Website dedicated to local gaming community
By Vishnu 'Ramius' Mahmud
JAKARTA (JP): One year ago, I was asked how many local websites there were; sites that were Indonesian in content or design. I quickly responded "less then 200". I figured that with low PC-ownership and even lower Internet exposure, not many people in the country would have a web presence. Boy, was I ever wrong.
Over the past year we have seen a wave of new Indonesian Internet websites. There are countless corporate, commercial and content-rich websites; not to mention a truckload of personal homepages. Some of these sites start out big, while others remain small and sometimes stagnate. Some, however, just keep on growing. One of them is Indogamer.com.
Indogamer is the brainchild of Sun Lim, otherwise known as "Shade". A computer science graduate from Bina Nusantara College, Shade got hooked on computer games relatively late, when he started college. The first game he played was Romance of Three Kingdoms II, a medieval strategy game. He played it day and night during the heyday of the 386 processor and VGA graphic cards (compared to today's Pentium processor and high-end graphic accelerator cards).
Although many of his friends thought his new hobby was a waste of time, Shade found a whole new fantastic world where he could travel into the middle ages and virtually experience the friendship, love and heroics of the main character. It gave him critical thinking skills, provided him with a different perspective of life and taught him English. Instead of reading a book passively, Shade actively took part in the adventure, actions, humor, decision-making and consequences within the game.
As the Internet began to creep into our lives, Shade found that there were no Indonesian websites that focused on his passion. There were a few "fan" game sites, rarely updated, that provided basic gaming information. And most of them were in English. Thus, armed with a Pentium II computer and some computer scripting skills, Shade launched Indogamer.com on June 9, 1999.
At first, Indogamer was a labor of love. Hosted on an inexpensive web server in the U.S., Shade posted information on the games he played and read about. He would update his site almost daily, starting at 7 p.m. (when he returned home from work) to around midnight. With the help of two friends, FireStorm and JKnight, (both of whom he meet online but never in person), Shade slowly added more features such as console gaming, demo download links and game reviews for PCs, Playstation, Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo. There was even a message board where Indonesian gamers all over the world could swap stories, taunts and questions.
At first, he only had a few visitors checking out his site; one or two people surfing the world wide web would accidentally land on his piece of cyber real estate. He thought about giving up since he felt that no one was taking pleasure in a website that was his pride and joy.
But he persevered. Thanks to word of mouth advertising, Indogamer.com now has 2,500 page views daily and a membership of over 120. These numbers may be small compared to the 240,000 thousand average page views and over 100,000 members of the "big boys" like Detik or Satunet, but for a small community portal like Indogamer, the numbers can only improve. Gaming is establishing a foothold in Indonesia with game centers opening up in major cities and Playstations selling like hotcakes. Jakarta is still the number one capital of Indonesian gamers, but Bandung and Surabaya are catching up fast with their hordes of fanatical game enthusiasts.
Now part of the Astaga Internet Group, Indogamer plans to expand the site by adding a hardware section that is relevant to Indonesia. Prices, reviews and places to buy the latest computer equipment will have their own channel on the site. Shade also hopes that Indogamer can also host game servers where people from all over Indonesia can hook up via the Internet and play some of the more popular games together. Having the game server based in Jakarta would speed up the connection for local Internet users since Internet lag is problematic for all modem owners.
Shade's goal of making Indogamer.com the one stop gaming site for Indonesians is becoming a reality. Indogamer's success can probably be summed up by Shade's willingness to make a site out of love instead of profit. One of his goals is to build a local gaming community the size of Singapore's and South Korea's, countries which posses not only a large gaming culture but some of the best gamers in the world. Indonesia may not have the most PC gamers, but we probably have the most Playstation gamers in the Pacific region.
Although he admits that online gaming is not that popular in Indonesia due to high telecommunication costs, Shade is confident that global competition will lower phone rates. In the meantime, people will still be playing at home or in game centers to continuously improve their scores and standings among their friends in Jakarta, Indonesia and the world.
For further information, log on to www.indogamer.com.
-- The writer is co-leader of Brigade Indo Gamer [BIG], an Indonesian gaming clan. He can be reached at email@example.com.