Esports has unofficially been a part of the Stellenbosch student community since 2017, but only became an official society of Stellenbosch University (SU) at the start of 2022. After a long wait and years of talk, the esports society has finally opened their very own gaming centre on the third floor of the Neelsie.
Getting their own gaming centre was an ongoing discussion within the esports society, but the demand increased as they aimed for more accessibility and to provide more access to members in the club. Realizing how large the platform really is for gaming set the talks of a gaming centre into action. Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people turned to gaming to stay connected with their friends and just to pass the time.
The gaming centre has “four Play Station 5’s and three Xbox consoles, but that’s just the start because [they] are aiming for world class,” said Mikael Pretorius, third-year BCom (Information Systems) student, and member of the Esports club.
There are multiple tournaments taking place every year, including res-leagues at the end of every month where the esports club competes against other universities, which the gaming centre will make a lot more convenient in the future. The streaming link will be available on the Maties esports social media.
The society encourages people to join regardless of their level or skill. If competitive gaming sounds intimidating, a large percentage of members also participate in recreational gaming. There is a tier system used which determines the benefits and privileges of each member, consisting of bronze, silver and gold. There is also training offered for people looking to learn how to play new games.
Anja Hartogh, first-year BEd (Intermediate Phase) student and one of the few female members, mentions how female members are used to gaming being male dominant and offers these words of encouragement:
“I see it as a safe space now, whenever I need to get out of my headspace, whenever I’m bored or when I’m thinking about things. To get my mind clear I will go play a video game… It’s some way to get out your anger or distract you. So, I’d say girls should really give it a try, because I never thought I would like it or would fall into the habit of playing every day, but now I game every day and it’s pretty fun,” says Hartogh, who is a gold tier member.