A lot is being said about gaming in South Africa at the moment, the general consensus being that this is the year for us. Telkom is dropping serious cash into their new incarnation of the Digital Gaming League, eSports are being shown on DSTV and rAge is now also in Cape Town. Exciting times indeed. We spent the weekend at rAge to try and get a feel for the current state of the local gaming and eSports scene.
Let’s start with the expo itself. It was a little underwhelming. You get very excited when you walk in and everywhere you look you see gaming and geekiness. You just want to do all of the things all at the same time. But once you reunite your overexcited child brain with your functioning member of society brain and, in an orderly fashion, make your way around the expo, you realise that it’s mostly just things you’ve seen before. The regular shops, games you’ve probably played and no tech that brings out that overexcited child again.
Having said that, just seeing all of your favourite things together in one place does warm the heart and make you optimistic about the future of gaming in South Africa. This was just round one of rAge in Cape Town and it did do its part to help grow the local gaming scene by exposing loads of the more casual gamers and tech enthusiasts to the competitive side of eSports. More specifically, how damn exciting watching eSports can be.
Many people have no idea how entertaining competitive gaming can be to watch. Insert all the football and rugby comparisons you want here, but don’t get too caught up on them, because competitive gaming has more going for it from a spectator point of view than regular sports. Foremost being their ability to constantly evolve, which makes playing more fun, spectating more entertaining and analysing tactics endlessly engaging.
When you rounded the corner to get your fist glimpse of the Telkom DGL booths, you almost couldn’t believe what you were seeing. There were two booths that wouldn’t look out of place at an international eSports event, complete with casting booth and a hosting desk. Needless to say, your child brain lost its mind. Telling you things like, you could be playing in those booths, you’re good enough to be a pro if you spend more time playing games, definitely quit your job and go pro. And as you sat there watching the eight DGL Masters teams battle it out for their share of R100 000, those crazy ideas didn’t really seem that crazy anymore. The guys from Bravado Gaming walked out of there with R40k for winning the tournament, not bad for a weekend’s work.
We caught up with James ‘zerOchaNce’ Wijnberg, captain of Aperture Gaming, last weekend’s runners-up, and he had high praise for 2016’s first DGL.
“From a quality point of view I don’t think any other LAN I’ve been to bar ESWC in Paris provided the same setup. The environment we played in was just great, I hope this sets the standard now for tournaments in the country. Telkom managed the tournament very well and there were very few delays.”
Are those positive comments about Telkom? Feel free to go back and check, but you’ll find the same thing we have: In one weekend Telkom managed to win over hundreds of gamers with their impressive DGL setup and production. Sure there were some issues, but nothing that can’t be solved. And while their R1million investment in eSports might have seemed a bit irrational to some before rAge, now there’s no doubt that it will be money well spent. And as an added bonus, when you’re hanging out with your “Games are for kids” friends or parents, you can say, “Well there are kids winning a million rand playing games this year”. Drop mic, exit stage left.
To wrap up, we at Good Luck Have Fun would like to take a moment to say thank you to Telkom. Possibly the first thank you they’ve ever got. But by the looks of things, not the last one.