Ever since their invention, video games have had a huge stigma attached to them. That they are a major distraction to the youth, they play a major role in poor academic performances and are associated with the violence being portrayed amongst our youth. But Donnelly ‘Don’ John, Co-Director of Blue Reef Real Estate, is here to prove that positive can come out of video gaming and that it can actually bring unite people for a common good.
“From a very early age I have been involved with youth work on the Development Committee in my community which is the Ti Colon/Barre Sen Joseph area. This was one of the things that my mom instilled into me when she was the president of the same committee. Over the years I served as Secretary and then Vice President.”
“One of my passions growing up was video games and computer gaming, and I was one of the first persons to build my own computer and have games on there. And through linkages at school, I started interacting with other people plus my friends and we visited the arcades together. Everybody thought “the arcades aren’t the place you want to go to”, but it actually built our curiosity for technology.
“Kaywan Lord (another co-founder) and I formed a group and started a website softscrew.com with our main circle of friends which still exists: it started as a birthday party for one of my best friends who’s also a co-host of my television show Gamer Vibe on Choice TV and a director of our group. We got together at his place, playing games and had food and stuff, and we thought, interesting, why don’t we do this on a larger scale? And since we were all enthusiasts of building our own computers, we’d set up dates and meet up at each other’s home, have parties and play video games. We’d even invite our girlfriends over and get them into the mix, and the idea just kept growing and growing and over the years we changed the venue from a living room to a hotel conference room.”
“The first event we had outside of home was at Caribbean Jewel. We’ve had a growing number of persons interested and we did it at Glencastle (now Ocean View) which was the biggest ever – we had 16 people transporting their PCs and laptops. Some people used to come with their Play Stations and we set up projectors so that others could see exactly what they were doing. We finally noticed that its was too cumbersome to move computers to a venue so we stuck to gaming consoles. And over the years the games and everything else kept us especially the founding members together.
“We originally called the group the Sauce Crew, because when you make a sauce you put all the ingredients together, and so we the members are the ingredients. Then we wanted to make the name official and we decided on SauceKon, ‘Kon’ being convention for the members. It has now evolved into an Expo because of the most recent event that we had.
“Then we had been doing gaming for a while and as we attracted more sponsors we eventually landed a television show. It was through our passion of building a “community” that we attracted the attention of Choice TV and we’ve been doing it for about 4 years now. And now because Choice TV is being viewed in other Caribbean countries, we have the opportunity for players to travel overseas and compete with other players.
“SauceKon has survived through the years as a team and kept growing: we all are good at certain things that essentially help us execute our events – that’s what keeps it growing. We have network professionals, individuals into finance and banking, teachers, firemen, telecommunication specialists and we all have our different expertise that keep us together. The organisationnow consists of Valdez Franklin, Satori Chitolie, Alister Daniel, Miciah Montoute and Kervin Charlemagne.
“This year’s SauceKon: Infiltration, held on February 1, was somewhat new for us as we had participants from Barbados and we didn’t just bring them here for the event, but we
wanted them to enjoy the island as well. So we had an after party lime and they had VIP access to the parties on the night of the event. And the following day we took them around the island and our prize-giving ceremony was at Pigeon Point Beach. We’re essentially now creating a tourism product to make it more viable and attract more sponsors. We had the Ministry of Youth and Sports as a sponsor and now the Ministry of Tourism are showing an interest.
“We also had three gentlemen from the USA who were representing International Gaming Corporations; Peter Rosas (CAPCOM), Big E (Big E Gaming) and L.I Joe (East Coast Throwdown). All of them confessed that they never knew of Saint Lucia before our event and they are definitely coming back. So this goes to show the amount of potential this event has in terms of our tourism product.
“It is now SauceKon’s vision to promote this as a new way of attracting tourists and selling the island, especially to the younger, foreign demographic. Its also potential for filling the gap in the year’s calendar when there nothing in terms of the tourism product.
“At our latest event, Infiltration, there were competitions in six different skills: Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Injustice which are purely fighting games. Two sporting games FIFA 14 and NBA 2K14 for the sports-oriented, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, which was a shooter-sniper game.
“For each of these skills, persons were awarded first, second and third place prizes. The winners walked away with Android phones, cash money and trophies. There was also a Yu-Gi-Oh Competition and the Paintball Wars Company was also present.