Two young Barbadian men, 26-year-old Shadwayne Wilkinson and 20-year-old Ricardo Knight are transforming the world of virtual gaming in Barbados. Wilkinson, a past student of Christ Church Foundation School, said he believes gaming can help the economy.
“All over the world, people travel just to compete for a weekend, usually from Friday to Sunday. Those from the US, Europe and Asia constantly travel to play against each other for cash prizes. Rick and I are trying to get the same thing here going for Barbados in terms of big tournaments, making it the perfect destination for competitive gaming and we believe that would be great for the economy,” he said via a telephone interview.
On the other hand, Knight, a past student of Harrison College, said that he believes E-sport is an excellent way for Barbados to attract new people to the country and to provide what could be an additional industry the country can benefit from.
Wilkinson said that for him, gaming is a personal passion.
“I was introduced to gaming at the age of three by my older cousin. I played games every time I got the chance when I was younger. My father saw I loved gaming from an early age and used it to help me do well in primary school. He had a reward system. For example, if I did well in a test at school I would get to play Mario Kart for half an hour before I went to bed,” he said.
Fast forward 18 years and he is still in love with gaming, and at 21 years, he competed in his first tournament placing 5th. “I have won many tournaments since then, including FIFA and Mortal Kombat. I also have wins in online tournaments in various games against competitors from all over the world.”
Knight added that he started in 2009 at the local Animekon competition and has been competing since then. From 2015, he said he went on to St Lucia and Trinidad once a year to compete in E-sports.
“In 2018, I won in Trinidad and was invited to participate in Guadeloupe in March where I placed 1st. I was also the first Barbadian player to be sponsored to compete.”
Knight said that outside of his playing career he helped others start Highnoon Gaming in 2017 as a way to improve the gaming community.
“I feel like the gaming community already had poor organization and a lack of exposure. We started a YouTube channel and eventually started events for the community to come out to. Last year, we successfully organized games rooms for multiple tournaments for Animekon. After we impressed them, we were granted the opportunity to use Aeon Bar every Sunday for our events.”
Currently, Wilkinson said they have support from Fusionz Boutique and Aeon Bar and Grill.
He added that gaming, from mobile to competitive, is very common in Barbados.
“Times have changed and gaming has become a career for a lot of younger and older people alike; where millions are doing something they love as opposed to working an average 9-5.”
Wilkinson pitched in that he believes gaming could help with conflict resolution. If someone has an issue they would game as opposed to picking up a weapon or fighting.
Knight said his goal is to have his own arcade called the Home of E-sport. Wilkinson said that his goal is to build on his successes and bring exposure to video gaming and what it is all about.