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Zombie Dredd talks SA Gaming, eSports and MSSA

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Clint "Zombie Dredd" O' Shea is our local gaming hero. In gaming circles, few people are as widely loved and respected as Clint. We trust him; we value his input in eSports, and we enjoy his ventures with Zombiegamer. He is also one of the coolest cats on the block. Join us as we try to figure out what makes a Zombie tick by discussing some of the subjects closest to our hearts; Mind Sports South Africa, eSports and gaming in South Africa.

A quick introduction

"I’m not really a zombie. Or maybe I am, but I just like my human disguise a lot. And I’m old and grumpy. If I could play an instrument I would’ve been a musician rather than being part of gaming. I am a fan of metal (musical ‘taste’ not the material), tattoos, movies, long walks on the beach, collecting brains and crocheting. Only 50% of that last sentence may be true. I have a real job too that actually pays the bills – contrary to popular belief that I have ‘the best job in the world’ (gaming)."

Biggest fear? Other than being shot in the head or running out of brains, one of my biggest fears is losing my passion or letting people down.

What makes you happy? Keeping busy. If I’m not busy I get absolutely frustrated and bored. I suppose that makes that a fear too.

Why this love for gaming and gaming communities? I’m probably a lot older than most, so my love for gaming and the community is because when I was growing up these opportunities didn’t exist. I’m a middling sort of gamer when it comes to skill, but I can offer coverage of the local scene, as well as hosting events to help others get the opportunities now on offer.

Best game? Loving Titanfall still – probably because it’s one of the few games I’m also pretty OK at. And one of the games I never have to watch others play at tournaments.

Scariest game? Vampire Rain, it was scary because it was so AWFUL.

Favourite gaming person in SA?  LOL. I hate questions like this. Can I say anyone that’s made an effort to help grow gaming and eSports in SA? I do want to make a special mention of Dylan Rosser though, because ever since we started to work together, he has become a critical part of making events happen. There are so many people I respect, and I’d like to think they all know who they are.

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You’ve been closely involved with SA press and gamers. What’s your take on both?

We’re such a small community (compared to the rest of the ‘developed’ world) but sometimes it seems that the two just don’t interact and work together for the good and growth of the local scene. Unfortunately, there are a lot of egos and feelings get hurt too easily at times (I’m just as guilty of this as others) but in the end, the local gamers need to support local sites and local sites need to be more willing to cover the local gamer and events.

eSports in South Africa is an uphill battle. Why this interest from you?

No idea. It certainly isn’t for the money. LOL. When I became involved with Zombiegamer (the website) in 2009 we were just like most others – we’d cover the news that every other site worldwide already had. In around 2011 I started to meet more local industry sorts in the events and eSports side of things and started to cover the Cape Town happenings, especially the 2upGamers event.

I started to realise that no-one was really covering the ‘small’ events and the local gamers, clans and businesses and decided to start doing so as it was unique content. After a while I became part of the furniture at just about every Cape Town event and started to ‘carry boxes’ to help. That grew into hosting competitive LANs at 2upGamer events and then on to other venues and other events. It was an uncontrollable beast essentially and we’ve now probably hosted around two to three events or tournaments a month since we started to focus on it in around 2012.

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What is your dream for eSports South Africa?

My dream is to see South African players and teams become a major force internationally. And to host major tournaments that attract international players and teams.

What would you like to see happen with eSports SA?

The communities across all platforms and titles need to start supporting local events. Even if you’re not playing, get to the venue, watch the streams, talk about the event and just get people excited by the idea of playing, watching and competing. The console community needs a little more work in this regard than the PC community, but there’s no harm in both growing still.

What are the stumbling blocks for eSports in South Africa?

The lack of sponsors. I’m fully aware of return on investment requirements but it’s a real catch 22 trying to attract players (and spectators) without prizes. The majority of smaller tournament organisers rely on entry fees to generate prize pools which means they can’t guarantee the prize pool, which then affects the turn out. Admittedly, sometimes the key for players should not be the prizes but supporting the tournament. Again, it all comes down to support. Community support will get the attention of the sponsors.

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Why align yourself with the MSSA?

I have – whether many know it or not – always assisted any other organisation that requests help, be it with equipment or brains, and while I don’t completely see eye to eye with the MSSA, my decision to affiliate a club with the MSSA and accept the Cape Town Regional Director post was for my school’s program first and foremost.

In 2014 I ran a proof of concept where I went to schools in Cape Town (and spoke to many others) to host FIFA tournaments. What I discovered was that the majority of pupils were not aware of competitive tournaments happening around the country and even less were aware of the possibility of being awarded colours for it. On top of that, the majority indicated (I ran a survey at each school) that they would prefer colours over prizes.

This stat is a little different when gamers leave school and tertiary educational institutes. This along with the obvious scenario that schools are the breeding ground for our future stars prompted my MSSA decision. Hopefully with the affiliation I will have better access to the schools (it’s not easy to convince schools to allow a random zombie in without questions being raised) and be able to find SA’s eSports stars of the future.

I’ve already started to see some of the pupils from the schools I visited participate (and perform admirably) at some of our other events. Currently, I have a proposal being mulled over that plans to expand on my 2014 school activities and I will be running regional tournaments for a variety of titles this year. I’m also very keen to work on development programs and if that means talking to the local authorities to assist then being part of a government affiliated organisation will make that easier.

Ultimately, this is not about me, it’s about what tools I have available to grow the eSports (and gaming in general) community in South Africa. I do need to point out that not all the events I run under the Zombiegamer banner will be MSSA affiliated. We will be keeping a clear differentiation between the event types.

A few words of wisdom from SA’s favourite gaming Zombie would be?

If I haven’t said it already… support local.

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Zombie Dredd: Twitter / Zombiegamer: Twitter | Website | Facebook

A special thank you to Clint from the MWEB GameZone team for your beautiful heart, awesome attitude and wicked sense of humour. You are an invaluable asset to the SA gaming community. May you make unexpected waves at Mind Sports South Africa, my change for the good of eSports be your trademark and may you inspire many to action.

Do it for the children.

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Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook

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