James “Jamesbot” Villar is a Rocket League caster and the human embodiment of the smiley face emoticon. The Game Haus’ Connor Sanders spoke with him about how to get into the esports industry and the impact it’s had on his life. If you prefer to listen to the interview instead of reading the transcribed version, the audio will be available at the bottom of the page.
Connor Sanders: So, I wanted to talk to you about getting into esports, and first I wanted to know why do you think the esports industry is worth getting into in the first place?
Jamesbot: Well, that’s a tough question. A lot of times, it’s not. It’s not something I would advise somebody to try to go all in on at this point. There’s some times where it works out for people going all in to make esports work, but my personal experience was not that. I’ve seen people get really burnt out trying to do that. And so my advice to people would be to treat it as a hobby and gain experience. Then you never know what opportunuities might come out of the woodwork. So I was working full time for a furniture company on their technology product development team, when my big opportunity broke. But I had done stuff in communities for free just to gain experience for a long time just because I enjoyed it. There’s a lot of things people can do to take advantage of opportunities should they come up.
CS: Tell me about your big opportunity and how that changed your life.
JV: I was lucky to be a first grouper in Rocket League casting. I helped CloudFuel with RLC and I did all that casting for free. I didn’t really expect anything of it. Just doing my part to help this volunteer organization that was doing a great thing. I was lucky because Psyonix and Twitch decided to not only partner to put on the RLCS, but they also decided to source talent from the community, which is generally pretty rare. They could have easily gone with other established casters from other games, but that’s not what happened. Twitch and Goldenboy specifically was a huge part of that decision. So I owe him a great deal. He was the reason why I got the opportunity to do this and why I’ve been able to get into Twitch today. He was the front end of that whole process.
CS: When you first started working in esports, what did you think was gonna happen? What did you foresee and how has that matched up with your expectations?
JV: There was always a thing in the back of my head, like what if this game becomes really popular? I wonder what would happen. But I never really imagined it blossoming into what it is today. When I got started with CloudFuel, I knew we could be the number one community esports group for Rocket League because I had a bunch of experience running productions. Cloud assembled a top notch team to make these broadcasts happen, so I knew we could be doing something special and we did. But I never really imagined it would actually get to this point.
CS: When people think of working in esports I imagine they think of either casting or playing the game. What other roles and opportunities are there within esports?
JV: I mean a lot of this is just like any business. You have to have people to do administrative work, people doing travel schedules. People doing graphic design or photography, project management. There’s so many options to get involved. If you are good at anything, literally any kind of task or service, there’s a good chance that an esports organization that can use your help. So just reaching out and trying to see if there’s anything that an organization needs and you have skills that align, that’s great. You could potentially get involved with esports that way.
CS: What has being in esports taught you about yourself? What have you learned from your time working esports?
JV: I had some struggles with anxiety early on back in Season 2 and I had never had to go through personal adversity like that before. It was something that I had never struggled with in the past that all of a sudden dominated my life for a short period of time. It really helped me grow as a person because normally, like if I wasn’t in esports I probably wouldn’t be a public speaker. I wouldn’t be up in front of people talking. I didn’t really enjoy that too much. I enjoyed talking to small groups and educating people on stuff, and talking about things I’m passionate about but never really up in front of a ton of people. I more like the personal nature of small groups. [Working in esports] really helped me grow in that sense and then also it helped me gain a broader perspective on getting things done and making things out of nothing…
A lot of people aspire to do things, but never do it. You can run an entire tournament by yourself, we see Johnnyboi_i do it all the time. Esports had helped me feel like I can deliver a vision even if it’s an esports product, it’s helped me get a good idea of what it takes to complete a project and do it well and meet deadlines and stuff like that. It’s just a fun time. I like working with people who do stuff.
CS: If you could tell someone who is interested in getting into esports, “Hey, this is where you need to start,” What would you tell them?
JV: What I would first want to know is what their vision is. In their perfect world what is them being in esports look like to them? There’s people’s expectations of what esports is and then there’s the reality of it. The reality is with a lot of stuff that you’re going to be doing will be similar to working in any other place. If you’re good at being a writer or a graphic designer or so on and so forth. I would encourage people to just start getting involved. Try to take into account what skills you have and what you can bring to the table and see if that lines up with what any orgs are looking for and getting involved in any way possible.
If you want to work for Twitch or a game developer or something like that, that’s a very real way to be involved with esports… I would suggest going to college, getting a business degree or getting a programming degree or something. Get a degree and try to apply to one of these companies. If you can start getting relevant experience. If you get project management experience then you might be able to join in esports or a video game company as a project manager. There’s a lot of opportunity at game companies and at companies like Twitch.
If you’re interested, you should go to those websites and look at the job listings and look at what kind of experience they’re looking for. Start trying to build up your experience so that you’ll be a qualified candidate. There’s a few different routes.
Here’s the audio for those interested in the interview via podcast form. There’s also some extra stories that didn’t make the transcribed portion:
Featured image courtesy of The Players’ Lobby
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