diagrams to illustrate the points.
- Does it operate as advertised?Gameplay: There were, reportedly, some control problems with the initial release of this game, and with the AI controlling the other cars on the track. Versions of the game released since February this year have incorporated improvements that address these problems (the improved versions also incorporate an extra oval track: Miami). Owners of older versions of the game can download a patch from the Microsoft web site that should make the same improvements.Although the cars are difficult to handle, as they would be in Real Life, I found steering no more difficult than in, for example, GP2, and so can only presume that the ‘fix’ has worked there. I’m not sure that the AI, even after correction, is all that great, but knowing Microsoft, if a further fix is needed, there’ll be another patch available on their website soon.You can play a quick race, one weekend or a full season, on all of the tracks available in the ’97 CART season.Graphics: These are very good – so good, in fact, that they’re slightly boring. There’s not a lot to go “ooh” and “aah” over of three to six miles of concrete-walled road with a city-scape (especially a New World one) in the background. Still, they’re realistic.Fandom: The game follows the ’97 CART season closely; and you can choose to be whatever driver you like, although once you pick a driver, you can’t change his team. The default choice of driver is Zanardi, of course, although having witnessed his first win, I tried to be Dario Franchetti for a bit.There is a track editor available for download from the Microsoft site; and, ambling around the www, I have run into unofficial sites supporting this game, where tracks and updated liveries and teams are available for download, lists of best lap times kept, and news of upcoming multi-player games are announced. For the obsessive CART fan, this game opens channels to other obsessives.
- Is it value for money? Well, at around R399 (about $65), it’s expensive. For a first time Racing Sim buyer, though, I think it definitely is worth it, especially given the support Microsoft gives through its web site, and the amount of unofficial resources that are out there to supplement what you get in the box.
TikTok looks for SA talent
The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.
TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.
TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.
Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.
There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.
“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.
Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”
The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.
Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform
The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.
“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”
Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”
Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.
“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”
The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.
“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”
The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces.
In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.
To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.
The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.
The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.
Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.
“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull