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Malume Playground – A Grassroots Gaming Savour in His Neighbouring Areas

The year has been nothing short of amazing thus far, whether it’s freedom of choice in ways new and existing gamers may get into the esports ecosystem or the wave of talented local FGC esports athletes that are standing toe to toe with international esports legends. Or even a school that awarded 3 students Africa’s first esports scholarship, more exciting events and initiatives are popping up almost every new month, but nothing quite like Malume Playground.

In as much as I’m part of developing gaming grassroots communities, amongst one of a few that I still highly suggest new players get into like UGCZA, another developing one that often popped up on my Twitter feeds was one that somewhat gets mentioned; however, one whose current owner goes out his way in showing huge support for the local eFIFA community and that’s Malume Playground.

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Based in Kariega Eastern Cape, Zukisa Festile’s story isn’t too different to any adult gamer getting into the gaming ecosystem from a consumer perspective, with his introduction dating as far back as 2015 in the era of the 8th generation of consoles that introduced studio AAA hits like Bloodborne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Fallout 4, and other titles. However, his entry point to gaming wasn’t with consoles of that period, it was through a PlayStation 2 that a friend owned and borrowed him from time to time with central titles being both PES 2014 & FIFA 14; games he could find his footing on.

Furthermore, his experiences wouldn’t end in solitude as relative gamers would outside of online multiplayer. Kids from his neighbourhood equally got first-hand gaming experiences thanks to endless visits to his place and a quick word-of-mouth that translated into a business opportunity when one of them asked a surprising question: How much would he charge for them to play?

For a local entrepreneur like himself with an existing small apparel brand, gaming would be the next venture for him to explore over the years. And as the journey got harder from there onwards, the realization that:

  • The console was inferior to what was available at that time. He needed to invest in getting consoles of his own.
  • With esports still in its infancy for our South African region, a new organisation with gamers residing in Soweto that competed in Counter-Strike Global Offensive named Ekasi Esports was an inspiration and a template that he wanted to replicate for himself.
  • The ecosystem housing tournament organizations such as Orena, Telkom Vs GamingMettlestate and top teams like Goliath GamingBravado Gaming, and Energy Esports amongst other teams of that period proved that there was more outside of just being a casual player.

Zukisa’s yearning to grow his gaming brand resulted in Malume Playground being a staple in his community. Fast forward a few years and a bank loan was taken to acquire all necessary gaming hardware, moreover, he had to build his shack which acted as his base of operations thanks to a growing base of casuals and new gamers coming in. Just a few months later in addition to the brand recognition rising through local and national media coverage, his business severely suffered from a burglary which forced the entire operations to change location which in turn crippled his existing client base of young gamers.

The man wasn’t deterred as he ploughed on and re-acquired more gear which served as a springboard for him to offer services to malls, schools and special functions. Despite it all, his love for esports lingered through having noticed a new brand named Malume Esports which he also owns, and by then I knew I had to reach him and impart my knowledge on how best to navigate the extremely competitive space within gaming.

An exciting June 16 gaming event of his for me to attend and profile him was picked, non-endemic sponsors partnered on the event via prizes and all was left was for the day to come, and man it sure did. I pulled a triple duty that day (Photography, Videography, Interviews for this story you reading here and assists during the event). It was interesting to find that both Durban and the Eastern Cape are untapped on both small and large-scale gaming conventions that the likes of the Cape Town community are getting via ATK ArenaComic Con Cape TownRedbull Hit The Streets and a few others.

The Gaming community from the Eastern Province, whilst small, still exist and like TechGirl paved the way in profiling me during my former tenure running an esports organization, I, in turn, shall try to pave the way in profiling the likes of Malume Playground and many more grassroots teams that will help grow our player + audience base in gaming and esports.

You can catch my interview with Malume Playground below:

Written by Smilo “Slim” Gosa

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