A Soldier… a Scout… a Heavy… a Sniper… A Demoman and a Medic… The power of these players becomes a league of extraordinary gamers. A number of leading players from other games have finally seen the light and switched to the best first person shooter — TF2 — since id Software popularised first person shooters.
Join me, Lola, as I interview Alastair “Lag_Beast” Bouman: Really well known across the gaming community and played his first game when he was 10; Daniela ‘Bubbles’ Rust: Co-owner of the biggest all female MGO, MixedChicks in SA; Kevin “Kev” Woodland: Renowed game blogger and known for his work in developing the COD4 community; Russell “Russ” Groves: Manager of the MGO miNt Gaming, currently the longest running MGO in SA; Steven ‘Roskii’ Roberts: One of the founders of the late MGO Pantheon and Luca “Robohobo” Tucconi: A legend in COD4 and who has played for the MGO’s Ventus and now Bravado.
First, the introductions.
Lag_Beast on Bubbles: “Lets just say her skill is on par with her looks. A fantastic person to be around with and exceptionally good at CoD4. Not much is known of her origin. Some say she was fostered by a pack of wild bears, others say she fell out of a plane as a baby and glided down to earth with nothing more than her nappy and the will to live. She stepped into the gaming scene as an unknown player and steadily made herself known in various communities as “Bubbles” the barbarian. Ok I lie it wasn’t the barbarian, but she was definately one of the main contributers to the success of MixedChicks. She is co-founder and a hard working person, she helped raise mC’s name above the smut and filth that only exists in a mans world of gaming. She now roams the public TF2 servers completely destroying people with her over-sized apache minigun of destruction yelling, “NOOBS”, as she blasts her way through hordes of opposing players leaving a trail of lifeless corpses. All Hail BUBS!”
Roskii on Lag_Beast: “Alistair ‘Lag_Beast’ Bouman, oh what a beautiful creature and divinely soul.. After meeting ‘Ali’ during the golden days of Counter-Strike: Source, he became someone whom I could dearly trust. As I was running Pantheon, he was one of my go-to-guys, from how our teams performed to how we could better satisfy our sponsors, he was always there to provide his support. These days Ali is heading up 2ply Gaming with ‘mooncow’, and has some pretty ambitious plans. I am 100% behind him in his efforts, as Ali is one of those guys that is dying to see progress in our gaming community, and he is actually doing something about it. I’d de-tong him anyday ;D”
Kev on Russ: “I met Russ one day in quite an unusual way – by raiding his private IRC channel for the lulz (this was back when he was still known as Blade). Ever since then we have been bromancing in many games. Starting off with Dota, COD4, then hitting up some CSS a year back and now jamming TF2. Russ is a great guy to jam any game with, sharing his insight and knowledge. Even if he isn’t the best, he is always willing to give his opinion and help you out. He always finds a way to be somewhat of a good asset to the communities he takes a liking to – assisting new players, etc etc. Nothing beats having an epic game of TF2 Bball and mumble times with Russ.”
Russ on Kev: “I’ve had an online relationship with Kev for about 2 to 3 years now. He randomly joined my private IRC channel and liked the vibe, so he decided to stay and he was definately welcome. We used to play DotA together quite a bit and we even made a team together and frequently pub bashed. From there I moved to CoD4 which is Kev’s personal play ground and he showed me the ropes. I convinced Kev to play some CSS with me and to my amazement only a day or two into the game he was already better than me. Sadly he didn’t stick around for much longer because he was quite into his CoD4. Ever since then we haven’t jammed much together untill recently when he started playing TF2 when it became free. Once again Kev is doing a lot better than I did with only 2 weeks practice and so I see great things in store for him. Whether I want to just chat on IRC about random drama going on in other channels or try smash him at some Bball on the MGE server, Kev is always keen.”
Lag_Beast on Roskii: “Roskii, well what more can I say other than that he is a gentlemen, scholar and oracle of complete win. Being one of the most successful MGO creators (Pantheon Gaming) he really has done so much for the online community. He also puts his time into giving advice and helping people make a success out of their ventures online. However, don’t count him out of the gaming scene, this guys has some crazy skills in almost every game he plays and he’s definately the person to rely on when having him on your side.”
Kev on Robohobo: “Luca, what a man. Current Bravado COD4 player, with the ability to adapt extremely well ingame given any class. With this being said, I’m more than confident that he will be able to do the same in TF2 (or can already – I really wouldn’t be suprised). Whilst well talented in gaming, Luca also lives a typical student life with fat social missions when ever possibru. Luca is, in 2 words, a beast.”
Let’s talk gaming
Endless hours in front of a pc screen, all the frustrations and the emo. Why do we game?
Lag_Beast: “Well, I can’t speak for everyone here, but I game because it’s fun, entertaining and mentally stimulating.”
Bubbles: “For me it is mainly about the social aspect of interacting and having fun with friends. It also allows me to escape some of my daily routines such as work. In a way it even helps relieve a little stress, especially when you get to dominate your opponent. Gaming does get frustrating at times though, I have had my little ’emo’ moments, but it is still very entertaining and a great way to spend time with friends from the comfort of your home.”
Kev: “We game because it’s fun, it’s quick, it’s easy and it’s at our fingertips.”
Russ: “I’m sure we can all agree (even the women) that nerd babes are the hottest and ofc no nerd babe wants to date a weakling.”
Roskii: “There are 2 major reasons in my opinion. Firstly, gaming allows us to immerse ourselves in fantasy worlds where virtually anything is possible, and secondly, for most of us, gaming gives us access to a competitive environment. I have been playing hockey since I was 3, and now that I’m all grown up and playing for a club, it’s 2 practises and 1 match a week. In gaming, any time of the evening, and sometimes during the day, you can compete against someone in some game. That endless opportunity is what draws us back each and every time.”
RoBoHoBo: “I’m sure the answer will differ from person to person, but for me I would say that I game to play my favourite game, in a team with some of my best mates from the comfort of my own home.”
There has been some debate over; gaming being addictive, leading to the breaking up of a healthy social life and gamers being looked down upon as immature nerds. What is your pov regarding these?
Lag_Beast: “Well certain views of society are not completely unjustified. It’s all about moderation, nothing in life can be done without moderation. If you spend every waking hour of the day playing pc then yes, your social skills in a physical situation / conversation is going to be severely lacking. There needs to be a healthy balance between playing pc games and interacting socially with people face to face.”
Bubbles: “I think it’s a very outdated and narrow-minded perspective. Gaming can be a very social activity. Certain games do have a bad reputation for being addictive and affecting the healthy social life of gamers, but I feel such addiction is the fault of the gamer. We are not a bunch of ‘immature nerds’ that are completely isolated from the rest of the world. Yes, we love gaming and sometimes a big part of our life revolves around it, but just because you enjoy playing WoW for instance, does not automatically make you an “anti-social freak”. I think there is constant interaction in the gaming community, be it social or competitive. Besides, what is so wrong with being a nerd anyways? Yes, we might be intelligent and show a lot of interest in gaming but as far as the ‘non-social, outcast, shy and unattractive part’ that’s just stereotyping.”
Kev: “It is up to the gamer to decide what is more important, whether or not he or she wants to WoW raid or go have a beer with some mates. It’s all personal perspective in my opinion. As for immature nerds, that’s just a lol. Some of the smartest and most physically built people I know are gamers.”
Russ: “Gaming is most definately addictive, but I don’t think it leads to an unhealthy social life, I think it may even improve it. I have read articles about how RPG gamers are more likely to make friends with strangers than the average non-gamer joe. Of course everything needs to be within boundaries. Playing TF2 for 20 hours a day with 4 hours sleep will take it’s toll on you and it will have negative effects between yourself and your family or friends. There are no immature nerds, only immature people who happen to be nerds. :D”
Roskii: “It’s definitely something that continues to plague us nerds, but not to the extent of what it used to be. Gaming globally is now larger than both the movie and music industries. We are quickly becoming the forefront of the entertainment industry. If you just look at Starcraft, it already took that step over 10 years ago in South Korea. Now Starcraft II is reaching out to an even larger global market, and the ‘nerds’ that are competing at the highest level will soon become celebrities in their own right. I might be far off on this one but technology is rapidly changing the world around us. Baneling burgers from McD’s anyone?”
RoBoHoBo: “I think popular culture has created quite a stereotype about gamers, the people that I play with are generally the complete opposite. They have healthy social lives and are all doing some form of tertiary degree. In terms of it being addictive I would have to disagree, habitual maybe.”
Turning it around. From your pov, how can gaming have a positive influence on society?
Lag_Beast: “Gaming has many positives, if people are exposed to a nurturing community, they grow as people, often the younger people look up to the older people in the communities. Gaming also educates people, educating them whether it be academically or sociologically.”
Bubbles: “I think gaming helps with visual attention and concentration, which are very important skills especially for children. If gaming can help strengthen these skills and improve positive behaviour, then it definitely influences society positively. Educational games can also aid in the learning process, as people generally learn and understand things much better when they are actually enjoying it.”
Kev: “I really have no clue.”
Russ: “Gaming, on a day-to-day basis requires you to come into contact with many ‘not so intelligent people’. You can either be a douche to them or you can learn how to be nice and properly negotiate the situation. I think for a lot of us we choose the latter and as a result we have become better people from it.”
Roskii: “Previously gaming was restricted to only a select few becasue of its high costs, but with the explosion of mobile gaming and higher penetration of broadband, this is changing. It is allowing individuals from all walks of life to come together, socialise and even compete in an exciting new industry. Just like sports such as soccer and rugby have brought together different cultures, gaming is doing just that but at a much faster pace.”
RoBoHoBo: “You gain a fair amount of knowledge regarding pc’s, which is very beneficial for a person and the people who that person deals with, I wouldnt be surprised if an average gamer knew more about pc’s than some people who study them for a living. Spending time playing online games means you will spend alot of time surfing the web, which opens you up to alot of information regarding what’s happening in the world. The information that someone can attain on the web makes watching the news seem absolutely pointless, learning and improving on the mistakes people tend make in society.”
Can gaming assist the mind in improving its function?
Lag_Beast: “Well its definately helped my reflex’s and I guess to a certain degree my hand eye co-ordination. I’ve also gained a fair amount of general knowledge from playing different games and learning from the content inside them.”
Bubbles: “I am no expert, but I am quite sure it enhances visual attention, hand-eye coordination and concentration. Quite a few games are very stimulating and thought provoking, for example where it is required of the player to solve problems and think a little further than just destroying everything infront of you. Other games again require quick reactions and immediate decision making, which can definitely assist the mind and improve such skills.”
Kev: Well it depends on what game you are playing I would think. Where a strategy game can somewhat improve your logical mindset, a MMORPG can turn you into a vegetable 😀 While some people think that FPS inceases your reflexes, I beg to differ. Think about it, a little visual stimulous from the screen makes you do a little movement with your finger. It’s hardly a beneficial reflex in my opinion.”
Russ: “Gaming keeps your mind on its metaphorical toes. If your brain is a muscle then gaming is taking it to the gym. Ever heard of a stupid Counter-Strike Scource playe- oh wait, bad example. :/”
Roskii: “I’m no scientist but there have been studies showing that complex tasks presented in certain games can be beneficial in the real world. We have seen how the Nintendo Wii has been used to encourage healthy living, so I’m sure more games based around the mind will be released soon.”
RoBoHoBo: “Well in terms of language you spend a lot of time reading and typing. People get scrutinized alot for bad language, so you tend to improve it for self preservation :p. When playing team games you learn alot in regards to communication and problem solving. There are alot of things you face in a team, let it be personal issues or ingame ones. You get passed them working together and adapting to win.”
Has gaming added to the quality of your life?
Lag_Beast: “Yes, its allowed me to make so many incredible friends. I have a job in IT and everything I learnt while gaming in some way has helped me to get where I am now in my job.”
Bubbles: “In terms of the friends I have made, yes definitely. I have met some amazing people through gaming. Some of my closest friends are gamers whom I would never have known if it had not been for gaming. So it has definitely enriched my life in that sense.”
Kev: “No. It hasn’t.”
Russ: “Most definately. I’ve met some wonderful people through gaming both IRL and online whom I wouldn’t have known even existed if not for gaming. <3 Lola”
Roskii: “Gaming has allowed me to form some great friendships that I otherwise wouldn’t have ever gotten the chance to do. Also, Pantheon’s run in the local competitive community really taught me a lot of skills that I can now utilize in the business world. Both of these I hold close to my heart!”
RoBoHoBo: “I feel it has yes, I’ve made some of my most valuable friends from gaming and I’ve learnt alot about personal sacrifice for the betterment of the team.”
In conclusion, Part 1
Gone are the days where gamers are viewed as nerds, or people that have nothing better to do with their time. Research is showing that gaming improves the brain, the gaming industry pours millions into the economy, a whole social network of like minded people has emerged, where people share their interests, skills and last but not least, friendships. All of which add to the value of our lives.
Join me soon for part 2 (competitive gaming) & part 3 (let’s talk TF2), where we further explore the minds of these 6 extraordinary gamers.