M.A.P. Technologies is a local computer repair store that has blossomed into a community center and burgeoning eSports hub in downtown Baltimore.
Founded by Michael and Ameer Peace, who are brothers, M.A.P. stands for Michael, Ameer and their family name, Peace.
M.A.P. Technologies started 20 years ago as a PC repair shop at a table in the Patapsco Flea Market. Starting with PC repair, they expanded after recognizing an opportunity to sell video games. Now, they are renovating a new 10,000-square-foot space downtown at 322 W. Baltimore Street. It’ll have a video game lounge that doubles as a community center. Michael Peace, who is the owner, expects the renovations to be done and the space open in March, COVID willing.
Peace said it will be a place for tournaments, gaming workshops where pro players teach Fortnite, coding bootcamps and even finance classes. He feels it is important to cultivate a space for youth in the community.
“First and foremost, it’s important to give young people something to do,” he said. “If a kid is in here playing Fortnite, he’s absolutely not outside doing anything crazy.”
With the rise of eSports, Peace also recognizes that video games aren’t just a hobby. They’re a multimillion dollar industry. Now 43 years old, he can imagine what his parents would think about making a living playing video games.
“If I could take a time machine and go back 25 or 30 years and tell my parents that when they got me a Super Nintendo that I could be a millionaire,” said Peace, they would probably be surprised anyone made a dollar, let alone a million.
“I remember my dad saying, ‘Why are you sitting here playing this stuff? You could do anything else,'” he said.
In 2021, however, there are streamers, like Richard “Ninja” Blevins, that get million dollar deals to sign with one streaming company over another. And there are over $30 million dollar pools for tournaments featuring games like DOTA and Fortnite.
Two of the best fighting game players in the world, Dominique “Sonicfox” McLean and Victor “Punk” Woodley, came from Delaware and Philadelphia, respectively. It’s not a stretch to say the next eSports star can come from Baltimore if there are places like M.A.P Technologies that offer them a space to hone their skills.
“It’s a little different when you’re playing someone sitting beside you. You get that camaraderie, that friendship aspect,” said Peace. “Now the people in Baltimore really have a venue to call their own.”
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Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-