Gaming.cat: where video games and gamers speak Catalan
We talk to Francesc Felipe, founder of the video game community Gaming.cat, who was born in Ses Salines (Majorca) and is a biologist by trade. You’ve been working as an Application Scientist in a German company that makes laboratory equipment and playing video games since 1985.
How and why did Gaming.cat come about?
I played on line with people from abroad at a time when Va de Jocs existed, in around 2012 or 2013: the video game website par excellence in Catalan. One day I thought to myself that I’d had enough of playing with people from abroad, and that there were bound to be other Catalans playing the same games as me. I went to the site to look for people, despite the fact that an agreement had recently be signed between Va de Jocs and the newspaper Ara which established that the forum wasn’t in line with the paper’s editorial policy, so it had become a site with no forum. I looked on other forums, but some were inactive and a lot specialised in just one game. It was then that I decided to create the website, which was initially a blog with news, a forum, and a YouTube channel. From then on, a group of us got together from time to time, especially youtubers, who are the most active, and things took off rather gradually until we decided to form the Telegram group in 2016, at a time when forums were no longer the trend. Everything was much easier with Telegram, the community started to grow much faster and it was easier to organise activities.
How many people currently take part in promoting Gaming.cat?
One advantage of Gaming.cat és is that we have some people who are only part of Gaming.cat and others who are part of other communities, such as Nintenhype, fans of Playstation, Catalan Xboxers or a recently created group of virtual reality video game fans: VR Catalans. Many focus on the tasks involved in their own community and we try to coordinate everything among us all through Gaming.cat. Other people organise the podcast Cinc minuts més, who are part of the community but who operate as a separate team. Exclusively to Gaming.cat there are another three or four people who help with promotion, with running the YouTube channel, Twitch, the social media, etc. and then we created the GamingCat Association for when we need to organise an event or anything requiring legal assistance, an association with the sole purpose of supporting the community’s initiatives. We do have a small team spread out among the different activities, one member of whom is Roger Catalan, “Pireta”.
You also organise an award ceremony, don’t you?
Yes! That was an experiment by the podcast director David Buxarrais, who suggested the ceremony as the last podcast of the year. It was quite rough going, because the first time you do something, you sometimes make mistakes, but we decided to change the format a bit and do it again. It’s a way of putting the spotlight on the community and allowing them to choose their favourite games, although part of the awards are also devoted to Catalan developers and to video games in Catalan, and it’s also a way of giving us more promotion.
Is the podcast Cinc minuts més also a meeting point for podcasts from other existing communities?
The people from Nintenhype take part, who have their own podcast, as well as those from Catcom News, but these can be said to be independent initiatives. Spaces are simply given within the podcasts for the news on each community, but then each community with a podcast discusses the news on their games in more detail.
You also explore the existing range of video games in Catalan.
If you look at the statistics by Google, you’ll see that there are very few video games in Catalan, but more games of a really high quality are gradually being created in our language. All the people who take the time to translate the game should be highlighted, because it’s not normally very profitable: they do it through conviction. The aim is for it to be easy for users to find games in Catalan, so that eventually more and more are made. In fact, one of the things we’ve done that had most impact was the campaign we organised so that Twitch had a hashtag in Catalan to identify the live games in the language, and this has been very effective over recent months. In the world of video games, many youtubers have switched to Twitch, so there is very little video game content in Catalan on Youtube whereas there’s a lot on Twitch, and thanks to this campaign, Twitch has a filter in Catalan that makes it much easier to find everything.
Why did you choose the .cat domain?
No other possibility occurred to me! I wanted to create a site of reference in Catalan in terms of video games and gaming, so choosing a .cat was the clearest option. Looking back, I must say that, because “gaming” isn’t a Catalan word, any domain other than .cat would have made it too generic.