I think one of the greatest things about gaming is just how easy it is to connect with people that you would never otherwise meet. Gaming is a place where you can express yourself more freely, you meet people who appreciate you for who you really are. Representation is important in gaming as it helps establish role models, which for young people is key in promoting participation.
What is the gaming industry and esports?
Billie: Although similar, the gaming industry and esports are two separate industries. The gaming industry is the development, marketing and distribution of video games, whether that be playing on PC, console or mobile.
Esports can be considered as ‘competitive’ video gaming, transforming online gaming into a spectator sport. In the same way an individual may enjoy watching rugby or netball, fans enjoy watching their favourite players and supporting their favourite teams across various titles of different games.
What is the first game you ever played? Were you hooked straight away?
I have been gaming since I was really young (thanks Dad) so couldn’t tell you the first game I ever played, but the one I found most enjoyable when I was younger was the Simpsons Hit and Run. The very original Star Wars Battlefront is probably what got me into shooter games which then led onto playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege in my teens!
Is gaming expensive?
Depends what kind of gamer you are, I know people who have invested a lot of money into studio-like setups so they can stream their gameplay as a way to generate an income. Kit can be expensive, however there are many free to play games out there, there are PC cafes that exist where you can rent a PC or you can stick to console or even play games on your phone! Gaming is a large expense to me, because it is a hobby, but also a large part of my work and content so it is an investment in my eyes.
Why do you like gaming?
I have always been a competitive person and enjoy working towards a goal, the game VALORANT has provided me with opportunities both as a player and an analyst that I may never have considered if I just played casually. However, gaming is also a form of escapism where I can just chill out and grind a game for hours. I love that it brings lots of different people together from different walks of life. I am fully aware of the negative connotations that exist when you think of a ‘gamer’ and how it can be considered as a ‘distraction’ however it is something that I have been able to turn into a career from a hobby. There are so many different skills to be developed and roles available in gaming outside of just being a player. I wish I knew that gaming and esports was a viable career pathway when I was younger!
Sometimes there is a debate about how much time young people (and all people!) spend in front of screens, do you think that is something to worry about, how do you balance your life?
I think routine and balance are extremely important, especially because I spend a lot of time at my PC. When I was a competitive player I was at my PC 9-5pm for my job then in practice 6-10pm so it was long hours sat down. Taking breaks in between to stretch, get some fresh air and staying hydrated has all been really important when I know I have a long day. In regards to competing, I believe the same attitude that athletes have is just as important in esports, such as having a healthy diet (gamers have a stigma for eating junk food 24/7!) getting enough exercise and having a healthy sleep schedule.
Do your friends also game?
None of my friends from my home town were gamers as such, which meant growing up I was a bit of a closet gamer. I think as a young girl I felt a little embarrassed by it due to not knowing any other girls that were interested in it. I do think now that it is becoming a part of mainstream media we are seeing a lot of people take an interest. Some of my closest friends I have made through working at gaming events and meeting them through different online gaming communities. I try not to differentiate between my ‘IRL’ friends and my online friends – those friendships are just as meaningful, and gaming wouldn’t be the same alone.
You’ve talked before about representation for everyone, not just gender diversity, why is representation and diversity in esports important?
I think one of the greatest things about gaming is just how easy it is to connect with people that you would never otherwise meet. Gaming is a place where you can express yourself more freely, you meet people who appreciate you for who you really are. Representation is important in gaming as it helps establish role models, which for young people is key in promoting participation. I know for sure if I had seen someone who looked like me or spoke like me in gaming, I would have been in this industry sooner, and perhaps wouldn’t have been so shy about it as a kid. It is one of the most inclusive activities out there, of course there are barriers yet to be overcome, which is what a lot of my full time job focuses on breaking down, to make esports and gaming more accessible for all and help foster a safe environment for people to grow in.