There is a problem in South Africa. It’s the regular rise and quick death of small events and organisations that focus on gaming – both casually and competitively. For every organisation that starts (sometimes with admittedly overly optimistic aspirations) or announces a new event, it seems two others quietly disappear from activity.
For many this is simply down to an apparent apathy from the community – or expectations that are simply impossible to meet. South African players and gamers in general wish for the ESL One, MLG, The Invitational and countless other high profile international events to have an equivalent locally, and while DGL and MWEB offer increasingly larger prize pools and constantly improving tournaments that are the closest to achieving that, it’s the smaller organisations which suffer every year.
The most maddening example of this is the Orena Life Child Invitational. In an effort to combat the costs of operating the event from a limited personal wallet, the organisers took an approach that has worked internationally – selling items to crowdfund the event. The sale of (very reasonably priced) t-shirts and spectator tickets was the basis for the prize pool for the Dota 2 and CS: GO portion of the event. This obviously didn’t cover the costs of venue hire and all the other associated overheads that need to be paid. We were part of the event by assisting with the FIFA tournament, which had a paltry nine entries at the time of the event being cancelled. Of course, the flipside of that is that another FIFA event we hosted had over 80 entries, so it’s not that the community is not interested. Start times – and the actual time of the year – may just have impacted the attendance more than anyone may have realised, but it still doesn’t excuse the lack of support at a spectator level and on the ‘crowdfunded’ portion of the event.
Of course you may ask what you get in return for a R50 spectator ticket to an event like this, or what R150 gets you with the crowdfunding. The R150 would bag you a t-shirt, which these days is a bit of a bargain for a unique event item. The R50 gets you a days exciting eSports viewing in a live environment – an experience which is as thrilling as any other live sports. Internationally, spectators pay plenty more for the same experience, and while many will start with their “better quality teams/venue/etc” argument, we don’t agree at all. The free ride can only go so far before it crushes the organisations operating things.
Last year (albeit it for different reasons) also saw the Ivents_ZA event that was planned for Gauteng pulled, followed by the seeming demise of another promising addition to the local eSports scene.
While both Orena and Ivents_ZA are slightly more high profile organisations, there has also been the slowdown in activity of a number of organisations that kicked the year off with a bang, only for everything to go slightly (un)dead on all their social media platforms. Durban’s Inzane Gaming (FIFA tournaments), Gauteng’s Good Game Cafe, Cape Town’s PS Gaming Lounge, Plaasteater LAN and a number of others seem to have taken time away from what is a tough ‘industry’ to stay in. Ground Zero LAN is also taking 2015 off, mainly to find a new venue, but one has to suspect it’s just as much a good time to reassess things too. Even South Africa’s most active Hearthstone tournament organisers, HearthBattles, shut down for a while, but are now back – whether it is permanent or not is highly debatable.
If you happen to ask who the organisations mentioned are, then it is just the main point I am trying to make. If people (the community, gamers, players, spectators and supporters) aren’t making an effort to follow and support the organisations and events, ultimately, they won’t be able to sustain activities and closure is inevitable. Sure, there are some events and organisations that bring that upon themselves due to poor event planning or bad management, but believe me, we zombies are more than aware that sometimes, good intentions and even great planning mean nothing without support…
Undead Observations is the meanderings and mutterings of grumpy old zombies as they not-so-quietly observe the South African (and even the international) gaming scene.