Highnoon Gaming is a Barbadian gaming group, co-founded by Nicholas Roach and Ricardo Knight. We ran into them during one of their Sunday night gatherings at Aeon Bar and Grill and decided to have a little chat with Roach, Knight and one of the group’s members, Mykelti Clarke, about the group and its activities and, of course, gaming.
Zeitgeist: Tell us about the actual group and when it started; give us some background information about it.
Nicholas Roach: Before, we were Trident All Stars. That was back in…say like, late 2016 and coming on to 2017. We actually rebranded as Highnoon Gaming. We are, right now, about to rebrand again – can’t disclose that information on the new stuff to come as yet. But, High Noon Gaming basically started as my final year project for community college. I did the Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. So I used Highnoon Gaming as my final year project and me and Ricardo Knight – who is also co-founder with me – he decided that we could take it to the next level.
So that’s when we decided to let the guys know that we were going to rebrand the group. ‘Cause it was just the guys getting together, doing [a] little gaming [at] the arcade every now and then and we decided: “There’s something much bigger than this now and we want to take it to the next level.”
Then we decided: “We’re going to take Highnoon Gaming and we’re just going to rebrand under that.” Then we started to hold events at the arcade – which is System Link Gaming Lounge. It was in Diamond Tower Lounge, Marhill Street in Bridgetown. We started to hold monthly events at first. Kel never won any, of course-
Mykelti Clarke: I actually did, so.
NR: Yea, he probably won one or two. That series was called “Come Scrub Out”; our monthly gathering for our monthly tournament and then we decided to hold one every Wednesday, which was “Wild Wild Wednesdays.” We would have mini tournaments which would allow the guys to get practice coming on to the big tournament at the end of the month.
Z: What exactly about video games caught your interest? What value and importance did you see in it in order to create this group?
NR: Oh, I love video games. Coming up, I never had my own video game console and I got my first [one when] I was in secondary school, or something like that, a Game Boy Advance. But I had been playing games with my cousins and stuff like that. They had Nintendo 64, Playstation 1, Playstation 2. So back then I just used to, as any kid would do with bigger family; you sit on the sidelines, you sit on the couch and watch and then you try to sneak a play when they move away to the kitchen or something and when they come back [they’re] like: “You touch my game?” And [you’re] like: “No. Of course not.”
So I would say, just my love for gaming and finding people that also love gaming. Like meeting Mykelti at System Link Gaming Lounge. It was amazing to me because I remember when I first got introduced to Mykelti. We got word of this guy at UWI that was pretty good at video games – at Smash in particular. When he came down – because he actually came to Rick’s house to play some Smash – I was like: “Alright, cool. This [is] the guy. We’ll school this guy now.” He was pretty decent. This was a new iteration of the Smash Bros. genre and he was like: “Wow. I met guys who are actually on my level.”
I mean, as a gamer you don’t know that [there are] people out there who are as good or even better than you. So you want to meet those people and challenge them. I think that’s what really pushed me and Rick to make the gaming group; because then we could just make a hub where everyone that’s into gaming could just come and be social. I mean, there’s this thing about gamers; they just sit at home – especially with online gaming now – and you just talk to your friends online and play games. But having the gaming group and the meet ups on Wednesdays and the end of the month…yea. You get people out that house and just get them to come on down.
Z: Would you say that you have a big community? Because you just spoke about online gaming and how that’s kind of encouraging people to stay at home and just play online. What does coming out and playing among each other offer that that can’t?
NR: I’ll let Mykelti handle that, because he did a thesis on this.
MC: You really get…a personal take on it. When it’s online it’s just you, in your room. You’re playing against other people across the world. You don’t get to see them, you don’t get to interact with them outside of the actual game itself. If their systems allow it you can message people, but offline will always be better.
‘Cause if you’re online you have to use an internet connection. If your internet connection is not great then the game won’t run smoothly. Even sometimes the best connections will never run as smoothly as offline.
Offline, again, you get to meet the individuals. Sometimes you might meet somebody online who’s great, but you might not have another opportunity for you to play that person. If you meet somebody in person you can learn from them or you want to teach them. You can have that interaction with them in person; you can sit down with them, come together, talk with them, you can make friends with them.
You can do the same thing online to an extent but, having that very close interpersonal relationship with a person offline is just much better than online ‘cause you can see who you’re playing against. And there’s something about sitting down next to a person and playing with them and playing with them multiple times. You really see who they are as a person; within the game and outside of that game as well, where online you won’t.
Online it’s just; “Oh this is a person online. This is who they play.” But I can sit down next to Nick, for instance, and I know – I can figure out what he’s thinking. He can figure out what I’m thinking and then it’s an unspoken chess battle in our minds, but it gets played out on the game. So that’s what I think offline offers that online just simply can’t.
Z: Both of you chose video games as a subject for your thesis. Do you think video games – and gaming in general – is a topic that could be chosen as a more academic topic for programmes?
MC: Studying, yes.Within my own thesis I tried to look at the business standpoint of it; gaming being a career. But, within my research I found that there are a lot of psychological facets that go into gaming as well. There’s a lot of mathematical processes that we as gamers have to go through.
I think [that] some studying of it should be done because gaming right now is becoming more and more popular. It’s becoming more and more mainstream. Even with talks about it becoming an Olympic sport. As time goes on I do think it’s something that needs to be studied.
I mean, just a quick aside, I actually want to do a documentary talking about the mind of a gamer; how we think. And I think that that’s something that should be studied ‘cause it’s a lot that goes on up [there], but a lot of people don’t understand and they don’t want to see it ‘cause there’s a stigma placed on gaming. I think, if more research is done and more opportunities for research is done, I think people can see it as bigger than what it initially is seen as; instead of just sitting down.
It can be used as a form of therapy. It can be used as a form of teaching – education. Some people think [gaming is] just buying a Playstation. No. [There are] companies that create programmes to teach kids how to [do math, etc]. That is gaming. That is one side of it; the educational side of gaming. So I do think that gaming has a place to be studied and researched within the future.
Z: Do you think that gaming has the potential to offer careers especially in the Caribbean and Barbados?
MC: Yes. Because, again, gaming as a career is not just the playing of the game. Somebody has to make the games. When the games come out, somebody has to test the games. If you want to take it to the competitive level, that then offers even more [opportunities]; you have the players, you could decide to be a sponsor, you could be a tournament organiser, you can be an analyst, you can be a commentator. These are all careers that are starting to become actual jobs. People make a living from just calling the shots of what’s happening in games.
NR: It’s gotten so big that commentators get flown out of their country, just to commentate on a game that’s happening in another country.
MC: And then there are other careers that exist. You can have maybe a video game creative director. If you want to design a space you have that mind of; “Okay well I know what the vision of gaming in my head is – because that’s what I’m about.” And then [if] you have an artistic side you can put that in too. I think as time goes on more jobs, more careers, will start to pop up.
Men on dey way to compete in st lucia @#BigBang #Freenessintensifies
Z: You just mentioned that people are flown out of their own country to come and commentate on games. Are there any big names in Barbados at the moment that you know of?
NR: Big names in Barbados I would honestly have to say [are] these guys in High Noon Gaming. We have Ricardo Knight, Fabian Hinds, Mykelti Clarke, Vandar Small…those guys.
MC: Damani Sargeant…a whole list of other people. Khiomal Powers.
NR: These guys have flown to and did regionals in the Caribbean.
MC: Trinidad, Martinque, we did St. Lucia recently.
NR: Yea, Michael Shanker, he’s actually the best in Barbados in Smash Bros., but he’s not here right now.
MC: Yea, he actually moved to New York.
NR: And he competes over there right now.
MC: But we don’t have any internationally proclaimed people yet.
NR: We want to get to that level.
Z: We’re at Aeon Bar and Grill and there is a weekly event that High Noon Gaming puts on here. Could you tell me about that?
Ricardo Knight: Omar Kennedy [co-owner of Aeon Bar and Grill], he is the proprietor of AnimeKon and this [year] was the first time we held an event at AnimeKon under our name. We were helping with the people that were running tournaments beforehand, since 2010, and this year was the first time we did it by ourselves.
Through that relationship that we built with Omar, he said that if we want to come [to Aeon] on Sundays and just bring our community down here then we could. So that’s basically what you’re seeing in here. We [have] the guys over here playing fighting games and then we [have] the guys over here playing more casual games.
The idea is, I guess, once we get the word out that this is what we do, some people that would be looking for something to do on Sundays would be able to come down and they have the option of; “Hey, I actually know how to play this game.” or “Hey, this is Mario Kart, Mario Party.”, something a little more casual for people that would otherwise be at the bar, but it’s just a little something extra for them to do, if they so please.
Z: Is there an age requirement?
RK: No. No, no. Anybody that wants to come out and play we will allow [them] to play. Even children. [With the fighting games] you might not get that sort of hospitality, ‘cause these guys are a little more serious when it comes to like the fighting games, but on the casual side 100%.
Z: What kind of games do you offer?
RK: The fighting games, it’s a small selection of games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Dragon Ball Fighters, Super Smash Bros., Injustice 2…
MC: Guilty Gear XRD, Tekken.
RK: It all depends on like which guys come down. They would then put on whichever game. On the casual side we have Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario Tennis –
NR: A lot of Mario games.
MC: They tend to be able to hold a larger number of people. Like up to four people could play at a time.
RK: So the kids would be able to do that while mummy and daddy [do] whatever.
MC: Getting a little drink at the bar, you know. We look out for everybody.
Posted by Highnoon Gaming on Friday, April 20, 2018
Z: Tell us about your gaming personas; why you choose them and what they mean.
MC: I actually had another one at first, “Kid_Blank” because I always liked the term “kid” and I couldn’t figure out something else, so I just put “Blank.” But then I really sat and thought about it and I came up with the name “Senshi” because my name is African and my name means “warrior”, but I have a very strong love for Japanese culture and in Japanese “warrior” is “senshi.”
NR: I got my name from a character in Noragami: “Yato.” He’s a god. He’s a very poor god. He doesn’t get [many] offerings and stuff like that. In the anime he’s rated as very low. He’s the protagonist of the anime, so he’s kind of like the underdog. That’s how I feel personally about myself.
I came from someone who has never played Smash Bros. competitively and just being at Rick’s house and stuff like that and just practising, I managed to come up and place top four and top three in tournaments and stuff like that.
RK: Back when I first started competing in the competitive scene, I was travelling under the name of “Baje Knight.” Which is sort of dull because it’s just a shortened “Bajan” and my surname.
But then I stumbled across [the word] “narcopath” and [I read] something about it being a combination of a narcissist and a sociopath [and that] these people have the makings to be psychopaths and killer I.n the gaming community everybody aiming to be a “killer.”
So I’m like; “Okay, let me embody this name so that when I’m playing I always have to remember; “Yo. Channel into the mind of a killer.”” So that way I would always be focused..
Z: What kind of games do you normally play?
RK: I play shooters, FIFA and Smash. The fighting games…I have an extensive knowledge about them, but I don’t actually play them. My fingers don’t cooperate with me the way these guys’ do.
NR: I generally just love video games so I play some of everything; RPGs, shooters. But my love for fighting games is very, very deep.
MC: Similar to Nick. I grew up playing a myriad of different games, but when I really found myself in games I actually started out mainly playing first-person shooter games like Battlefield and Call of Duty. But Smash is what really start[ed] it for me and I realised that I had a knack for all [of] the other games like Tekken and stuff like that. I mainly play fighting games at the moment, but first-person shooters [are] my first love.
Z: Is there anything that you want readers of this article to know about the club or the Sunday evenings that you have?
RK: For right now, the word spreading on this event would be helpful to us, but we are actually currently working with an arcade to do a joint venture where we have a set location that we would then say; “Well hey, Monday to Saturday, you could see us there and then Sunday we will be up here.”
NR: Follow High Noon Gaming on Facebook and look out for the very big launch of our rebrand that we plan to do.
MC: Follow us on all social media; YouTube, Instagram. Those three.
NR: I forgot to mention that we also do recordings [of the games we play]. That’s a very big part of our events on Wednesdays at at the end of the month. So we post all of those videos to our YouTube channel and they have live commentary and stuff like that.
Highnoon Gaming on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/highnoongaming/ – @highnoongaming
Highnoon Gaming on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/highnoongaming/ – @highnoongaming
Highnoon Gaming on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzkXPzoWsqIaL6hWrqE9DJQ
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.