Michael Peace, 45, is a Baltimore City-born and raised educator. For 16 years, he has taught in city schools, run mentor programs and worked at Police Athletic League centers. He is also the owner of M.A.P. Technologies, which stands for his first name, his brother Ameer’s first name, and their surname.
Located at 322 W. Baltimore St., the original location of the now-closed Eldorado strip club and lounge, M.A.P. Technologies is an electronic repair shop with a gaming lounge that doubles as a community center.M.A.P. has become a go-to escape for all things gaming in Baltimore. More than that, though, M.A.P. Technologies continues to push Peace’s legacy as an educator to inner-city youth.
Peace sees M.A.P. Technologies as a safe haven for the youth of Baltimore because he knows the path he could’ve followed.
“I was half horrible growing up and I think I sort of turned out okay, so I can deter someone from taking these wrong paths by them just being in here,” he said. “A kid is in here playing Fortnite or playing Call of Duty. Well, he’s not out there doing anything dumb and I know that for a fact because he’s in here as I’m watching him play Call of Duty. He’s in a good environment.”
Taulib “score|swayze” Wright, 31, found out about M.A.P. last year from a friend who was a regular there. Wright picked up playing video games from his grandmother, who was a fan of the Sonic series on Sega Genesis. His grandmother also bought him his first game, Pokémon Yellow, on a Game Boy Color, as a gift for the Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr.
“The beautiful thing about M.A.P. being downtown is that throughout all the hustle and bustle being between the Hippodrome and the [Royal Farms] arena, there’s still a space for esports,” he said. “If I’m not already running a tournament there, I’m usually in attendance every month because I find a lot of like-minded people. ... We all watch the same anime, play the same games, remember the same old consoles and even hate the same wrestlers.”
Not only is M.A.P. Technologies a home for gaming tournaments, but the venue hosts events like concerts, art shows and finance classes taught by 40-year-old Jon Williams, who is also a freelance information technology teacher.
“When people come in and they see myself doing a computer class or Jon doing a finance class teaching about stocks, they kind of get to equate to ‘Well, if he can do it, I can do it,’ you know? So it covers two bases — you get to see Black males in a positive light and people are in here learning about something,” Peace said.
Williams joked that after using the M.A.P. space for a Fortnite tournament, Peace essentially kidnapped him. “I liked what M.A.P. was all about and it was a great experience so I joined,” Williams said. “The mission of M.A.P. is to mentor, educate and give information to the masses that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get and I think that’s super important where we are, so that kinda started with me bringing the classes talking about stock trading and things of that nature.”
808s & Sadbois, an underground musical showcase series founded by alternative music scene figure Qué Pequeño, has been occasionally held at M.A.P. Technologies. The venue’s reputation reached Pequeño through word-of-mouth from other colleagues in the scene.
“I knew it was a venue I could work with due to them giving opportunities to other friends in our community,” he says. “Mike is reliable and easy to work with because he just wants to see events happen.”
Brian Marvin, 37, is a frequent Tekken and Super Smash Bros. player as well as a tournament host. He met Peace through a mutual friend and has regularly visited M.A.P. Technologies ever since.
“I’ve been going to M.A.P. at least every other week for over 10 years,” Marvin said. “The atmosphere feels like a home, not a business like a Dave & Buster’s, and it’s because Michael is one of the most well-intentioned people that I’ve ever met. Every event he plans, he wants to know how it can benefit the community.”
Aside from simply educating the attendees of M.A.P. Technologies, Peace enjoys the camaraderie. “One of the cool things that always stuck out in my head was this one time after a Madden tournament ended, one of the young gentleman stayed around and played while the gaming lounge was opening up. And another kid, who is literally dressed like one of the Akatsuki [a group of shinobi ninjas from the popular Naruto franchise], he has the robe on, he has the boots, he has the headband and he goes up to the other gentleman to play Madden with him. So for about an hour, these two guys, who never would have talked and are from two different worlds, two different walks of life, had a blast.
“But the one commonality that brought them together was gaming. And when I saw that, I said that is one of the reasons why I do that — like these guys would never have talked, but they’re sitting here not bothering anybody.”