Written by Nathan Winfrey in the June 2010 Issue

In 2006, OKgamers.com sprang to life to fulfill a simple purpose: Saif Khan loved playing “Soul Caliber III” and needed to find a challenging opponent. He launched the website and soon he had all the competition he could handle.

Khan realized he was onto something. He broadened the site to include a variety of games, from retro first person shooters to tabletop board games; and all types of gamers, from casual players to the hardcore elite.

Four-and-a-half years later, OKgamers.com now boasts 2,500 members and frequent gaming tournaments. Each month, the site enjoys tens of thousands of hits.

“The site is the best place in Oklahoma to meet fellow gamers, to commiserate, to find tournaments and to set up tournaments,” Cody Farrah, Edmond resident, says. “It’s completely free and everyone is welcome.”

It’s become a nexus for Oklahoma gamers to connect and organize. Regular events are held across the state at places like Play N Trade at 33rd Street and Broadway. It’s a place to discuss games, anime, technology and more.

Farrah, in his mid-20s, has been a member for more than a year. One of his favorite games is “Left 4 Dead 2,” a popular Xbox 360 title where players control one of four zombie apocalypse survivors in New Orleans. It’s a cooperative first-person shooter game, which means Farrah is no longer battling against his friends, but working with them.

“It has a great basis of teamwork; you really have to work together. It takes great leadership,” Farrah says. “Typically, players are calm and helpful because they’re working as a team.” He says “Left 4 Dead 2” is ideal because it tends to break down the stereotype that all gamers are male. “Guys are always going to outnumber girls, but I’ve seen a lot of girls play ‘Halo’ and I’ve seen a ton of girls play ‘Left 4 Dead 2’.”

“It’s not just a guy thing anymore,” Farrah says. “I think that’s changing as time goes on. More girls are getting into it every day.”

Beloved first-person shooter games “Halo 3,” “Modern Warfare 2” and cartoony-fighting game “Super Smash Brothers Brawl” are also popular among gamers. Other combat games like, “Super Street Fighter 4” and “Tekken 6” are very popular as well.

Expenses can be a hurdle, as each new game costs around $60 and gaming systems cost hundreds of dollars. Plus, some systems require fees for online play. “If you want the newest and greatest, you have to have a good job to support your habit,” said Farrah, who works as a store manager for a cell phone carrier.

One shouldn’t be intimidated by others’ skill levels when deciding whether to get involved in competitive or cooperative gaming. There are tournaments for everyone, from people who have barely touched a videogame controller, to people who were practically born with one in their hands. “People are really friendly and always willing to help if you have questions,” Farrah said.

Anyone can start a tournament at OKgamers.com, and some tournaments don’t even require the players to be in the same ZIP code. Online play is a fast-growing trend in community gaming, but traditional, face-to-face tournaments are still very popular.

Another major aspect of OKgamers.com is their community service. The site has been approved by 1800volunteer.org for their work to help students get community service hours. Up to 200 volunteers facilitate tournaments and help with the many conventions and large-scale events that OKgamers.com participates in. “It’s not just for gamers, it’s for businesses as well,” Farrah says. “We work with businesses and sometimes help them with charities,”

The gamers participate as additional volunteers for charity events. They setup, tear down and do anything else to make the event run smoothly. They also participate in events like Gamers Against Violence.

“We work with several volunteer systems to help them see that volunteering can be fun and about more than just shoveling dirt,” Khan says. “It shows gamers that they can go out and improve their communities, and have fun doing it.”

OKgamers.com has worked with the Tulsa Achievers program, which helps students go to college for free. They have also worked with hospices, churches and Oklahoma City Community College. June 18 through the 20, OKgamers.com members will volunteer at Tokyo in Tulsa, an anime convention.

Be sure to stop by the message boards at OKgamers.com for more information.

1 Comment

Ricky McNeal Says:
June 5th, 2010 at 1:58 pm
Saif Had opened doors for companies like ours Hardcore LAN Center. We have been hosting Halo3 and SSBB tournaments for a while now. Gamers come join the fun!
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