Alastair ‘Lag_Beast’ Bouman: The gamer known as “the one-man-army who is able to take on the best of teams with his immaculate skill and composure.” Daniela ‘Bubbles’ Rust: Co founder of the all female MGO, MixedChicks. Kevin ‘Kev’ Woodland: Known for the role he played in developing the COD4 competitive community by running tournaments, blogging and by his sheer epicness 😉 Russell ‘Russ’ Groves: Manager of the MGO, miNt gaming. Steven ‘Roskii’ Roberts: He played a major role in running the well known late MGO, Pantheon Gaming. He also jammed TF2 for Pantheon when the community was just developing. Luca “Robohobo” Tucconi: A legend in the COD4 competitive community. His experience as team captain, feared opponent and fiery italian passion makes him a sought after player in whichever community he plays.
Let’s talk competitive
Is gaming a sport?
Lag_Beast: “It’s not a sport in the traditional sense, ‘Sport – An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others’, the only thing seperating gaming and sport is the physical aspect. One could then argue gaming is an e-sport (electronic Sport).”
Bubbles: “This topic has been so widely debated and I still don’t think there is a definitive answer at this stage. Gaming is also still fairly new and is constantly changing. Some say it’s definitely not a sport, because it does not really require any or at least very little physical exertion. Others say it is a sport, maybe not in the conventional sense, but rather in the form of e-sports. Gaming might be an e-sport, but there is no universal definition that includes it as a sport in general. Personally I just refer to it as gaming.”
Kev: “Yeah it is, like most other sports, it has your core attributes: teamwork, skill, communication, strategy and counter-strategy.”
Russ: “Personally I think so. Do Gaming had a pretty interesting article not so long ago that debated whether or not gaming is a sport in SA, where the author (Wonderer) goes through various aspects of what makes a sport a sport, in meticulous detail and compared it to gaming in SA. Say what you will, I think gaming is and always will be a sport.”
Roskii: “Considering the natural evolution of sports, then I would say so yes. I think we should move away from trying to classify it as a sport and rather let it be known as its own unique entity. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, lets play by our rules, not those of others.”
RoBoHoBo: “If you look at sport as a game being played competitively then sure, but in regards to financial gain and the amount of exposure it gets then no.”
What sets a competitive gamer apart from a social gamer?
Lag_Beast: “Competitive gamers tend to have a lot more experience and skill in playing games on a competitive level. Competitive gamers also take what they do with a certain seriousness that social gamers lack.”
Bubbles: “I guess a social gamer plays games in his/her leisure time for fun as a way of social interaction with friends, whereas a competitive gamer takes it more seriously by taking part in leagues and tournaments and dedicating more time and effort to gaming and bettering himself/herself.”
Kev: “Wanting to win and be the best. Failure is not an option :p”
Russ: “Social gamers are happy to play useless games (read: WoW) with friends just to chat and goof around, whereas competitive gamers will play more serious games such as CS 1.6 or TF2. Putting in hours of practice and learning strats so they can win at the upcoming tournament. Being a competitive gamer takes so much dedication, but social gaming is whenever you can play, whatever you can.”
Roskii: “Competitive gamers set their sights on an end goal, trying to achieve something above others in that particular title. Social gamers on the other hand aim to just have the best experience, where having fun and building friendships is more than enough.”
RoBoHoBo: “A competitive gamer spends time actually trying to get better and become the best at whatever game he/she plays, they don’t play just to have fun, a lot of the time fun isn’t even in the equation anymore. You’re playing to win.”
What online game have you excelled in and played competitively, and why that specific game?
Lag_Beast: “Counter Strike Source and BF2142. Both the games are FPS and thats what I’m good at. I enjoy playing RTS games to a certain degree, but I know I’ll never be as good as the other gamers in that genre.”
Bubbles: “CoD4 has been the only game I have played competitively and still do. I was introduced to CoD4 in 2009 and have been taking part in the leagues ever since. The reason why I have stuck around for so long has a lot to do with it’s competitive nature and of course my team mates. I really enjoy taking part in the leagues. CoD4 was the first FPS I tried and the more I played, the more I enjoyed it and it grew on me. CoD4 does require certain skills but at the same time it is very ‘noob friendly’, which was perfect for me and besides, it’s the one game I don’t completely suck at! :P”
Kev: “Dota (for about 3 weeks) because Russ and I are an awesome lol-combo. COD4, which was probably my first competitive game. I got addicted and played it for many hours at a time. I took a few 2nd and 3rd placings as a former Pantheon player. Now I’m setting my sights on TF2…”
Russ: “Well, I’ve always said that I’m below-average skill when it comes to gaming and I only become somewhat decent when I put lots of time into a game, so because of this I don’t really compete as much as I’d like to. In the past I have captained a DotA team, CSS team and a CS 1.6 team. I normally just make a team to help new comers to get a foothold or just for lolz. There’s no particular reason why I’ve played the games I have, they just happen to be the games my other friends played.”
Roskii: “Back in the good old days (2002-2005), I was a huge Counter-Strike fan. I was lucky enough to be brought in by one of my great friends, Matt ‘dement1a’ Weaver, to Team Rival. It featured some of the best players we’ve seen in local Counterstrike such as Dundee, r4zor, deviant, and others. The main draw was the local scene where I could play against various other teams (Yes I was a huge Evolve fanboy) in a highly enthusiastic team. It was a great time and I’ve stayed friends with these lads to this day.”
RoBoHoBo: “I play Call of Duty 4 competitively, I have been doing so since mid 2008. I think CoD has excelled at making the game balanced in all aspects, the strategic aspect of playing with a 5 man team mixed with the extremely fast “quakey” feel makes the game so much more entertaining. I don’t think anyone who plays CoD at a high level would disagree with me saying that clutching in CoD gives one of the best rushes. The large following in South Africa gives testimony to how fun the game really is. The competitive scene here adds a huge factor of fun to it aswell.”
What are the building blocks for a healthy competitive community?
Lag_Beast: “People that are passionate about the game. People that are trustworthy and genuine. People that are willing to share their knowledge of the game with others and leaders who take the initiative to grow the community.”
Bubbles: “Most importantly I would say is mutual respect and support for one another, especially for those individuals who make the time and effort to try and lay a good foundation for the competitive gaming community. It’s also important to promote a respectful and sportsmanlike gaming environment and although there will always be some form of negativity, if people at least give some support and show interest, it will definitely be a start to building a healthy competitive community.”
Kev: “Community activists together forming 1 voice. A large player pool, active teams, legit players (no hackers etc), communication between players and no raging :p”
Russ: “Friendly, experienced leaders who don’t lose their tempers easily. If that is all we have then the noobs will do the rest.”
Roskii: “There’s one absolutely vital key to any competitive community, especially in South Africa, to survive. You need a continued commitment from the community. You can see this happening with tf2.co.za. It has enabled the vast number of ‘casual’ players to learn anything from basics to the ability to competitive pickups. Furthermore, local MGO’s have given the hardcore players a platform as well as a professional environment to hone their skills. We need to continue with these initiatives to ensure the success of our various communities. Doing something is better than nothing I say.”
RoBoHoBo: “It has to be active in terms of competitions and exposure. People need to be keen to compete, if there arent prizes from 1st to 3rd place dont cry about it, just by playing the game people will get better.”
There has been much controversy about the MSSA. If you were in a position of authority in the MSSA, how would you approach the SA gaming community?
Lag_Beast: “Firstly I would approach the gaming community on an eye to eye level without trying to forcefully make them do anything. I would then work hand in hand with the various community leaders and the people involved in those communities. People that have a firm grasp of what direction they need to be going in, in order to continue growing their community. I would approach the youth and get them involved, perhaps in a way expose them to the existing online community and give them people to look up to. I would also host competitions with a cheapish entrance fee to cater for the people that are not based in Gauteng. These are but a few basic things I would set in motion.”
Bubbles: ” No comment.”
Kev: “I prefer not to comment on anything relating to the MSSA, sorry.”
Russ: “From a gamers point of view it seems like they just wanna bully us and force us to do what they want and how they want it done. If I were in the MSSA I’d take suggestions from the community about certain things they wanna see get done and then I’d try my best to do it according to their standards. I think both the MSSA and the SA gaming community as a whole are not 100% right in how we believe things should be done to improve gaming in SA, but by coming together and finding a middle ground, we could set growth in motion.”
Roskii: “Oh how this has been debated… I would move away from trying to ‘control’ every entity within our community and move towards providing a sustainable platform that is open and free of restrictions. Such would be to provide a base on how to efficiently integrate the various components of the industry, ie the players, teams, event organisers, sponsors, publishers, pc versus console, etc etc, into a system that flows. I would also aim to provide investment to establish various events, and to promote gaming to the general public. These promises of funding from the Lotto and the money spent on sending players overseas is beyond me. We are a very unique community that is hindered by our global position (restrictive internet access/latency), so we need unique solutions, not ones that are copied from overseas entities.” (Roskii for gaming minister :D)
RoBoHoBo: “Well one thing really, like Do Gaming, I would do what the community as a whole wants to do, not what the people on the MSSA commitee think is right.”
These 6 gamers all agree that leadership, respect, support and passion for your game is the building blocks for a healthy competitive community. I would like to ask our readers then, why they think the TF2 community has always struggled to sustain a growing competitive base?