‘We train three times a week, often for hours on end. It’s very similar to playing football or rugby, the same level of dedication exists, it’s just for those who don’t want to play a physical sport but prefer a mental one.’ Chris Noble (Evax) | Pantheon
Online gaming and LAN (Local Area Network) parties have risen in popularity in the past few years. The biggest, Dream Hack held twice annually in Sweden, set a new world record in December 2007 for the worlds largest LAN party: a staggering 10,554 computers under a single roof.
To the uninitiated, a LAN party is a gathering of computer enthusiasts and gamers who get together and play games against each other. In this modern age of always-on connectivity and online presence, many at the Durban FRAG party commented that it was good to get together, be social and play games against each other. Often many arrive solely for the social aspects of being around likeminded people.
Held every month, the Durban FRAG admins weekend begins early friday morning. The task of setting out hundreds of tables and chairs to accommodate the gamers takes around two hours, and then the task of ensuring the 400KW power requirement is met. Get this important step wrong and you’ll blow the electricity board in an instant. The gamers arrive around noon on the friday, bringing with them a whole host of equipment often more associated with large rock concerts and outdoor performances. Large PC cases, widescreen monitors, keyboards and all the necessities for a weekend of gaming. Make no mistake, there is no going home to sleep or refresh, gamers often sleep beneath their computers once the effects of the caffeine drinks have worn off.
A wide variety of games are played by the gamers but a few firm favourites seem to be the choice de jour for aspiring combat veterans: Call of Duty, a first person shooter game and Dota, a custom scenario for the popular World of Warcraft games. In addition, the console games like Guitar Hero prove popular amongst inspiring muso’s.
The prestigious World Cyber Games held this year in the US, will see gamers from around the world battling it out to be crowned the top gamer. This competition has a large prize fund and many gamers earn a salary from playing games, taking it from a hobby to a full-time career.
Gaming in South Africa is still in its infancy. There are large LAN parties held every month around the country, but it’s nowhere near the level seen overseas. Another issue facing gamers on these shores is that eSport isn’t seen as a proper sport yet, but there are plans to change that in the near future and rightly so.
In the minds of sports mad South Africans, a sport is something that is physical and whilst wielding a Guitar Hero guitar might be athletic to the gamers, to others it’s seem as a hobby.
Electronic games and other forms of online role-playing games is a big industry. Last year alone in the US, it accounted for 3.8 Billion dollars worth of revenue with an astounding 46 million gamers in the US alone. With the World Cup being held later on this year in South Africa, it’s important to look at future sports that don’t necessarily involve copious amounts of physical activity.