We get many questions by actively seeking job seekers in the esports world looking for career advice! So we chatted to the esports legend that is Paul Chaloner to get his advice on clutching your dream career.
Paul, you’ve been within the esports industry for over a decade now and obviously seen a large amount of change over the years. Within your career, how have you seen esports jobs and careers develop over the years?
I think the biggest change is that more and more roles are now paid, full time roles. When I first started in esports, roles were almost always unpaid. League operators, league managers, admins, observers, casters, all of these early roles were unpaid, amateur for-fun roles. Now, all of those roles are full time at various esports companies and publishers around the world. Alongside that you have a much deeper core of full time roles, where esports has grown both in monetary value and in size of companies they in turn have required more established and traditional roles like Human Resources managers, press and marketing officers, sales people and finance departments and then outside of companies people like lawyers, accountants and consultants, all specialising in esports. It’s quiet remarkable where we have come in the last 15 years.
The variety of esports careers is definitely great to see, so you think we are still at the beginning of esports, how do you see things changing?
In some ways I guess yes, when you compare it to other sports for example, we are still exceptionally young, still learning from our own mistakes and not always as professional as mainstream would like us to be. But in other ways I think we have grown enormously quickly over a very short period of time, faster than any other traditional sport. Take football for example which took decades to mature and only really in the last 20 years has it really grown to the size it is now. Formula One wasn’t always as well watched or followed and again matured in the last 30 years or so. So I think we have a lot to do still, but we should be hugely proud of how far the industry has come. As I’ve said before, never underestimate how much a small but passionate group of people can take something and make it great.
We work with companies that are both esports endemic and non-endemic. The interest of many organisations to get involved with esports this year has been huge! How have you seen the development of non-endemic brands getting more into esports over the years?
We’ve always had interest from non-endemics, even as far back as 2005 with MTV streaming the CPL World Tour and Mountain Dew sponsoring CGS in 2007, but it’s been very sporadic and not usually the larger companies like coca-cola or American Express which have both put money in to esports more recently. In the last two months alone we’ve seen Audi and Visa sponsoring teams for large 6 or 7 figure sums, so the interest is defintely there now and I think as more companies start to understand the industry, its complexities and it’s demographic, more will come.
That’s definitely one for people to take note of when looking for an esports career! Now, you have over 15 years of experience in broadcasting. You recently released your ‘Talking Esports’ book, a guide to becoming a world esports broadcaster, where do you see esports broadcasting heading within the next few years?
Onwards and upwards, more mainstream TV opportunities, more top end tournaments, but perhaps more importantly a lot more tournaments in tier 2 and 3 which also means more opportunities across the board for casters, hosts, interviews and observers, not to mention the staff in the broadcasting background like producers, sound engineers and vision mixers etc.
I guess the most important question we have to ask you is: what would your advise give for anybody looking to start or move into an esports career?
Understand your own skill set, be it what you can actually demonstrate you can do via experience or through education and then match that to a suitable role within esports. Like any industry it’s no good dreaming of being a commentator if you don’t have the prerequisite skills to achieve that goal, but instead perhaps you are a qualified accountant or at university studying vision mixing and production, in which case don’t waste time on the things you dream about but aren’t very good at and focus on what you are good at and apply it to esports. If your sole reason to get in to esports is because you think its easier than other industries though, you’ll be sadly mistaken. It takes hard work, dedication and a lot patience to get anywhere in any industry and esports is no different in that respect, even if the entry level appears to be much lower and more open.
Likewise, if you are looking at a role outside of your skill set or education, then get that education first, go to college, go to university and get the experience by offering to do part time or even free work to gain the experience you need to get a role. Don’t just do free work for the sake of it though, it’s all too easy to fall in to the trap of doing something because you love it and getting abused for free. Make sure you have an end goal to it or its easy to become disillusioned.
… and are there any scarifies that people should expect?
Yes, lots of them, especially for talent in esports, but also for those working broadcasts and events. Travelling sounds fun at first and it usually is, but remember it takes time and takes you away from friends and family. Be prepared to sacrifice that time if you want to get on in esports, especially event work around the world. It’s not as glamorous as it might seem from the outside. Esports is also very global, so you may need to move countries in order to get that dream job and that comes with a whole new set of things to cope with, language skills to learn, money issues, banking, doctors, dentists, even putting tax on the car because something much more stressful and difficult in a foreign place and you have to re-learn all the things you take for granted where you grew up and learned all of these simple things. In addition, you’ll likely be travelling a lot, so keeping on top of home affairs and trivial day to day life stuff becomes much harder. It’s easy with the work regiment to forget to look after yourself and take care of your mind and body too.
And finally, what are you most excited for in 2017?
Everything in esports! We’ve got a huge year ahead of us, another record breaking year in more ways than one. Outside of the usual events and teams competing i’m really interested to see what esports looks like a year from now with more investment, more mainstream tv coverage, more big names investing in teams and leagues and plenty more battles between organisations and associations. Esports never sleeps and it’s partly why I love it ‘Wink’.
We’d like to thank Paul for taking the time our of his busy scheduled to chat with us! Please be sure to check out CodeRed Esports, Paul is doing some amazing things over there. If you are looking for a career in esports, why not give us a shout? Pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or grab us on Live Chat!