When we read about an esports event that set itself up with: “Jack Parow and Fokofpolisiekar have combined forces with Warner Bros. Entertainment, Ster Kinekor Entertainment and tournament operators ACGL” we got a tingling sensation in the parts of our bodies that tingle when we get very, very excited.
That esports event was the Injustice 2 South African Cup (I2CZA) where the winner, Brandon ‘Sho Kahn’ Jacob, picked up a casual R20,000 and will be flying off to Birmingham in August to compete at the VS Fighting tournament for a further $20,000.
Now all of that sounds pretty damn cool, but it’s not what we’re here to talk about today. We’re here to talk about combining esports events and music events to make e-music events. Totally kidding, e-music is not a thing. But combining esports and music is.
To tell us more about the benefits of merging the two and how it can help grow the South African esports scene, we chatted to Nick Holden from ACGL, who immediately pointed out we should have been talking to someone else.
“We can’t take the credit for creating the esports/concert hybrid, that credit goes to Ronelle Hendriks (Warner Brothers Games Product Manager) who approached us with the idea around March of last year.
Once we heard of the broad concept, we jumped out of our skin in excitement.
Those of you that know my business partner, ZombieDredd, know that he has been attempting to integrate gaming and music into events for quite some time. Anyone that has visited a Trenchtown LAN or been at one the music festival activations can testify to that.
So once we heard about the bands that were going to be involved, we were immediately sold on the idea.”
Ronelle Hendriks, probably more famous for being Sam Wright from Tech Girl’s bestie and roommate, does a ton of work behind the scenes in local esports. We can all be very thankful we have someone like her getting brands to invest in such awesome and innovative concepts like the Injustice 2 SA Cup.
Because if we just continue to host the same old esports events we’ve always done, catering only to hardcore fans, the local scene is never going to realise the growth that everyone is hoping for.
“Esports in South Africa is still very young. It’s currently not in the public sphere as much as we would all like it to be. It’s definitely heading in that direction, but it’s going to take time to get it there.
I believe events like the Injustice 2 South African Cup bring it more into the public sphere, by using bands that are well known, to give esports a spotlight within an audience it usually won’t reach.”
Nick has stressed the importance of attracting new people to the scene to avoid stagnation to us many times before. The Injustice 2 SA Cup looked to attract fans of Jack Parow and Fokofpolisiekar, which seems like a very natural fit. Jack Parow is known to love playing video games.
And while live music pairs well with esports, there are also other audiences we can tap into to grow our own community. At Rush and the VS Gaming Festival last weekend we saw both FIFA events reaching out to the fans of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates by having the teams sponsor the events and getting players to come down and play.
“I think we have to attract, first and foremost, people to gaming. We all know the ‘typical gamer’ stigma, and I don’t want to even repeat what it is because that’s half the reason why it’s perpetuated in the first place – on a side note; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, that is great!
Back to the point, bringing people to gaming. Event’s like the I2CZA put gaming in front of an audience who see their icons (Jack Parow & Fokofpolisekar) playing a fighting game – it’s a great advert for gaming first and foremost. The second side to that coin is the competitive element and showing to the public that there is glory, prestige and money to be won when simply playing video games.
As for the audience, I think I would be a bit mad to think that the audience of 1800 people came for the grand finals alone – they, for the most part came for the bands. But, and it’s a big butt and I cannot lie, they watched and enjoyed gaming perhaps for the first time.
Whether they knew it or not, they were a part of an esports event which we believe the audience largely enjoyed. For that audience, that makes the transition a little bit less stigmatised when they next pick up the controller and perhaps a little more susceptible to participating in the next event.”
Growing esports is the goal of every single organisation and event in the South African scene, we all say it’s what we want to do. But combining esports and music events does far more than just that. Nick believes it has something to offer the casual esports fan that we’ve been missing.
“Fun. Plain and simple.
Esports will always be great for existing fans, but what does it offer to those that are standing on the fence?
Esports is a completely different world to some people, and bands allow the two worlds of what is known and what isn’t known to collide.”
Having bands around also helps with another issue that has been plaguing esports events since day one: What to do with downtime. When you’ve got a band there for the evening you can use them to interact with fans and take part in things like celebrity showmatches.
It also means that after the final match people have something to do that keeps the high going for longer. You don’t just awkwardly avoid each other’s’ gazes, pick up your things and leave.
So, why were Jack Parow and Fokofpolisiekar the two artists chosen for the event?
“Cause they fokkin legit!”
Indeed they are.
“They also have a pretty big fan base, which helps.”
Right, that’s probably the the more likely reason. Just check out our featured image (if you need directions, it’s back at the top of the article) if you want some visual proof of what musicians can do for esports. It looks like a concert, but it’s Jack Parow and Francois van Coke playing video games. +1 for vibe.
“People were definitely more excited for the music. The whole floor was packed.
That said, when we kicked off on Saturday night, people were standing around the bar and seated at their respective tables. By the time we were done, the front of the stage was fairly packed with enthusiastic viewers – achievement unlocked!”
Whether you’re keen to see Jack Parow and Fokofpolisiekar, as well as some esports, or you’re keen to see some esports, as well as Jack Parow and Fokofpolisiekar, it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day it’s attracting more people to esports. People who may never have found their way there otherwise.
And, as Jack Parow would say, that’s fokkin lekker!
P.S. ACGL are officially up to 182 online tournaments and 2,394 reported matches.