Pilot project not a game for City

2017-04-18 06:00

The City of Cape Town has hit “play” on a new electronic games (eGames) pilot project.

eGames is a generic term used for recreational gaming featuring a stand-alone video game, desktop computer or the internet.

Children between the ages of five and 19 can have a crack at a range of Xbox games at the Gugulethu sports complex, the Rebecca van Amsterdam centre in Atlantis, the Duinefontein Community Centre, and the Factreton Community Centre from 14:00 to 17:30 after school and from 10:00 to 16:00 during school holidays.

The games are facilitated by play leaders and volunteers at each facility, who are tasked with helping the children and ensuring that everyone has a turn. The most popular games are the racing and sports games, especially soccer.

“eGames are a new addition to our facilities and at the moment this is just a pilot project but is gaining momentum quickly. The programme is very successful and we are getting a lot of positive feedback from the participants. Their coordination and participation is remarkable and has indeed exceeded the centre’s expectations. We will look to expand it to other recreation hubs where the demand is high and the plan is to eventually incorporate this as a new code in the annual Cape Town Games,” says JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security, and social services.

The City’s recreation and parks department started the programme in partnership with the information systems and technology department.

Other partners have also come on board, including the rebuilding and life skills training centre, local neighbourhood watches, the department of cultural affairs and sport and Africa Unite.

“I strongly support the growth of new sports such as eGaming, as not everyone wants to be part of more traditional team sports like soccer or cricket. This kind of activity draws a new and different crowd of young people to recreation hubs. We want to provide activities that are attractive to teenagers in particular, as these programmes are an important deterrent from the antisocial behaviour often caused by boredom. Electronic games have shown to improve focus, attention, and reaction time. These games encourage quick thinking and social interaction when players are on a team. Some games encourage physical activity and we may even be developing a new generation of game inventors and creators,” explains Smith.

Smith visited the Gugulethu sports complex on Wednesday to see how the programme is run.

The complex has an average of 500 participants per week, with the majority of the children coming from Gugulethu and Manenberg.

Since January, the complex has also had facility protection officers on duty. They have played a crucial role in reducing theft and vandalism. It is important that the centre’s equipment is safeguarded to ensure that recreation programmes such as the eGames can continue.

“The City has great ambitions for eGames and we believe that this rising sport in geek culture empowers young minds with valuable computing, literacy, problem-solving and coordination skills. Around the world electronic sports are becoming well recognised and the City has formally adopted this as one of the sporting types we have to develop. I will continue to pursue my dream of seeing Cape Town host the national regional finals for online gaming in a signature Cape Town eSports tournament, culminating in the City bidding for and hosting the international Electronic Sports World Cup, so that many of the youths playing eSports at local recreation hubs can compete in such a championship and represent the country internationally,” says Smith.

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