Profiled: Jeeva/Gamernet

This week we get the low-down on Jeeva (a name we assume his friends call him – his real name is Jeremi-Ernst Avenant).  He is a man who appears to be busy with more things than r0gue Zombie has fingers to count on.  Having been in the PC LAN scene for a number of years, one of his big projects is Gamernet House – a labour of love in many ways which aims to offer a permanent and intimate LAN space in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs.  That’s not all, but we’ll let him tell you all about it…

You’ve been in the PC gaming scene for quite a while – can you us give a brief history?

A Long time ago… I received my first computer at the age 6 in 1990, a 286, 1 MB Video, 1 MB Ram, 40 MB HDD, MS-DOS, SVGA monitor (which was quite hardcore for those days). Still don’t know why my parents bought a PC, since they still don’t know how to use it. Prior to that I would go play on my cousins’ ancient old computer which still had Hercules & EGA graphics or at my friend whom had a Commodore 64.

The first multiplayer games we played were DOOM, Micro Machines & especially Heretic in 1993/4 over serial cable, making use of Laplink. After that we started with co-axle network links in 1995 and played games such as The Need For Speed: Road & Track (aka NFS 1), GTA 1, Command & Conquer 1, and by playing I mean, we played it 48 hours straight almost every weekend. Or we would mess around on old BBS systems making long distance calls without paying; my friend was an IT genius whom started to program at the age of 3.

Got connected to the internet in 1996, multiplayer notepad, aka Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was the new order of the game.

Really got into the swing of online gaming 1998 with Action Quake 2 and went full time online gaming in 1999 with Half-Life:Counter-Strike.

You are currently busy with Gamernet (LAN) House.  What exactly is that about?

I used to run the social Counter-Strike tournaments at OC back in 2003 which at the time and still today is a LAN more focused on general play & filesharing. One night, we had all the Counter-Strike players outside the hall in preparation for the next “tournament” and one of the team captains said out loud; “Jeeva why don’t you start your own LAN, which only ran tournaments”.  Pretty much most of the crowd enforced it and it got me thinking.

In 2004 GamerNET LAN was born (with a “lifetime ban from OC”) and with the first LAN, I had over 300 gamers with a continuous connectivity of 250 players at the same time.  This immediately sky rocketed me into first place with the biggest monthly LAN in South Africa. The nice thing about the LAN was, it was all tournament focused. Strict starting round times, enforced rule sets and awesome admins. Now this was competitive gaming.

More than a year later, about half of the equipment was stolen out of my dad’s workshop. This was no small setup, I had a mobile power grid over 3 distribution boards which was able to power 400 computers at one time. The LAN scene was also changing with less people attending due to ADSL being rolled out. All of these aspects caused massive frustration but the frustration I experienced as a player at WCG 2005 CPT Qualifier just topped it off and I decided to stop all aspects of gaming. The SA PC scene was ungrateful, negative and full of backstabbers.

Gaming House: The problem I have with LAN’s are, if it goes to big it loses the social intimacy. You will see friends go as a group, play as a group that’s about it. The rest of the people you meet stay acquaintances but nothing really more. With smaller LANs, it is more intimate, the home/”basement” feeling. OBC|SpamTheMan used to run the Fishhoek LAN with a pax of 80-100 players. At that LAN you can easily name 50 players that used to be there, people made friends for life. That’s how I feel a LAN should be like, yet still maintain the professional & competitive aspect.

When I made my return to the PC scene in 2010 with Ventus Gaming, I still saw that there is a massive gap in the market with regarding to competitive+social gaming. While in Europe and other countries gaming houses were popping up all over. Obviously you have to remember that European gamer market is a million times bigger than SA, with 1 in 3 people in Europe being gamers.

I started renovating the house in the end of 2011, which was a massive task since the house is quite old and didn’t receive any tender loving care for being vacant for almost 2 years. It still requires a lot of work but the main focus, power, tables & networking has been sorted out. My budget is extremely limited so the house is more of a long term project to get everything kitted out.

The gaming house main purpose is to establish itself as a place where gamers can expect the highest quality of competitive gameplay in the sense of, available internet, mature admins, seating, spectating zone, enforced rule sets, while maintaining the vibe of a “home LAN”. Like for example, hosting a Starcraft 2 tournament, that is shout casted & streamed to the internet but between rounds players can go stand outside and have braai and socialise.

The gaming house is also available to other organisation & companies if they were to host an event here, or even collaborate on events.

Stats:

  • 4 x 25 AMP dedicated breakers for computerised devices with surge protector.
  • Around 16x Duo industrial steel plugs.
  • 40 fixed network points + expandable via adding more switches.
  • 26 permanent seats, expandable to 40 with fold up tables and chairs.
  • 16 Port Gigabit Switch with 4 x 24 Port 10/100 switches with gigabit uplinks.
  • 12 Mbps Internet for gaming traffic & 6 Mbps for non-prioritised traffic.

You are also involved with Razer South Africa?  What are the details of that and can people get their products from your shop?

All viewpoints are that of my own and have nothing to do with Razer”

I’m currently consulting for Razer International and not involved with any of the e-commerce or business side of things. Personally, I operate an online shop called http://razeronline.co.za where people can buy merchandise.

From what I understand is, is that Razer is testing the feasibility of the South African gaming scene (PC, console, etc) to expand/support this region more.  However they are measuring it by the facebook page http://facebook.com/RazerSouthAfrica in hoping to achieve 10 000 likes in 80 days from now. To support this drive they gave me +/- 25 products to give away as prizes. I’ve already given away 1x Razer Lachesis mouse with more to follow.

The thing that really frustrates me about this whole thing is, and this is strictly my personal opinion. SA gamers always complain that they hardly get anything in regard to sponsorship, prizes or anything in general from big international manufacturers or organisers and “everything always happens in US, EU, ASIA, but not Africa”.

Now here you get a premium peripheral manufacturer, Razer (not just limited to Razer), which comes to South Africa and asks players to support their Facebook page, which will benefit the GAMERS way more but the gamers are incredible reluctant to like or share it. Other gaming sites which prides themselves in being “gamers” deletes all the posts regarding this drive which confirms even more that they don’t really care about SA gaming & just their own page hits.

In the end these gamers cannot understand why when rAge Expo creeps closer and they email all the suppliers that they don’t get anything sponsored.

I therefore really urge all gamers to support all localised Facebook, twitter, etc, company mediums. If it’s Razer South Africa, Asus South Africa, Dell South Africa or anything South Africa. Please support it!

Anything else you have going on?

After I feel that the Gaming House (and the Shop (http://ultigence.com) in the back of the house) is completed, I’m going to launch an e-sport blog detailing the finer aspects of gaming on the technical side. E.g. how to setup dedicated servers for games, best configs, router setup & network technologies, etc. The site for that will be http://jeeva.net.

Gaming – at least at the community level of LANs and similar – is not the most profitable business around.  What keeps you going in the industry?

There is no money to make unless you go really big like OC, which I don’t want to do again. You need a primary income, such as a day job or business, while the gaming side is purely a hobby which provides a small secondary income… if you’re lucky. Mostly, it is more an expense than anything else but all in the passion for the play.

To give you an indication, with my 2004 LAN, I charged R50-80 per head. Now let’s work with hypothetical averages. With a 75% attendance you would have 200 people @ R 70 = R14 250. Sounds nice doesn’t it but then comes your expenses, R 3000 venue with 3 phase power, R 1000 chairs, R 1000 tables, R 5000 prize money, R1000 admins, thus in the end you’re left with R3 250 and now you still have to pay off your R15 000 switches and cables & R40 000 power equipment. Always fun to host one but not fun to check your financial balance.

Any thoughts on how we can make the gaming scene grow to match international levels of support?  Sponsorship?  Even more community based events?

WACS cable is rolling out, meaning less latency on the international routes. I’ve heard a rumour that we can expect 80-90ms on the UK / FR side of things, which will be awesome for gamers.

Sponsorship: Wash the back that washes yours. Support all localised product drives from international manufacturers & development houses.

Community events are all nice & well BUT it doesn’t help if it’s only the same people every time. We need the same people telling new people to come to recurring events. I absolutely love what 2UpGamers is doing but I’ve been out of the scene for almost 6 years and still know about 50% of the people I saw there. We need more committed new faces.

Favourite LAN you’ve organised?

My first LAN, GamerNET 2004.1.

Favourite LAN you’ve attended?

Dustbowl LAN, hosted by Emporerwolf in his old hotel over easter weekend every year. I provided the network & dedicated servers. 250 seats crammed in all over the hotel, even the bar and reception area. People will camp out on the grass at the back or if you were lucky and booked way in advanced you could sleep in the hotel, which was very old and spooky. The LAN was normally sold out 3 months in advanced. He sold the hotel quite a few years ago and thus Dustbowl LAN is no more. Funny thing is, he’s now my brother-in-law and my go to guy when I want business advance. Fishhoek LAN by OBC|SpamTheMan was also great.

What’s your game(s) and platform of choice?

I’ve never owned a console so my reference framework is limited to PC, however I used to have a lot of fun playing on my friends SEGA Genesis, especially Golden Axe 2 & 3. I’m not that heavy into playing games, I like the managing & logistics behind hosting gaming related events more but I enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 PC (versus mode) a lot with the local L4D2 scene. Anything zombie related is always a winner.

Thanks for your time – is there anything else you would like to add?

To all the gamers out there stop being lazy and expect everything to fall into your lap. A lot of people are putting in a crazy amount of hours not because they have to but because of their love for the game. Have a positive attitude; support them; work with them; promote them; talk to them and praise them.

Jeeva’s various activities can be monitored via his websites: http://ultigence.com (also a hub to all my other sites) / http://gamernet.tv / http://jeeva.net or found on Facebook: http://facebook.com/UltigenceICT / http://facebook.com/gamernet.tv / http://facebook.com/jeevadotnet or even on Twitter: @ultigence / @GamerNETtv / @jeevadotnet.

And if that’s not enough, you can email him: jeremi@ultigence.com or simply phone him at 021 200 1810 (Business Hours).

If you are keen to feature in this column in the future, please feel free to contact us at info@zombiegamer.co.za and we’ll think about – after you’ve sent us a sample of your braaaaaaiiiiinnnnsss.

About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.