MACON, Ga. — Like many bars and restaurants downtown, Reboot Retrocade and Bar is temporarily closing due to concerns for the coronavirus.
The retro arcade bar is a home to many of Central Georgia's competitive gamers. Kirkland Dent, who organizes gaming tournaments for the bar, said normally it would be full.
"We run monthly tournaments. We put together daily training sessions or get together to play games. Monthly, we'll have an average of 25, but that average has increased exponentially over the past year or two," Dent said.
Normally, the Macon gaming community gathers in the bar for offline tournaments of games like Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.
With everyone staying at home, Dent has seen a shift to more online tournaments. He's been busy contacting other cities to see what can be done about bringing the different gaming communities together.
"Already I've reached out to some of the Georgia tournament organizers in the state about the idea of maybe doing a regional, if not a local tournament," Dent said.
That could connect Central Georgia with Atlanta, where gaming tournaments are more prominent. Local hot spots like Macon connect regions together that can't make it to the bigger tournaments. When things like gas money or time stand in the way of making it to a tournament, moving online can play a part in uniting the gaming community.
Dent connected me with competitive gamer Antonio Hutchings, who plays Tekken 7.
I decided to try the game myself. The rest of this story is our interview while we played the game together.
Avery: "When you talk about playing competitively, what are you seeing from folks when you try and do stuff like that?"
Antonio: "The online tactics are completely different than the offline. It took me a long time to kind of get adjusted to playing offline. There's the lag you have to deal with. You have to deal with real people instead of in competition, you're at your house and I'm at my house. I'm right next to that person so I have to think about what they're doing and are they going to intimidate me."
Avery: "Ling Xiaoyu is somebody you use all the time. I notice [the character] is a girl so what's that all about?"
Antonio: "She's kind of what you call a specialty character, where you have to know her inside and out to kind of use her effectively."
Avery: "Do you see online tournaments picking up as we move forward in this quarantine situation?"
Antonio: "I do feel like now we're going to get to the point where you can run online tournaments. You can start paying people out like on Paypal. You can almost kind of eliminate in-person gaming if you want, but there's really nothing better than playing against a real person in a real moment."
Avery: "Do you think this quarantine situation brings that community closer together?"
Antonio: "I'm hoping that it will. We kind of need to, at this point, realize we need each other's support and help."
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