I recently realized my perspective on Esports has always been a unique one. I’ve been able to experience Esports from a perspective that makes it a serious topic to me. Even among the numerous other Esports professionals I have met, I know my real day to day life and experiences are vastly different.
I am not able to enjoy the niceties that it seems others within the industry do. I’m not able to just get caught up in the surface-level-fun of gaming.
I don’t get the pleasure of just thinking about the gaming aspect of the industry because I know young men that have taken their girlfriend’s tax return to piece together videography equipment, so they can risk their lives to do music videos for other young men (that have decided a microphone is their only avenue to do something productive) who are waving guns in every video because they think it’s a cheat code to get more views, comments and likes on social media.
These same young men are charging $400 dollars for videos that they are directing, shooting and editing (within a week) while using a beat up Mac that can’t even handle the 4k footage that their camera can produce. They are smoking weed heavily because they see it as the source of their creativity and it serves as their medication that helps them suppress their depression and stay encouraged in lieu of the feeling that they aren’t successful because- their equipment is beat up, they are barely keeping gas in a car (that they borrow from their grandma), and they are living out of a book bag as they bounce from homeboy, girlfriend, hotel or studio from night to night.
Often they resort to selling weed when life happens, such as – car needing repairs, hard drive crashes, equipment breaks or they need a ticket to attend a Rolling Loud concert because they think they’ll be able to catch some magical footage of their favorite artist and be catapulted into financial and mental freedom overnight.
These are young men that have found something outside of crime to believe in, but have been exempt from real economic empowerment because of their vernacular, skin color, and the style of clothes they consider fashionable.
They have no formal training. Their training came in the form of watching Youtube videos. Videos they could only access by leeching off the wifi from the corner gas station, on an android phone with a cracked screen. Their diet is shit because they rely on their favorite dollar menu to get them through the day. They periodically stop by a family member’s house to get what is considered “a real meal.” In all honesty these meals still negatively impact their health, but they don’t realize it because they have never had any dietary education, nor do they have the income to support anything else.
So when I talk diversity and inclusion I’m also thinking of a segment that my peers aren’t even aware of. I’m not just throwing out press release worthy phrases. Many in this industry speak of diversity and inclusion but then act as bias gatekeepers when real inclusive opportunities present themselves.
I actually see real faces, that are connected to real lives, that are really in need of opportunities that can economically empower them and help mend their poor mental health.
Some hear “opportunities in Esports” and they think of their kid that doesn’t eat their veggies and isn’t making their bed when asked… while I’m over here thinking of the ones that are trying to avoid incarceration, addiction and an early grave.
Their clock is ticking, that’s why my patience is short when it comes to culture vultures, dead-end opportunities, fake inclusion, selective diversity, or economic exclusion.