In the second of our weekly Wednesday (and they can only stay weekly with your help) profiles of gamers other than clans, we get to know Ground Zero LAN based in Johannesburg.
Not to be confused with a clan going by the same name, this Ground Zero started life in June 2011 to cater for the always popular PC LAN. Based in the South of Johannesburg the team behind it all are passionate and determined to be “the biggest and most enjoyable gaming event first in Johannesburg and then South Africa” and grow beyond the confines of a traditional LAN setup. Currently PC focused, they are planning to incorporate consoles along with cosplay, anime and hobbies. Or as their portfolio says: “a mini rAge expo, each month or at least every three months.” Quite ambitious to a degree, but with the support of gamers, anything is possible.
We asked Andrew Lima of Ground Zero a few questions, and he was kind enough to answer them.
Let’s kick this off with a little history lesson – tell us a little about Ground Zero LAN.
Ground Zero LAN started off mid 2011 after many months of researching and planning. We hosted our first event at the Klipriviersberg Recreation center, Kibler Park. (South Of Johannesburg). This event seems to be the best suited in the area as our aim is to provide a service for this specific area in this point in time. Regarding the platforms our main priority since we opened up until now is PC, our main market will always be computer gaming. Slowly but surely we are integrating console lanning for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Who are the main braaaaaaiiiiiiiinnnnnssss behind Ground Zero LAN?
The main brains behind Ground Zero are myself (Andrew Lima), my brother (Travis Lima) and very good friend (Miguel Ermitao). There is no person who is more in authority here, as we all have an equal say, including other admins. We work as a team, no job too great or small for someone.
What did you hope to achieve when you first started?
Our goal then and our goal now is still the same, we are aiming to change lanning in South Africa, we aim to bring more than just sitting infront of a computer playing games versus your friend. We want to give back to the gaming community, help grow it and grow our event to one of the best in South Africa.
How many attendees were at your first event, and where did you hold it?
Our first event was held late June at Klipriviersberg recreation center, Kibler Park (Our current venue). I will never forget, we had close to 60 gamers booked. The venue staff said there is no way we will fit that many within this hall (the smaller one of many halls at the venue). After tripping the power a few times, we managed to get power from a neighbouring hall located in the Venue. I’m glad to say it was a huge success.
Have you seen a growth in subsequent events?
Concerning growth, we have had our up and down months as any company owner will know. You can’t always just grow each month after starting. We have been growing at a steady rate on our average attendants and are getting a minimum of 30 lanners each month and counting, which is a good sign, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from our gamers that have attended.
In an ideal situation, how big would you like your events to get and how do you think that can be achieved?
Money, money, money. To grow you need to spend a large sum of money. Our ideal situation, with keeping our LAN in the South of Johannesburg, will be at the same venue but in a bigger hall located there. The hall could seat around a maximum of 750 gamers on a guess at that. When you plan to grow you need to take into consideration power, which is the main concern at any gaming event. We are currently, saving up as much as we can to get better equipment and to be able to hold more computers per event. I would say we can take on a hundred gamers at each event, without restricting plugs and power, obviously if the guys don’t “overkill” the power by charging phones, heaters etc.
You currently have an event planned for almost every month (except September and November) for the remainder of the year and appears to be at a fixed venue – that’s a lot of work and planning. Aren’t you worried that it can all feel a little like a thankless task at times? Surely there’s a cost implication in hosting the events that leaves you at risk of not breaking even?
We are skipping September because of rAge, our event would fall under the same weekend of rAge, which would be a pointless gesture from our side. Also due to the fact we try to plan our events to fall on the last weekend of every month, we skipped November to do a November/December Christmas LAN. To run an event is not that easy, it takes a lot of time and effort to plan a LAN. There is a list of things to take into consideration food, prizes, tournaments, testing equipment and so forth. I will admit I have one of the best teams to work with for this event, we pull together as a team when need be. As I cannot discuss exact amounts regarding our costs, I can say is that we plan ahead to try and at least break even, as long as we are not losing any money, we will still be going. Luckily we have been making a profit from events, with bringing sponsors onboard it makes a huge difference and helps us save money where we can. We have meetings on a monthly basis to plan and strategise with our funds. Also we do temporary sales for computers and spares which helps to fund the LAN as well as the staff “chip in” money here and there.
What’s your game(s) and platform of choice?
This is a tough one, my two games of choice which stand out above the rest will be Dota 2 and Guildwars 2 since they are being released. Platform for me is Playstation 3, PC and Xbox 360.
Thanks for your time – is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to encourage the readers to send us suggestions they would like to see at the LAN, even if they are not from Jo’burg. Our best way to better the LAN and gaming in South Africa is your feedback, what do you want at a LAN? Pop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply pop us a post on Facebook.
If you are keen to feature in this column in the future, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com and we’ll think about – after you’ve sent us a sample of your braaaaaaiiiiinnnnsss.