By Kervyn Cloete
Friday nights in Cape Town are usually spent in the consumption of cheap boxed wine and playing stab-tag with broken bottle heads. However, just like the MWeb Battlefield 3 launch of the week before, this past Friday night I found myself at the launch of 2upgamers, in the esteemed company of some highly passionate gamers, who are on a mission to put the Cape Town gaming community on the proverbial map.
It was an outstanding evening of interesting discussion, great laughs, fun games and lots of pizza.
“But what is 2upgamers?” I hear you cry out in your faux-manly voice. Well, in short it’s a monthly gaming event, currently hosted at the Rygersdal Sports Club, where local gamers will get to interact with distributors, publishers and local gaming community figures, as well as jamming some fun gaming titles with fellow gamers. Oh and did I mention that they had pizza?
This event is the brainchild of Glenn Alexander, Ashley O’Neill, Hylton Arendse and Zaida Kamish, spawning out of the weekly CPT Gaming Meetup. And in a direct contradiction to the stereotype that everything in Cape Town moves about as fast as a drug-addled snail on crutches, this event went from idea to reality in just a measly 3 weeks. A testament to the drive and passion that these guys have.
For this inaugural event we got treated to some very informative talks and presentations, and first up was Ramone Pickover, the Category Manager for Games from Kalahari.com.
He’s relatively new to the job, having only taken over from his predecessor in July. He admits it was this transition period that may have led to a few niggles on their side, but that he was now personally driving their quest for excellence.
A big part of this quest is a high focus on pre-orders. It became easily apparent how important this was, when it was revealed that currently 80% of Kalahari’s gaming sales is done via pre-orders. Not only would Ramone and his group be ensuring that every pre-order is received on launch day, but they will also be doing their best to get completely exclusive pre-order incentives. They would also be striving to ensure that South Africa is not treated like a red-haired stepchild when it comes to stock allocations for special editions.
Alas, this does not include the Assassin’s Creed Animus Edition or Collector’s Edition of Skyrim. Guess I’m going to have to find another epic dragon statue to
touch myself to put on my shelf.
In an uncommon show of honesty, he also admitted that their email support is lacking as they often get delayed due to backlogs. To combat this, they now have two call-centre operatives, Dax and Peter, who can be contacted directly through the call-centre if you have any issues. Gaming related issues, that is. I would definitely not use them for advice on that itchy burning sensation you’ve been experiencing lately.
Next up to address the crowd was MWeb’s Online Gaming Manager, Desmond Kurz, quickly becoming a very recognizable figure in the local gaming scene. He provided some interesting statistics from a recent Price Waterhouse Coopers study, entitled “South African Entertainment and Media Outlook”.
In 2008, South Africa sported 45 000 online gamers. In 2010, that number had nearly doubled to 85 000, and with a projected figure of 300 000 by 2015. That’s a whole lot of people online, and chances are most of them will question your sexual orientation at some point or another while playing Halo.
As impressive as that growth is, that figure still pales in comparison with the numbers of some other countries though. What this means, is that if we want to be taken seriously on the world gaming stage, we cannot rely on numbers alone. We have to get the rest of the world talking about South Africa, and the only way to do this, is to get right in their faces.
To accomplish this, MWeb are partnering with a European gaming competition organizer – the name of which unfortunately could not be revealed due to the official press release not being ready yet. This company though, has years of experience in running events and administer 20 000 matches per day. They will bring a highly polished, professional objectivity to local competitions, as well as the possibility of eventually bringing European teams to our shores for friendly matches.
With their help, Cape Town’s top 8 Battlefield 3 players will be determined and pitted against two clans from Denmark and Holland, respectively. And thanks to impressing MWeb’s top brass, the venue used for the Battlefield 3 launch will now become a permanent fixture to be used in these competitions, so as to ensure that our players all have the best possible base to take on their international counterparts.
They will also be rolling out their “noob” gamer training, Gamers In Beta (GIB). For those young whipper-snappers amongst you (I’m so old, Moses owes me 2 bucks), a “gib” is the old term used for a piece of digital meat that goes flying when your body explodes in games. Downright poetic, if you ask me. GIB’s will be taken through the basics such as in-game movement and accuracy, right up to class and weapon management, and eventually migrated to bigger and more competitive pools as their skills increase.
Though MWeb will eventually be branching out to other games and platforms, both these endeavours will initially only have a narrow focus – specifically Battlefield 3’s Rush and Conquest modes on PC.
As mentioned previously, MWeb have now ensured that any gaming traffic (PC) on their network is given the highest priority, and as a way of proving their product, all attendees at the event would be getting one month’s free Uncapped ADSL.
Finally we were introduced to Ashraf and Ryan, (more commonly known online as Zombie Hunter and SA Phoenix) the guys behind local digital fight club, Cape Town Showdown. (They obviously just broke the first 2 rules by showing up and talking about it).
These guys are dedicated to promoting the local fighting game community, and getting the best local players of most major titles competing against each other. At the moment, their events are being run almost exclusively on PS3, but they’re willing to take on all challengers irrespective of platform.
They demoed some videos of local and international competitions, surprising some in the audience with the popularity and scale of some of these events, as most major competitions normally consist of FPS and RTS only. Audience interest was immediately peaked, and judging by the amount of feedback they received, it’s only a matter of time before you hear big things from them.
So if you know your Hadoken from your Shoryuken, your Babality from your Fatality, your Dan from your… actually, there’s nobody else as lame as Dan. Point is, if (virtually) punching people in the spleen is what gets you excited, then keep an eye on these guys for their next event in January.
And just like that, all the talking was done and after attacking the provided pizzas like women at a shoe sale (trust me on this metaphor, I have witnessed the rabid horror first-hand), we got to wind down the evening by jamming some games on the provided consoles. Some guys got to try out the new Xbox wireless wheel on Forza 4, some were chainsawing glowy creatures in Gears of War 3, while others – like myself – got to beat each other up in the fighting game of their choice.
I ended up being violated by a waif of a girl, repeatedly. So, in hindsight, pretty much like any other Friday night in Cape Town after all!
The next 2upgamers event is scheduled for December 2nd, with Apex Interactive (distributors for titles such as Dead Island and Supremacy MMA) already confirmed as speakers. So be sure the follow @2upgamers on twitter, or check out their website for more info.
Last Updated: November 8, 2011