By Mark Kawalya
Gamers Nights is a little-known gaming community in Uganda that is made of up youth that meets regularly and plays computer games through an online network with other players around the world. Founded in 2010 the group has morphed into an association that brings together more than 300 gaming enthusiasts that actively play PC games.
The group hosts gaming servers in Uganda through which anyone with a computer and reliable internet can use to play games with other gamers. Aside from playing regularly, the team also meets occasionally for physical events.
“We believe that multiplayer PC gaming is not only a source of entertainment; it’s a highly educational, competitive sport, a driver of Internet infrastructure development, and a catalyst for local content generation,” says Tony Rukera, the director at Gamers Nights
Financially, the group is supported by players and donations from actors within the local technology sector. Currently, their main sponsor is Liquid Telecom which donated a $20,000 server, unlimited access to their international backbone as well as low latency access to all networks they use to connect to other gamers within Africa. Previously, Gamers Night was sponsored by Smile Telecom, Outbox, Hive Colab, Orange telecom, and the S7 Project.
The community got international attention when a hilarious video they uploaded to YouTube went viral, featuring a Ugandan security guard trying out a virtual reality headset for the first time.
The team has also taken part in social gaming events and was invited to a robotics camp organized by Fundi Bots (a local start-up that teaches robotics to school-going children) to foster the learning of technology for children through gaming.
Although FIFA football is the most widely played video game in Uganda by non-PC gamers (those that use consoles like Playstations and Xboxes), the Gamers Night fraternity doesn’t think too highly of console games.
“We prefer PC gaming because it allows us to link up on the Internet. Each of us can play from the comfort of our homes. But you cannot play Xbox or Playstation on the Internet, not in Uganda at least. We just don’t have the infrastructure,” said Spectre, a veteran gamer.
The association also organizes charity gaming events. They collaborated with Hive Colab and supported the 40 days 40 smiles charity foundation who were working on a dormitory building project for a school located in Luweero District.