This week on the XLIVE Interview Series, we caught up with Saira Mueller, Managing Editor at Dot Esports. We spoke about a number of things from how she got involved in esports, trends and new developments in the industry, and what it’s like being a female minority in the Esports industry. Read her interview below!
When did you first get a love for the gaming industry?
I fell in love with the gaming industry at an early age. My brother and I asked for a Super Nintendo system for Christmas, but my parents bought us a PlayStation instead—since the first model had just been released. We were disappointed at the time because it had a limited range of games, but it got us hooked. Also, Pokemon and the Game Boy were huge when I was in middle school. I moved over to the PC master race in high school, when I started playing World of Warcraft.
At what point did you realize you wanted to get involved with Esports?
My interest in esports came from working as a reporter in the general games industry. That was two years ago, and after only three months I decided esports was where I wanted to be. I moved over to the Daily Dot’s esports team and haven’t looked back.
You have a lot of knowledge and insight into what has being going on within the video game industry. Can you talk a little about some of the new trends you are seeing come out of the growth and popularity of Esports?
Traditional sports teams investing in esports organizations and players has been the biggest trend of late. It’s great to see, and I hope leagues outside of the NBA and some European soccer clubs start looking into it seriously. Another trend that I’ve been following is the way game developers and publishers are connecting with Twitch and YouTube Gaming streamers to promote their products, rather than using traditional marketing campaigns. There’s a lot of reach in that world, and I think it’s still somewhat untapped.
With so many new types of live experiences and events emerging, how have you seen Esports affecting the live events Industry over the past few years?
Esports events dabbling with VR and holograms is really interesting to me. While the music industry has done it a bit, I think esports will really figure it out and make it more mainstream across various different live events. As to how the esports industry has affected the live events industry over the past few years, I’m not sure that it really has. Beyond filling arenas like the Staples Center and Madison Square Garden, which certainly captured the attention of the mainstream audience, I don’t think too many big live events organizers have taken a page out of the esports book yet.
The gaming industry has known to be predominantly male, but you and all of the other powerful women within this industry have been working real hard to change that. Can you touch on a couple of initiatives you have seen that are working to level the playing field within the Esports industry?
The competitive CS:GO scene is a decent example of women being welcomed to the esports industry. While there may not be that many women’s-only tournaments at the moment, at least they exist and they’re done tastefully. It’s also great to see them also competing in tournaments that are open to everyone. The fact that esports organizations, such as Dignitas/the 76ers and CLG, are investing in these teams and giving them the resources they need to succeed is amazing. I would love to see more of that, across every competitive title. AnyKey’s initiatives for inclusivity are also amazing, because the more welcoming everyone is, the more women will get involved beyond just spectating. It’s an issue that is very close to my heart.
With the thousands of subscribers to your publication, you probably have a nice insight into the demographics of the fan base. What would you say the typical Esports fan of today is like?
Haha. Well. The “typical” esports fan today is pretty much what you would expect, male and between the ages of 15-25. That is increasingly changing though. Just yesterday I read a report from an Esports Ad Bureau and Magid study that said women comprise nearly a third of the esports audience, and they could comprise a huge amount of esports viewership growth over the next year. It’s not surprising, but it’s great to have some solid numbers. I hope research firms do large-scale studies on the issue soon. It would also be great to have concrete numbers on women working in the esports industry, that percentage will be much lower I think—especially when you look at pro players. It’s great to see parents and the younger generations getting involved in esports too, I think that will increasingly happen with more non-endemic sponsorships.
Is there anything fun and exciting that you are currently working on that you can chat about?
I don’t have much time for writing these days, which is both good and bad. I miss it a lot sometimes, but it’s great that our reporters are keeping me busy. I have three interview stories in the works at the moment, one with popular Twitch streamer and YouTuber Jericho, one with Dignitas’ female CS:GO player artStar, and one with Twitch streamer JoeNeverFails—he was released from jail a few years ago and decided to start streaming, building up a loyal community in the process. All three should be fun articles, they’re all very personable people and have great backgrounds and stories that led to where they are today. There are also a few things in the works that I’m sworn to secrecy about, but you’ll see them around soon enough!
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