A few months ago, I broke down the story of how I became interested in eSports. I'm not a
massive gamer, but I have always been familiar with the gamer lifestyle because of my younger brother. What spiked my curiosity about eSports, was a continuous conversation I had with Ambassador Studio's very own, Chance McKinney. You have already heard from him this past week about his experience at the eSports Business Summit. After my conversation with Chance, I naturally circled back to my brother and asked what his involvement was. He was like, "dude, I've been going to these DOTA2 tournaments for years. So, in August I set out with my brother on my first eSporting adventure, TI8. I fell in love with the experience so much that I insisted to my team that we attend the First Annual eSports Business Summit in Las Vegas to learn more about how Ambassador Studios could get involved. After all, 1/3 of our entire company is dedicated to Digital Interactive Gaming Experiences. So why not?
Ambassador Studios' journey to Vegas began by arriving a few days early and getting in
some company social time. We had all been to Vegas a million times for work so we were
very interested in seeing what lies beyond the strip. What we found was the desert and it
was spectacular. Please go see the Red Rocks, and please make time to see the dam with your friends. Both, the Hoover Dam and Red Rocks, were beautiful!!
Monday, October 1, 2018
We kick off our experience with a modern digital interactive take on golf. If you haven't
been to Top Golf you have to go! I am terrible at golf, but it really doesn't matter. I mean,
I didn't win any games, but I had a blast. This was a great way to kick off The Summit. The Top Golf activity made it easy to see why different groups were there and that everyone was onboard with seeing how they could work together to make the future of eSporting Events exciting.
After guzzling down a few breakfast beers and AM Ales, I headed to my first Workshop:
eSports for Brand & Sports Marketers: How to Activate the World's Fastest-Growing EVent Platform. It was a great start to my workshop experiences! The room was a little snug, but getting to listen to Chris Blivin, Ben Paro and Allan Phang; really gave me the feeling that Ambassador Studios was in the right place, and that we were going to learn a ton. It made me thankful that I was listening to my younger counter parts Chance and Zach. Right out of the gate it brought a few things home that we were already on the right track. Chris Blivin really nailed it as he discussed some of the necessary authenticity needed by companies introducing themselves into this young arena. Ben Paro backed up the validity of the eSports sector by presenting some pretty great marketing evidence with the Marketing Research they do at Simmons Research. The class rounded off with hearing Allan's story about his outside interest of eSports and presenting AirAsia with the opportunity to become sponsors (despite the fact that they were non-endemic to the eSports World). Gaining entrance into this world is possible and valuable and that is exciting!
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
Tuesday marked the day that I heard the most compelling presentation, and it was a bit out of left field..... By this time in the Workshop Summit the Buzz words were starting to compile: Endemic Brands, Non-Endemic Brands, Authenticity, "The future is unknown or we really don't know", and so on. One of the underlying themes that showed its face, but
wasn't really being talked about, was the fact that Marketers want in and the gaming
community is pretty happy having their world to themselves. That was by no means outright
spoken and not a constructed theme, but harping on authenticity by both sides was really painting that picture. Because of this industry underlying theme, brands are reluctant to engage because they don't want to be railed online by the gaming community with the consequence of not being invited back to the table. Rob Hittner of VY Esports' Presentation titled, "Biggest Hits and Misses in eSports Activation" I couldn't pass up. I wanted to know what was decidedly good and what was decidedly bad. I wanted a way to compartmentalize my strategies for moving forward in the eSports space. Well, Rob, pulled a fast one and it was beautiful. After attending many of the previous workshops and honing in on this underlying negative theme inside of some of these buzz words, he pulled an audible bate and switch and confronted these issues in a very funny but very real and "in your face pulling no punches" way. I love that.
I know what I'm dealing with when the cards are on the table. Rob spoke about how the
gaming community should protect their world, but that they have to take the risk of letting
the outsiders in because it will make their world of eSports that much better, by elevating
it beyond its status of "grandma's unkept basement dwellers" and bringing them to the world-
giving them the viability they deserve and showing that to everyone. eSports is real. It is powerful, and it is here to stay and grow and these are inaccurate representations of this community.
Rob, also went on to call both endemic and non-endemic brands into the spotlight by encouraging them to take the risk without the fear of consequence and by defining authenticity as persistence after failure. If you fail and keep returning to the eSports space you will become authentic and you will have earned. Stop being afraid and begin earning the deserved respect this group wants.
Once these two hurdles are overcome in this space I believe it will be an unstoppable force.
The numbers alone speak so loudly about the gaming world. I'll boil that down. Basically,
everyone you know is a gamer. They may not talk about it, but they are. To sum it up with one of my favorite old adages; 30% of people are gamers and the other 70% are lying about it.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018
The final day was a great day for Ambassador Studios. People started recognizing our small army as the guys with the super comfy free T-shirts. People were asking if they could have two, one for them and one for their girlfriend. We are still having conversations with people we met from this conference about our T-shirts. That alone made me pretty happy. Our logo that we deliberated on for so long was getting recognition. That made networking even more fun.
As I'm feeling happy about the T-shirts and that we gave them all away and people were liking them, we attended the final General Session and it really tied a lot of things together. The main theme being that the best thing you can do is identify your partners and groups that want to work in the eSports space and get to working on "working together". It really is going to take all of these different groups and companies to launch eSports into the next level. This Blue Ocean group of people made me happy. There is definitely some gray area on what the future of eSports looks like, but we know that working together to bring our passions to life is the only definite way forward.