This column is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.Rachel Quirico's been in and out of gaming since she was a young child. Always being fascinated with gaming and the virtual realm of technology, she's pushed forward to become one of the best e-sports journalists and hosts in today's competitive gaming scene, having been to dozens of events in the last few years, helping out CyberSportsNetwork. She's responsible for initially exposing a good friend of Cadred's in an early video interview, which later resulted in Andrew taking Donghwan into the CSN house. Through the use of a unique hospitality towards others, she achieves a wonderful chemistry amongst the social atmopshere of the e-sports crowd and acts as a spark of life.
I see my recent popularity as a result of hard work and good networking. A lot of esports fans don't know that I've been lurking around the competitive gaming scene for close to 7 years, previously as a gamer and total fangirl. People fixate on the "female" part of my appeal, but that's fine, it's part of what helps me stand out. What esports fans get with me though is female representation that goes deeper than T&A; they get a someone who has known and loved gaming for a long time, and who can speak accurately and passionately about it.
Since February, I've spent fewer than 20 days at home with all the events and stuff I've had to attend. It's fantastic, no doubt, but there comes a point when I just want put on some sweatpants, make some tea, and play some games myself. July is a bit slow for me, event-wise, so I've been spending my free time visiting my friends in Jersey and catching up on a lot of video editing. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff in the works at CSN too, so I'm excited to turn my attention inward and help with some cool upcoming projects!
I don't know if studying journalism more in college would have helped, but I know that studying psychology has given me a lot of personal strategies to live up to my own expectations. Passion and dedication are the fuel I put in the tank, but Criticism is the engine that compresses it into something useful and moves me forward. I was fortunate to have a series of excellent mentors throughout my early esports career who weren't afraid to be honest with me. Now, I have several thousand generous internet commentors who share all sorts of ideas on how I can improve...and I really appreciate it.
Sure, sometimes I get some asinine messages, but every comment, if read correctly, is feedback about how I'm presenting myself and if I'm accomplishing what I want to accomplish. I guess what I'm saying is, in a new field like esports, it's all about trial and error. There are many things that would have helped prepare me in one way or another, but there's no teacher quite like experience!
There were always gaming consoles in my house growing up. I played with contolers as naturally as legos and swingsets. The Nintendo64 was mostly for group games like Mario Kart and Goldeneye. My Playstation was for Final Fantasy, Monster Rancher, DDR, and whatever cheapo used games I found. I played in (read: dominated) the Toys R Us Pokemon League and took my TCG skills to comic shop tourneys all over the area. Competition and being a giant nerd were my bread and butter, so naturally, when I met TorcH at the end of high school, we had much in common.
The Collegiate Starcraft League has been around since Brood War, but only recently has it received so much attention thanks to a combination of stream audiences, endorsement by huge personalities like Day9, pro-player participation for some lucky universities, and, most recently, esports-related scholarships!
While I'm excited to witness a successful league that highlights talented student players, I'm even more excited for the overhaul in the mass-media perception of gamers that CSL's success heralds. Look, parents! Here are young adults who have turned their gaming into something productive and profitable, all while maintaining a high-level education! Aren't they great examples for your young game-obsessed adolescent?
That's not even mentioning the untapped college-age spectator demographic. Universities are perfect spots for barcrafts, esports clubs, and, as The Lone Star Clash proved, full-scale tournament events. If we're lucky, we'll be seeing more college-based events as soon as fall semester. I know Lone Star 2 in the works!
Haha! I'm a journalist because competing didn't work out for me! When I was playing Team Fortress 2, I was just so in love with scrimming and drilling (TorcH would time our runs from spawn to the center of Granary or B on Gravel Pit) and playing in tournaments and mostly with winning. I love winning more than chocolate. But after TF2, I stopped winning as much. In Warcraft 3...in Street Fight 4...In Halo...I was painfully close to average.
Additionally, on my adventures, I kept meeting ladies who were actually really incredibly good; my TF2 co-leader Joyrok, mai DotA pro waifu Neha "Rinoa" Nair, fighting gamers like Vanessa Artega and BurnUrBra, the unbeatable WCG Ultimate Gamer, Kat Gunn... I couldn't touch these chicks, and it felt useless competing for the spotlight against talent like that. League has been the first game in a while that I've felt at all "good" at.
Still, a lot of the finer equations escape me, and my talent is limited the to uber-empathetic support role (a favorite of mine since Battlefield 2...but not one that bestows rock-star status). If I were to try and go pro in anything, LoL would be it. As for Call of Duty on Xbox, my other guilty pleasure...well...the Friday Night Fights episode pretty much put a cap in that dream.
This column is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.You're known to be straightforward with answers and opinions, so I'll abuse that -- as you may probably know by now, many male gamers troll chat rooms and threads with immature sexually-related comments regarding you and the whole "look, a female!" mentality. How does this affect your work, if at all, and what is your thoughts on this? Can it change, or is this just the way the gaming community will remain? What do you think can be done to prevent this from happening so that female and male gamers are looked at in the same way?
The short answer is that, eh, it goes right under the bridge. I just shrug it off. On some level, it's nice to know people think I look good, and on another it seems like a way for these guys in the community to bond more with each other "TITS!! AMIRITE, BRO!?"-style. I don't know how much of it is about me, or women, and how much of it is about the guy himself who feels the need to yell, but on the internet, only the extremes really get noticed...and people sure like to be noticed!
I think these attitudes bleed over from our mainstream culture, and because of the dude-majority in competitive gaming, they're permitted or encouraged. I don't know if funneling more females into the scene will fix it since girls can be plenty misogynistic themselves, but it's one way to dilute the gender contrast that makes our few current females stand out as targets (and Anna and I would like some more girlfraands to hang with).
It saddens me that some women will never embrace the esports scene just because of the comments people would lob at her. I just don't know what lies at the bottoms of some people's hearts that drives them to try and hurt a stranger's feelings. At the end of every Live On Three, SirScoots says somethign like, "Support what you like. Don't try to tear down what you don't, just leave it." More than for teams or sponsors, I wish people would apply this to female players and tournaments. Not your thing? Leave it alone. That would big step forward in solving the problem of the treatment of our girls. I assure you we'd all rather be ignored than yelled at for violating whatever someone's personal idea of a female is. (And it works both ways! Some attention-seeking personalities thrive off confrontation, and quietly downvoting and ignore those gets them off your theoretial front page faster than arguing with them in the comments.)
Hands down, the best parts of working in esports are the friendships and the joy I find in my friends' success. Here on the east coast, we had a pretty rag-tag group of gamers who have all put in so much passion and are now reaping the benefits of their hard work.
Trevor/TorcH went from Team 3D fanboy...to first foreigner on a Korean pro SC2 team...to global outreach manager for GSL...to League of Legends caster for OGN before my eyes!
Jason/CaptnBarbosa, the guy with the camera and racing game skills, shaped me into an on-camera personality and saved me from Ultimate Gamer elimination. He's moved to SoCal and got himself a job running game streams.
Neha/Rinoa, former DotA pro and now full-time Riot esports employee, taught me so much about the industry and was the first girl who really understood what I was going through trying to establish myself. To this day, we depend on each other for support and luff.
Rivington "The 3rd" I found sleeping in his car in NYC when he drove in to cast a WCG event at the Samsung Experience. Fast forward a few months, and you would think we'd been best friends all our lives. Sharing the LoL stage with my bosfon at IPL4 was hella symbolic of our simultaneous achievements.
Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez appeared in our jam-packed hotel room for PAX East years ago, then shortly after invited me to coach his Halo team, The Last Resistance. A couple MLGs and the death of Halo later, he's quit competing and instead become a messiah of the console shooter scene, determined to bring back an esports FPS.
There are players too, like MMA and CSN's own viOLet, who I met early on in Starcraft 2 and whose success is near and dear to my heart. These are the stories that give me faith in the future of the esports industry. I have seen people work hard and do what's right and be rewarded and then continue to work harder. I love my friends not only for our friendship, but for the love and respect they show the object of all our passion. So thanks, esports, for my killer entourage!
I don't like the idea of focusing on a single game... I'd like to keep covering as many esports as possible! The fighting game community is my favorite after SC2 and LoL though. Most of my early gaming friends post-TF2 were from the FCG. I met JWong and Marn in NYC years ago, visited Empire Arcadia's ARC twice (you'd think I'd have learned the first time), attended several GVN tourneys in Philly...and everyone is always super chill. Conversely, I know there have been issues with sexual harassment in the FGC, but I was pleasantly surprised by the community's comments and reactions to my recent fighter interviews.
I don't think this question gives fair representation to the diversity of ways fans experience their favorite esport. There are likely as many FGC fans who sit at their desks working quietly with a tournament on in the background as there are SC2 fans who roll their faces over the keyboard in streamchats. If you go to sites like EventsHub or SRK, there are discussions and memes similar to those found on TL or SCreddit. If we're trying to think of "what's best" then I propose we talk about how very similar all the esports communities are, especially from the perspective of non-esports fans.
Amongst ourselves, fans may argue about League being too easy or the FGC being too vulgar or SC2 being too much of a hivemind, but the differences are miniscule. The good groups will carry on and the bad groups will fall off, and all the angry posts in either direction will only scare off curious newcomers. I'm not saying don't speak out for what's right or anything, but I'm saying what's best for a community is positive, engaging discussion, not a big or small headcount.
League of Legends is truly on another level right now. Their free-to-play microtransaction model has pumped a buttload of capital into a very new, forward-thinking, and agile company. Riot has learned a lot from the Starcraft 2 community and the games that came before. It's thanks to a dedicated and experienced esports department that they have outpaced the competition. When SC2 and other games can match that kind of corporate commitment, the kind that embeds tournament streams in the game launcher and promotes its own pro players, then they will catch up, I think.
Since Trevor/TorcH first competed in the GSL in 2010, I've been to Korea 6 or 7 times and most of my adventures have centered around the esports scene there. It's a huge treat to visit the pro houses and enjoy the hospitality of the players and coaches (and the leagues, too!).
Jaeho, a Blizzard Korea employee and friend of ours, drove TorcH, The Gunrun, and I to DMZ, the de-militarized border between North and South Korea. Since Jaeho had already done his military service, he had a lot of interesting information to share while we explored North Korean tunnels, learned about the missiles trains on Seoul, and visited the abandoned train station that connects to Pyongyang. It was a history lesson I'll never forget.
There are lots of other places around Seoul that hold special memories too, like the Gom house where we stayed, Toi et Moi cafe where we were the pet white people, the hookah bar in Hongdae that we take all the foreigners to, and especially Namsan Tower. Azubu, the company behind OGN's The Champions LoL tournament, flew me and other journalists out to Korea and treated us to some excursions ending with a fancy dinner atop Namsan Tower. The food was incredible and the view from the rotating tower (1.75 hours for a full circuit!) over Seoul was breathtaking, but the most important part of the landmark was the tradition. Trevor and I, like thousands of Namsan visitors before us, bought a padlock and a little rubber tag and wrote some super sappy stuff to each other. Then we attached the tag and the lock to the fence surrounding the lookout and vowed to love each other forever and stuff. It was a beautiful moment. I promise.
I've been to some crazy places thanks to gaming, no doubt. My first international esports event though, before Trevor was a global cellphone game champ in China or either of us ever set foot in Korea, was Dreamhack Summer 2009. Trevor and I saved up for a 3-month backpacking trip around Europe, with Jonkoping along the way, and just went wherever the trains would go.
Ostersund in northern Sweden and Trondheim in Norway were beautiful with how late the sun stayed up and what a sunset did eventually look like. Also, in Trondheim, Trevor tried to drown me in the fjord and make it look like a fishing accident, so there was that. He just rended a little bathtub of a boat, drove us out into the black, churning water, pulled up the motor, and was like, "This is how we die!" Never trust a ginger.
Competitive gaming is where I'd like to stay. What I'm preparing for now, in my fantasy world, in the moment when global media can no longer ignore what we're doing. When the mainstream audiences want to watch esports and our tournaments are broadcast alongside wrestling or football, I still want to be there as the sideline reporter and hostess. And behind the scenes, I want to manage players, raise money for scholarships, research skill-building games for autistic children, and maybe even start my own pro house/reality show. I fear the mundane and the routine, but there's none of that when you work in esports.
This column is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.So you were a participant on WCG Ultimate Gamer Season 2; although you came in 6th place, you made the best of it and demonstrated how dedicated you were to what you love: gaming. How did the opportunity to be on that show come about, and what was the best part about it?
The first season of Ultimate Gamer, there were casting calls all over the PMS Clan forums. I dismissed them though because they called for Xbox gamers and, well, I was a member of the PC master race. Then the show came out and half the cast was people I knew. When I saw how well some of the PC kids did, I went out, got an Xbox, and me and my whole group of friends set to train for the season 2 casting call.
The show itself was a whole new level of insanity. One episode was 2 days of taping. Day 1 was the physical challenge, which meant waking up at 8 am, driving for 2 hours, sitting in the car for 2 hours (No talking about strategy!), hearing the rules, filming our "entrance" like 20 times, then taking a wild stab at whatever insane challenge they made up. One time we drove cars from a 3rd-person camera. Another time I got shot up with so many paintballs that I became a circus sideshow among production staff. Day 2 was the "Isolation Challenge" where played the actual games. After that, we'd find out who ranked first and last, then go back to the house for the drama-licious "Rooftop Elimination."
Between the challenges, and especially on the Sundays we'd have off, everyone just drank and acted wild. I could write a whole uninteresting essay on the the ridiculous tourble we got into. Good times. All my costars were awesome. with the exception of the kid who slept with all his clothes on and left hair gel gunk on my straightener. Kat Gunn, the season winner, is one of my best friends and I see her every time I'm in SoCal. Jake and I play a ton of League still, Faye actually works for Riot (and voiced the champ Lulu!), and at IPL 4, I shared the LoL stage with now-IGN caster A.J./HatPerson. Caesar does his Gears thing with his event Hypefestation, Yaz runs his company, and Chosen1 is about to release a gaming rap album. JWong is of course tearing up the FGC, and Vanessa is preparing for the release of Dead or Alive 5! So I guess the best part is that I got to keep all these guys as friends!
In the fall before I met Andrew, he was working with my best dude Rivington on a project. The only evidence of this is a garbled interview with SirScoots, and nothing else really came of it. CSN still needed some media though, so Andrew asked Riv if he knew anyone that could host regular content, especially any girls. Well, my good buddy mentioned me. By some odd chance, Andrew had also been playing some SC2 with TorcH, so in January of 2011, Trevor put us in a 3-way call.
We were out in Korea at the time, so I offered to give him a sample of my work and went out and did my first interview with Idra, with questions from Reddit. Andrew liked it enough to commission another round of interviews from PAX East in March, and those got me a trip to do more coverage at MLG Dallas. We met in person for the first time there and after a weekend of working together, he offered me a full-time position at CSN. Since then, CSN's media has been completely in my hands!
I think the aliases are one of the coolest things about our community. Much like sports franchises, alias set up an idea of an entity beyond any one person. A well-chosen name can inspire fear or curiosity or affection Admittedly, some players might want to reconsider their IDs before taking them to a bigger stage, but for the most part, I think it's easier as a fan to rally behind "BoxeR"or "The Rock" than "Lim Yo Hwan" or whatever The Rock's name is.
Sometimes I wish I had given my gamer tag more thought since I was more of a gamer and less of a media personality when I went with the bubbly, genderless "Seltzer." Mostly though, I think it's just right for me. And sometimes seltzer companies hit me up on Twitter so maybe I can turn it into a sponsorship!
I coached a Halo team, The Last Resistance, for 3 MLGs and came away from it with a deep appreciation for the competitive side of the game. No, they're not all refined pros and, yes, a great number of them need their moms to chaperone the weekend, but what's happening in these console tournaments is important. Xbox Live and Gamebattles is where a significant portion of kids in the past couple years have first experienced pro gaming. Rounding up some friends and piling into the minivan for a weekend of esports spectacle and free Dr. Pepper was probably an AWESOME memory for them, and as a result, they go again, or they watch the next one from home, and maybe the take a peek over at Starcraft or Tekken.
I really hope Halo 4 beings a console shooter back to MLG. All players should be welcomed. They pay their entry, they fill seats and boost numbers, and they don't really detract from anyone's experience. I don't understand why some fans exert so much energy on bringing down other games like Halo or CoD or League when all these games are doing is padding our combined forces.
The game must be balanced and intuitive, the pros must be able to demonstrate significantly advanced skill compared to the average player, and the fans must be able to watch it in an entertaining way. When I asked my friend Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert about CS:GO, all his complaints centered around game elements; the crosshair swing on snipers, molotovs, how certain guns felt.
These things are fixable, and some probably have been fixed already, but it's the game designers' overall attitude towards competitive gaming that matters. Call of Duty, for instance, loves the idea of their game as an esport, but they're not really interested in putting in the extra hours to facilitate spectating or create balanced game modes. I would be excited to see CS back on the circuit, but at this point, I'm ready for any PC FPS.
This is a terribly depressing question... No, I don't think the FPS genre will die off competitively! There are so many people sniffing around for the next big shooter; the one that's going to be balanced and fun and skill-based, without any weird glitches or careless coding. Every new title that makes it to alpha is put right under the microscope and the next to every other successful shooter to be compared. And we watch..and we wait...and then one day someone deletes all the hats and cat lasers from TF2 and I ascend into heaven on blu medi-beam to ubercharge the angels. Until then though, let's keep our fingers crossed for Shootmania.
See, I can't just choose one. I've already talked about a lot of the great friends I've made and the places I've been to. Every once in a while, on a stage or a flight, I stop and think, "How did I get here...?" and I feel like it's a special moment of awareness and appreciation and panic. On the IPL 3 stage in Vegas with djWHEAT, he offhandedly mentioned that we were where Britney Spears had performed, and I felt, like, super cool. On Ultimate Gamer, when I went to elimination against Vanessa, a girl who I'd written school papers about and looked up to, and I crushed her with my 4-wheel-drive Skyline, I felt pretty dominant. At the PPSL in the Philippines, I sat at a computer, mute with strep throat and dressed for prom, and modded the chat as the event fell apart around me, and thought cynically that it might be the lowlight of my career. It's been a crazy up-and-down-but-mostly-up ride, but the whole thing is a highlight. I couldn't be happier doing what I do.
At every stage of my life, I've had mentors and supporters who encouraged me to do more and think harder and be kinder. My parents gave me every opportunity I could ask for and my mom especially drove home the point that I could do whatever I wanted in life if I could make a career out of it (excluding porn, that is). When I met Trevor, he helped give direction to my energy. From the start, he and I were always plotting out inventions and timelines and assault tactics. Gaming together, we probably argue a bit too much, but that's because we favor very different strategies. Overall, we make a great team. And now that we work in the same industry, so we can share contacts, professional perspectives, broadcasting advice, and whatever else is needed! He even breaks out the real talk when I'm eating too many M&Ms or being an insufferable bitch, because sometimes someone just need to be told. So cheers to Trevor, for loving and inspiring me as well as keeping me in check.
Best and Most Famous Esports Journalist. I've already ordered the plaque!
Honestly though, I'd like to go on to grow esports and awareness of what I think are some of its best qualities: The fact that anyone, male/female/young/old/physically or socially disabled/homebound, can practice their way to greatness. The fact that competitive gaming, just like other extra curricular activities, teaches skill, respect, teamwork, and problem-solving (and can now lead to life-altering scholarship opportunities!). Even that, as "Reality Is Broken" author Jane McGonigal puts forward, the feeling of achievement earned in a virtual world can carry over long after the game ends and empower your real-life decision-making.
One day, when I'm an old lady, I'll sit in front of the TV watching Starcraft 7 matches and cawing about how when I was a girl, we used to have SOUNDPROOF BOOTHS and the players wore SWEATPANTS. And every once in a while a young college student or budding esports journalist will call me and ask timidly for an interview and I will bore them to death with stories of tournaments held in hotel ballrooms and whole events who couldn't get their broadcasts online. And they'll think, "How barbaric! Player made hundreds, not millions!?"
I think I've covered just about everybody I know over the course of this interview! My parents are always at the top of this list, for how generous they've been with their support and their basement. Trevor's parents too have put up with a fair amount of discomfort in the name of esports. Trevor, of course. Then there are my buddies Neha and Rivington and Barbosa and Goldenboy and my unicorn Anna and my Kitty Kat Gunn. There's djWHEAT, whose friendship and advice are indispensible. My friends at home, Kat and Danielle, who've endured my eccentricities since high school deserve props too. OH! And CSN's Andrew, for hiring me -- thanks for the faith, man. I hope I've lived up to expectations! Thank you guys for taking the time to interview me! I really enjoyed the questions, and I'm a big fan of the site -- see you around esports!
Posted 10 months ago: Sun, 15 Jul 2012 20:47:09 +0100
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