The vainglorious Flushing, Queens native has found immense success in both hip-hop and the culinary arts. With wealth secured, he's now after health and happiness.
What was your first encounter with video games? Why the fascination?
When I was around 5, my mom started taking computer classes and she would bring home games on floppy disks. My little brother and I soon got our hands on a Nintendo 64 and a Playstation, but it was Crystal Caves on floppy and the Encarta Encyclopedia trivia game that I remember coming first.
Some general thoughts about being a female within a male-dominated space, and how things have gotten (hopefully) better in your experience.
More and more kids are growing up playing video games, regardless of gender, and we’re finally seeing a shift in the pro player populations as a result. This year, woman named Liooon won the Hearthstone Championship at BlizzCon and I handed first place AND MVP trophies to a young lady named Tina at Twitch Rival’s million-dollar Fortnite event at TwitchCon. I look forward to a time in esports when every dedicated player’s interest in a pro career can be explored without undue negativity.
Where or how did you and Marcus meet?
Marcus and I first really hung out in 2010, shortly after I had filmed WCG Ultimate Gamer. I had watched him on Championship Gaming Series and listened to him on Live on Three long before then, but the WCG Nationals were the first time we were at the same event and I had something worth talking to him about. Marcus has always been someone I’ve looked up to as a role model, but I definitely idolized him back then.
What impact has he had directly on your career?
So many impacts.
Before I met him, I saw his role in CGS and Live on Three, and was inspired by it. When we met, he treated me as an equal and I learned a lot about how I wanted to interact in the industry too. Interviewing him, I heard his story. Talking together, we shared values. Hanging out together, we brought our families together. When we hosted together, I saw his process and his professionalism and tried to copycat that too.
When he started at Twitch, he hired me to interview developers for E3’s and PAX’s. We ran hosting workshops and taught new talent and those talent all got hired to host things. Throughout, he’s been one of my very best friends.
Thoughts on the livestreaming phenomenon, and Justin.tv [JTV] spearheading it?
While it felt inevitable, the collision of esports and livestreaming really needed the extra magic from the Justin.tv team.
Around that time, UFrag never engaged the gamers it was chasing and Stickam and Ustream didn’t have any real identity as platforms. JTV had the right attitude when they came into the space: they respected the ecosystem, they engaged with everyone they could from players to tournament organizers to fans, and they came with a product that really blew up the scene.
Esports went from an audience of 200 in a hotel ballroom to a global online viewing and social experience.
Places you’d like to see esports or livestreaming in general go?
I love the competition of esports, but I also enjoy the entertainment possibilities that exist for gaming in general. I want Augmented Reality game boards and obstacle courses, YuGiOh-style TCG visualizations, and more structured streamer competitions like Stream On. Showcasing the individual personalities of gamers and streamers is my passion and with so many out there, the possibilities are endless.
Anything else you’d like to touch on?
There’s no doubt about Marcus’s impacts on esports and livestreaming and content standards for broadcasts at large…but I also want to shout out just how much one-on-one attention Marcus gives people.
Since I had the pleasure of first meeting Marcus a decade ago, he’s been a sounding board for some of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my career. He always found time to listen and to be sincere in his replies. I had looked up to him as a media figure for so long and then there he was sharing that wealth of experience with me, helping me make better choices and see things from new perspectives.
While I fancy myself a good friend of his, I know Marcus’s good will doesn’t extend to me alone. So many times, he’s sat down with people in roles big and small thoughout the industry and advised, commiserated, cheered, laughed, and cried with them.
As our industry grows, and as Marcus’s domains expand from esports and gaming into the wider worlds of streaming arts and culture, it’s a comfort to know that his ferociously positive influence spreads with it.