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Monday, February 17, 2014

Guest Feature: 'OverDog' Allows You to Play with Professional Athletes

By: Jeff Belben

Today we’re going to take a look at OverDog, a smartphone application that allows you to game with professional athletes. Created by Steve Berneman (CEO) and Hunter Hillenmeyer (President), OverDog was founded with the purpose of enhancing the athlete/fan interaction. 

If you were to ask people that have had a random opportunity to meet a current or former professional athlete where they met them, I would venture to say that the most common answer would be at some kind of sports show/store in an autograph line. While it does provide a chance for interaction between the athletes and fans, it doesn’t allow for it to be overly personal.  Thirty to forty-five seconds of time to say “hi” and other small talk pleasantries doesn’t exactly scream personal or fulfilling.  

That’s where OverDog steps in to put their unique spin on the athlete/ fan interaction.   

OverDog launched their beta in May of 2013 with 75 athletes on board and now nine months later they’ve amassed a roster of over 350 athletes across multiple sports including NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, and not too mention a few others. The app started with support for a multitude of games on both Xbox 360 and PS3, and it has since added both next-gen systems into the fold. The number of games it currently supports across all 4 systems is up to around 20 at this point with more to come for the next gen systems. If you’re wondering what games you’ll have the best chance to play with the athletes, the people over at OverDog were nice enough to let me know what they are. Your top three games that athletes play across all four systems are Madden 25, COD: Ghosts, and FIFA 14. 

On the next gen consoles, athletes have been issuing challenges for NBA2K quite frequently. If you have any of those you’re on the right track. You may be thinking that getting 350 athletes to use this product would be easy as athletes are always looking for products to get paid to endorse.  On the contrary, OverDog doesn’t pay the athletes to use their app and game with fans. The athletes use this app voluntarily out of their love for gaming and their willingness to interact with fans, not to mention their competitive nature. 

It’s not a huge secret that athletes love video games. There is that natural connection between sports and video games and whether it comes from a competitive nature, a love for the community, or from the growing overlap with games like FIFA, Madden and NBA 2K. Taking an athlete’s passion and excitement for video games and sharing it with fans who are both passionate and excited about the athletes and the games is what the OverDog community is all about. The benefits of using video games for these connections is that neither fan or athlete ever need to leave their couch, which makes these connections much easier for the athlete who doesn't need to worry about privacy, safety, or the time constraints of traveling.

I imagine by now you’re all sitting there saying “enough already, how we get to game with the pros.” Ask and you shall receive.  First of all, pick up your smartphone, get into your app store, and search for OverDog.  After you’ve downloaded the application you get the chance to add either your Xbox or PSN gamer tags.  Along with that you’ll want to set up your roster and notifications so can get started with accepting those athlete challenges.  

Here’s how the action plays out: 

You may receive a notification that XXXXX is ready to play COD on PS3, when that happens you’ll have a limited amount of time to accept their challenge through the app.  Once you’ve accepted that challenge, you’ll go into a queue with other fans that have accepted that challenge. From there one fan will be selected at random for the chance to play with the athlete. Chances depend on the number of fans that have accepted that athletes challenge.  The key is to keep trying in future challenges if you don’t get the chance right away as most of the athletes play multiple games in one session. If you’re the lucky one that is selected for the the chance to game with the pros, you’ll get a page with gamer tags listed and then it comes time to send the friend request and get the game going. OverDog has recently added a chat feature to the app that helps to make the transition from challenge to game much easier.  It allows you to keep your opponent up to date with any happenings (i.e. system updates or trouble connecting) so that one person isn’t left waiting and wondering what happened.    

         Smartphone Notification        Selection Page Example w/ Gamertags and Chat

Aside from the chance to game with professional athletes, there’s also a section for fans to post challenges to play against other fans. In my opinion, using the app to connect to fans is much better than relying on those random online servers because you know you’ll be paired up with a fellow fan and OverDog user which instantly gives you something in common with your opponent.  OverDog was kind enough again to share some numbers with me to show that the most commonly played games through fan challenges have been COD Ghosts, Madden 25, and Black Ops 2.  

Wondering why I chose to write a feature piece on OverDog and what they do?  I’m an OverDog user and have had a lot of fun using it.  I stumbled across it shortly after it went live in September and since then I’ve been telling as many people as I can about it.  I’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to game with athletes from a couple different sports leagues (NFL- current and former, MLB, and MLS) and have had nothing but great experiences with them.  Talking about their experiences within their respective sports as well as their favorite games to play is just the starting point.  They’ve taken the time to ask about what I do for a living and get to know me beyond just being a game opponent for a short period of time. Will they all do this? Not necessarily, but you never know who you’re lucky enough to get a chance to game with.  If you’re a sports fan and a gamer, this is the app for you.  Well what are you waiting for? Go get the app and start dominating professional athletes! 

Make sure to check them out at to learn more about OverDog. If you have the time, head on over to YouTube and check out their channel .  There you’ll see challenge videos from athletes who use OverDog as well some recorded game play from an event they did with five of the biggest NFL running backs and one lucky fan on Xbox 360.  

Check out this link to be taken to your respective app store to download OverDog and open up a whole new world within your gaming. 

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