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Self-Help - What is eSports and How to Become a Professional Gamer? - Liam Brown (eSports Executive) E113

Self-Help - What is eSports and How to Become a Professional Gamer? - Liam Brown (eSports Executive) E113

Liam Brown (eSports Executive)

When I grew up, I wanted to be an astronaut. But kids of today want to become professional gamers and influencers. But are these legitimate career paths? In this episode we explore valuable insights into the eSports industry, showcasing how it has transformed from a pastime into a legitimate career path with potential benefits for players beyond the gaming world. It encourages listeners to consider the broader impact of gaming and eSports in today's evolving landscape.

👉🏽 eSports as a Viable Career Choice: eSports has become a legitimate career choice, with professional gamers earning substantial prize money.

👉🏽 Transferable Skills: Communication, teamwork, and strategic thinking are crucial in eSports, and these skills can be applied in various professions beyond gaming.

👉🏽 Opportunities for Diversity and Inclusion: Women in Esports campaign and women's-only tournaments are helping bridge the gender gap in the industry, making it more inclusive.


Liam Brown (eSports Executive)

Liam Brown is a seasoned esports executive who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about the eSports industry. With a background in player recruitment, management, sponsorships, and brand building, Liam has a deep understanding of the competitive esports landscape. His insights and strategies are invaluable to both fans and commercial professionals looking to break into the rapidly growing esports market. He is head of branding at the Knights eSports team.

⚡️ In each episode, Paddy Dhanda deep dives into a new human Superpower and gives practical advice on how you can apply it immediately.

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[00:01:00] Paddy Dhanda: Dear friend, thank you for joining us for another episode of the Superpower School podcast. I'm your host, Paddy Danda, if you're a bit like me, and you had a fascination growing up for gaming, then have I got a dream guest for you. I have the Corporate Partnerships Manager for Knights Esports over in America.

I have Liam Brown with me today. Hey Liam, how you doing?

[00:01:24] Liam Brown: Hi Pardeep, great to be here.

[00:01:25] Paddy Dhanda: I can already see on the video you've got like these cool little gaming controllers behind you. Tell me more about some of those, I bet there's a story behind those.

[00:01:36] Liam Brown: So when you look at technology peripherals, this is something that I always like to say to people.

There's always a way to make a buck in everything that you see. So this guy, I met him actually in where we were talking about the Transformers convention and over at BotCon in New Jersey. And what he has developed is a way for you to take grips and basically put them on your controllers so that it trains you to be more exact when you're playing.

And then also there's different weights and magnets you can put on them to add resistance. So, one thing he was bragging about was that he's already been banned from a couple of different fighting game competitions, like in the FGC, because it adds so much...

performance enhancement to his ability. So, you know, in, in existing in a space, I got to stay up to date with a lot of this stuff. And I go to a Transformers convention, expecting cool comic books, artwork, toys, and then I see this and I was just like, what is this? So, But yeah, that's where my travels take me.

Everything turns into work with me because I try to find the tie in with non endemic brands or endemics like in this space. So everything kind of turns into a, okay, I gotta take a screenshot of this. So if you were to look at my phone library, like on my, all my pictures, it's mostly screen records and screen captures of like cool commercials I saw.

Cause I'm just like, yeah, I should reach out to those guys cause there could be something cool here. But that's like a little bit about my, some of my tchotchkes back here.

[00:03:01] Paddy Dhanda: Also, you sound like you've got a dream job. There's so many aspects, I think that, sound amazing the way you've integrated all this stuff into your work.

So then for. This episode, what superpower would you like to bring?

[00:03:13] Liam Brown: Probably the ability to bring people together, specifically on the stage of gaming and esports. That's one thing that I've really been about, and I think that as a passion has, or as a superpower, has really driven me towards this field in particular.

And it's why I believe in it so much.

[00:03:31] Paddy Dhanda: Wow, and for anyone out there that doesn't know what esports are we're gonna jump into that as well in a moment. Because I think unless you've got kids, it sometimes is an area that you may not have heard of. But it's certainly getting very popular at the moment.

And I'm sure Liam's going to tell us all about that as well. But Liam, how did you get into this? You know, are now making a career out of games and gaming sounds like a dream job, but was this something you dreamt of as a kid or did you get into this through some other avenue?

[00:04:04] Liam Brown: I did get into this in some other avenue that you're exactly correct.

You know, I found this relatively late into my time at university. So I'm a university of Pittsburgh alumni. I changed my major like. Four or five separate times. I changed my career path six or eight times when I was in university. And it was through the COVID 19 pandemic that I really found that e sports and gaming was the one conversation that did not stop because while it, like many other industries took a hit.

It would still allowed for people to come together on a common platform and interact with each other, make new friend groups, keep existing friendships in play engage in that varsity sports experience in a COVID compliant environment. And I was, I had always had a background as a gamer. I've been gaming actually since I was around eight years old with my dad.

Actually, which not a lot of people can say, and I've always followed esports because I always like to see like new industries coming in to change everything. And what esports allows a lot of brands to do is to have just kind of inject a main line of communication directly into that. 18 to 35 ad blocking, cord cutting, high income audience.

And I saw that from early on, and I just always kind of stuck with it. So then when I found that eSports was really something that I was passionate about, by the time I found that it was, is around like. The like halfway through my senior year at university, not the most ideal time to pick up a new career, but I had a certain skills skill set for creating relationships and again, bringing people together.

So I started learning as much as I could. I started becoming a force for change at my university. I was able to plant the seeds for my university to start to begin their esports transformation, which they have now moved in on. I just found out this past weekend and. I was also able to find out that a professional esports organization was based in my same city, and I did what nobody should do, and I put all my eggs in one basket, and I took a big manila envelope, I put my resume that I rewrote like five times, and my cover letter I rewrote a bunch of times, a white paper that I had written about esports and some of its global implications, as well as a couple of face masks University of Pittsburgh face mask.

I went to their their offices, because we're an organization that works closely with the Steelers pirates and Wiz Khalifa and his Taylor gang. And our offices were located at that time in the same Steelers offices. We were just down the hall. So I talked to security guard and I was like, Hey, I have mail for the CEO.

And she was like, yeah, it's up there on this floor. And then I walked in and nobody was in the office. And I was, my heart sank. I went to the Steelers and there was one person in the offices, and she was one of the heads of marketing. And I asked her, Hey, can you drop this off? And she was like, yeah, they're still getting their mail.

And then a week later, I ended up getting a call back. And... In my first conversation with James O'Connor, who is our president and CEO, who is, if anybody knows anything about eSports, he's a really big figure in CSGO. He was one of the first people to coach a North American CSGO team to the World Finals, and he did it four times, and he was the first person to ever do it for any North American team.

And I ended up talking with him, and if you were to... Like in eSports to the Mafia, okay, now stick with me here, he would be one of the people who has a seat up at the table because he's been in this from the competitive stance for 20 years, 20 years or more, and he's really been here at the founding, so he named different figures that I had, I know about, and he was like, yeah, I have their phone numbers, like I know these people, and he's It was just crazy.

So we talked for like an hour and a half and that ended up being what I didn't know was my first interview. And then I went through the traditional, like the other interviews to gain a position here. And that's really how I found e sports by going in and chasing what I was passionate about. And what I'm really passionate about is bringing people together.

And one of the closest things that I can do that with is with e sports and gaming. So. That's really how I found my path. It's an unorthodox way. I didn't go in wanting to be a professional player or a content creator. I didn't want to work in game design. I just wanted to stick with what I had learned.

[00:08:48] Paddy Dhanda: That's fascinating. And, when I was growing up, gaming was a big part of our entertainment because back then we didn't have the internet showing my age now, didn't have many of the gadgets that we have now, but we did have consoles and games consoles, and it was a nice escape from daily grind.

And but obviously when we were growing up, we didn't have. So professional gamers back then and it was more just You know we would go to each other's houses as friends and we'd just

[00:09:20] Liam Brown: Play. Yeah. And you would just have land parties at each other's houses, right?

[00:09:23] Paddy Dhanda: Yeah. Or exactly.

You'd be in the arcades and you'd see like someone who's really good on the machine, and then you'd be like, oh, I've gotta beat their score. Yeah. And that's the sort of level of competitiveness that we would have but nothing quite as grand as, you know, a whole kind of competition that's hosted and there's prizes and all that kind of stuff.

So could you explain for anyone who. Hasn't heard of eSports, like how did it all begin and how big is it now? Because I hear it's huge.

[00:09:52] Liam Brown: You can argue that the mainstream development of eSports really began with CSGO, Dota, and World of Warcraft. Because these were... MMORPGs, you know, are a huge followings and they allowed for people to engage in competition when they wanted, but also allowed people to have that simplistic, my own sort of single player experience where I'm able to enjoy it without fear of getting absolutely demolished by somebody who's better than me.

So they played a really cool role there. And. From that, we also learned of a revenue model that exists in gaming with different smaller purchases. So like CS go is a really good example for this because you can utilize real world dollars to purchase different in game items and trade with other people.

So there are people that have hundreds of thousands of real world dollars in game items for CS go alone. So you can kind of trace the competitive representation back to there and. In the grand scheme of things, we are the fastest growing industry to have come out of the 2000s and the late 90s.

And, you know, as a result, like it's caused a lot of like really positive attention to come to this space and it is allowed for different people to reach out to a completely unreachable and very hard to target audience group in like the gamer, or you could also argue just the millennial and Gen Z because, You guys.

These are people that are, you know, they're as I just mentioned, like they're ad blocking, cord cutting, they're higher income they exist on different platforms, but they just want to get back to the things that they enjoy. And gaming is one of those. So. As far as it's relative size and scale, you know, we're, I think we're on track to hit like another billion in the next couple of years.

But one thing that I always go back to is every, it, the competition that exists on the esports developer side is massive. So you look at these different games, let's say Valorant for example has over 25 million active players. per month. You look at Minecraft and Roblox.

They have over 115 million active players per month. So you quantify those and their entire, each game exists as its own ecosystem because a lot of them follow that freemium model that we were just talking about with CSGO. You know, you can participate, but you can also pay to like do customizable skins.

You can buy and buy and sell, trade different items with other players. So when you have so many different developers, for the player's attention and their long term attention, you know, then it starts to, then you start to see, oh, wow, the, this is huge. I hope that's my verbose way of answering your question of like, how big is all this and kind of where the origins are.

No, that really does

[00:12:50] Paddy Dhanda: start to put things in perspective and CSGO stands for Counter Strike global offensive. Yeah.

[00:12:55] Liam Brown: Yeah. It's they only recently came out with the sequel for the title, but it's, and a lot of influence from the past comes into now. A lot of people talk about how Valorant.

Is a more family friendly version of CS go, you know, they don't have like terrorists, like those kinds of team vernacular in it. They don't have a bomb. They have the spike, they have different playable characters with superpowers instead. And that's one of the ways Valorant I feel has been able to kind of dominate the first person shooter side of competitive e sports currently.

And it's, you know, I'm also biased because our team has, is very uniquely suited within e sports. And we could get into this, but we are strategic partners with the Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends Valorant, and also Project L, which I can't wait for. And from that, we've been able to take more of a leadership position in this industry as not only somebody, not only a team that has competitive representation in several different titles, we also have the influencers, but Also, we're the only eSports team in the world to regularly run and host our own events.

We have our own entire events and tournament management armed to our organization, which you can't really say. A lot of teams just do teams. And a lot of events, tournaments, organizers in eSports just do that. You know, and we're also like a tech developer with some of the guys over at Discord and making sure that everybody can hop in.

To a session with their friends, whatever they want. So like we can get into this more but the team that I chose to be a part of it's very logical. Be with the Knights from my standpoint, because we're doing so much and we're also doing so much to bring people together because we allow for amateurs and pros to come onto our events and just consistently win prizing.

Or to better start their professional career. So like we host amateur events all the time. We allow people to earn their stripes in both like, Valorant teams or even women's only teams in Valorant, Rocket League, Apex, like all of these different gaming titles.

[00:15:06] Paddy Dhanda: It's fascinating because I had no idea about this side of gaming. I mean, I've heard of e sports, but I just assumed it was a bunch of people that get together and go, Hey, shall we form a team? And they go, yeah. And then they start playing or enter into a competition, I've got a young child, well, two, two young children I should say. Yeah. I shouldn't be sexist here because my, I have a daughter and a son although my son is the one who's probably the biggest gamer in the family, but all of a sudden, You know, he talks about becoming a professional gamer and I get worried and I'm like, that's not a job for any parent who has that situation.

What's your perspective on that? Like, is professional gaming now a real career choice for

[00:15:51] Liam Brown: people? Yeah, and one of the things that I always go back to is at the Fortnite World Championships, I think, what is his name, Duga, he was 16. And won the Fortnite World Championships, and his prize money was officially in the millions of dollars.

And he was the first person to win the Fortnite World Championships. And... He was 16. So it is a very real possibility from the competitive standpoint for anybody to get in and now one of the One of the advantages that traditional sports had on eSports was the fact that there was A path to pro environment present at all times there were, you know, you're in the U.

K. There. I'm sure there's all bunch of youth football clubs from primary to high school and then even into university and the same thing over here. You know, you had a bunch of different Baseball camps for elementary in the summer, even club, and one thing that has changed a lot in recent years is with NASIF and NASE.

So NASIF is the National Association for Scholastic Esports Federation, which primarily deals with middle school and high school. age people who want to get into e sports. And then NACE is National Association for Collegiate e sports. So over here, in the States, when the NCAA didn't want anything to do with e sports, they handed it over to NACE, which, thank God.

Thank God. But So now that path to pro environment from the academic side exists now. So that people can go on to, first off, get full ride scholarships to university. Being professional gamers, they can study in relevant majors to eSports through different like eSports majors, certification programs that exist in every age group, and then they can go on from there to try out for different teams and there's so many different avenues to Try out for different teams, but it's another example of sticking with the grind and those lessons of delayed gratification and repetition of basic skills that are fundamental in everyone's life path and those same lessons.

Can be learned in eSports as well. The one thing that, that I hope to bring to that development of the next generation of eSports professionals is also the balance of life and your health and wellness. One thing that, that we see in, and that you probably as a parent have a concern of for your children is that they need to understand the contract negotiation, ensure that they are being best represented and best paid for their talents.

And then. They also need to make sure that they are still existing in a balance and making sure that their health, their sleep is dialed in. Sleep is its own superpower once you get it regular and in a routine. Once you break that routine, it's detrimental to your success. While making sure that physical activity and the nutrition avenue is well taken care of.

I've read the research and that's one thing that I brought to the Knights. I've looked at the research and found that when there is a nutritional and fitness intervention into an eSports player, Players daily life, their performance in the game skyrockets by, you know, double and single digits. So what we've got to look at is how to elevate this space and making sure that the players have that path to pro environment.

They're making sure that there's a balance and making sure that they look at this as a way to get to the next level. Once they operate at the next level, they don't coast and they are constantly looking at the self optimization that's really That would be my advice to you, really. And maybe one, I could take it a step further in saying like, Hey, with whatever setup they have, whether your son and daughter, whether they game on console or on PC, make sure that they're on a treadmill whenever they're doing it.

That's something that is going to boost their focus because what one thing that I've learned from a lot of competitive sports is that when you're in movement and have to process many different things while in movement, that is really good for your brain to kind of flex the muscle of concentration and processing multiple different things.

So your reflexes get better. It's one of the reasons that, like, athletes have such good reflexes, because they're in movement and they have to process so many different bits of information. In eSports, you could say, okay, I am walking at this speed, I've gotten in this many steps, whatever, but I'm also having to process all the different things going on the screen.

So, that's one thing that I do whenever I game. I have a treadmill that's right over there that I that I always walk on whenever I'm... Whenever I game so that's one thing that I would say that I would tell that a few steps of advice that I would give Yeah

[00:20:38] Paddy Dhanda: Never thought of it that way. I mean, I just pictured professional gamers in a darkened room playing computer We

[00:20:45] Liam Brown: turn the lights on now.

That's one thing that's changed We started doing that last year

Because it's flashy it looks good Yeah, you know, and you look at any eSports gym that's opening up or eSports arena that's opening up and they all had those same fluorescent lights. One thing that's really cool about the lighting setup is that it increases the immersion in the game. So there's a lot of people, you can go on Amazon and purchase these for super cheap, but you can connect it to your monitor so that the light and the background to your screen changes in in synchronicity with the action that's going on.

So. And also, like, LED lights just look super cool. Yeah. I'm off of that, I'm off of that Tron legacy, Tron aesthetic with, like, all the cool neon and stuff like that.

[00:21:33] Paddy Dhanda: And so, a professional gamer obviously has to practice playing the games. On average, how many hours would they practice a day?

[00:21:42] Liam Brown: Six to eight.

Just playing the game in question. And then, that could be in scrimmages with other players. One big thing that we always need to focus on is the fundamentals. So, so your aim, movement in the game. And just like when just like say, the most athletic team with poor talent will overtake the team.

That has all the talent, but less athleticism. That's something that I have from a tennis background. That's one of the reasons that my old tennis coaches would always run us through sprints and stuff like that is because when you focus on the basics and the fundamentals of your skill set it's very instrumental in your growth.

So six to eight hours of not only doing scrimmages with other players, other teams in the game and practicing in the game, but also practicing your aim with a resources such as aim labs. Aim labs is one of the biggest Training tools utilized by the pros because you're it's literally just you, the mouse, and you're just aiming at dots on the screen, and it's it is a huge rush when you're able to score 85.

All right now, 95 now 100. And the highest score I ever saw was 145. And that's from a former CS go pro. So focusing on that and then focusing on movement in the game. This particularly pertains to first person shooters such as Apex Legends, Call of Duty Valorant. If you can focus on being accurate and being able to move around and not be shot.

You will be able to hone in your skills and shoot that enemy target. So that's going to be around six to eight. And then you need to break it up with time spent either outdoors, physical activity, and making sure that the blue light is at minimum exposure. So one of the things that we've done is, you know, one of the, one of the companies that we work closely with is any optical, they have a huge line of like.

blue light blocking glasses. So we do giveaways with them all the time, and all of our players have zenny blue light blocking glasses to make sure that they are able to focus in on the fundamentals when they're training and they're able to, they're able to physically. Turn it off. And what I mean is turn off the setup and also take off the glasses and get away from the setup.

And, you know, that the blue light isn't still messing with their brain when they try to put their head down to sleep or things like that. And they're not

[00:24:01] Paddy Dhanda: just wearing these cool looking glasses to look like... You can

[00:24:03] Liam Brown: wear, no, I mean like they're, I like, I mean, I like their glasses. So like, yeah, you can just wear them like universally, but it also helps to get into a habit now that I have the glasses on.

It's time to train, and then I take them off, I'm gonna take a step back.

[00:24:19] Paddy Dhanda: What makes a really good game? I mean, there's Oh man. There's tons of games out there, right? Yeah. In a moment, I am gonna ask you for your favorite game of all time. Dude,

[00:24:29] Liam Brown: You can't tell me that right as Shadow, like, Fires of Rubicon just came out and I haven't even gotten to play it.

And like, Warhammer, the new Warhammer game hasn't even come out yet and I haven't even gotten to play it. But, those two are probably going to be my favorites in the future. But, as far as, like, a really good game... As far, I can't answer that question. I can tell you what makes a good eSports title and what makes a good eSports title is a few things in no particular order of importance.

So one of the things is going to be constant maintenance. So whenever somebody has questions, there needs to be or they're running into problems, you need to have support on them, making sure that they not only feel supported, but also so that the problem is fixed within the day. within the day or within a few hours.

And constant maintenance also falls under the category of new things, new stuff coming out, new maps being developed, new characters and new skins, new collectible items. So that people constantly have something to show for their performance in the game, one. And two, they're not bored. You don't want the players to be bored.

The boredom is, that's cancer. That's the worst thing. And another thing is going to be organization. So what do I mean by that? When I say organization, there has to be a clear and concise competitive strategy. And Schedule an organization of what teams and how they qualify, when they qualify, what geography is going to be competing against who, okay, when that, when they conclude, how do you take that on to the world championships?

Is there more steps? What times of the month or the year is this happening? So like, I'll give you an example. We work closely with Riot Games. We are a big fan of why just sponsor a team when you can run the entire league. Why just have one slice of the pie when you can have the whole pie? So we ran the entire competitive scene for all of North America in the form of the Valorant Challengers League for North America in this past year.

So the Valorant structure is that You compete in your continent's Challengers League and then you go on to go against another continent and then you go on from that to the Premier League. So for North America, how it goes down is you qualify, a lot of teams can qualify for open spots, but other teams that have proved their worth are just invited.

Then they all duke it out, then the winners of that go against South America, and then the winners of that go on to the Premier League. So while that took a lot of words for me to explain, it's still a simple, it's still a relatively simple structure, right? There's Open Qualifiers, there's Split 1, Split 2, then there's the Playoffs, and then there's also the Ascension Tournament.

But that's really it. So, making sure that there's a structure in place for the, not only for people to go and compete, but also for the fans to watch. And also making sure... The third thing that's really crucial is making sure that the content or the accessibility of the professional side is within view of everybody.

If you can make sure that your live events are being hosted on all different platforms and people can find them more easily, it's going to be better for your game because not only people want to play it, But once they see it, oh, I cannot tell you how many games I have seen clips of and immediately I go to the comment section of the video to see what game it is.

Just simply because I liked what I saw. So, Those three characteristics make a really good e sports title.

[00:28:02] Paddy Dhanda: My son for a while had this fascination with fortnight and I only knew about fortnight because of him because he used to Constantly be pestering me to buy new skins and yeah, you can do that. And Then he's got into the Oh god, what's the car racing game where you have a big football?

You mentioned it. Oh, Rocket League? Rocket League.

[00:28:25] Liam Brown: Yeah. Good game. Good game. It's used, Rocket League is also being used by a lot of colleges and universities physics departments to visualize different examples of principles that are taught in physics. So, it's used in a ton of different classrooms.

[00:28:39] Paddy Dhanda: I thought it was really good because he and I used to play as a team and there's so much collaboration going on, right? Yeah. Dad, now you need to do this. And I was totally useless at the game, but, you know, if you have the right player, I'm sure he would have been strategizing with his team mate as well.

[00:28:57] Liam Brown: That's also indicative of the lessons to be learned in e sports communication is key as a team. And when you're able to, in those split seconds, be able to. Transfer the maximum amount of information in as few words as possible. That is instrumental to your success in this field, and that's also something you can take, you know, brand building, social media management communication there's a bunch more skills that I could say that all can be learned in esports.

And in any competitive stage. But you imagine the, what is, what comes after the competitive era of your life in esports? Well, a lot of these guys will continue to play until they end up going for a team management or coaching position. They might try to be leaders in the space as well, establish their own teams.

They might go on to be content creators and provide valuable info for the audience. Doing like analysis and hosting watch parties. They might go into a corporate position because they have a very valuable background and are able to consult. endemics and non endemics in the tech space for you know, what is the viewpoint of e sports and they are a true representation of that.

So you look at the skills that are learned and if you play your cards, right, you can port those skill sets to a lot of different. Avenues so that you're not like in traditional sports, injuries can kill your career. But in this, you know, instead of dealing mainly with physical injuries, I mean, we do have a really bad problem with like posture and carpal tunnel and those kinds of things, but and burnout, but you can still take those skills and port them over to a.

A lot of different industries. So, I mean, you know, you bring up a really good example of communication there.

[00:30:40] Paddy Dhanda: So I've also got a daughter and she seems to be really into some of the games like Tale as old

[00:30:47] Liam Brown: as time. Tale as old as time.

The two kids are interested in completely different gaming titles. Yeah.

[00:30:52] Paddy Dhanda: Yeah. And so. Are you seeing now more females coming into gaming? Because when I was a kid, I can't really remember any of my female classmates. Ever talking about playing computer games, but yeah now I am seeing a shift in that like Even in some of the teams.

Do you see a much more diverse crowd or is it still male dominated do you think? Yeah,

[00:31:17] Liam Brown: I mean One of the reasons that is male dominated is just because gaming historically has attracted such a wide male audience And that's purely one of the reasons. So then if it attracts a male, a lot of the younger male audience, they're gonna be the ones playing the game more.

They're gonna be the ones having the larger skill set in that game. Then when they go on to be become pros, they have such a wide array of experience under their belt in comparison to some females in the space that may they may have a couple of years Under the skill set, and that's one of the biggest reasons I find but there is a lot of female competitive representation going on.

So what, I'll give you another example, like with our live events, we have an entire, and our organization as a whole, we have like an entire campaign called the Women in Esports campaign. Where we, you know, we do lectures, we have internships in gaming for targeted specifically towards women in corporate that want to either port over to eSports or come into the space.

And another part of that is going to be our women's only tournaments, then to provide that kind of path to pro experience that primarily existed for the rest of eSports, but it also allows for women's teams in Rocket League, Apex Valorant. To earn their stripes on a professional competitive stage and go on to have that experience.

So. I know, just from what I've seen and participated in, that the field is changing. I just want to make sure that everybody, again, bringing people together is a big passion of mine. I'm just making sure that everybody is able to enjoy this as a pastime. Whether you like Roblox, or you like... Minecraft or whatever gaming title you choose, you know, you can also make a huge judgment call based off of what gaming title you primarily play with, you know, so, yeah, I think the field is changing.

A lot more women are coming into it.

[00:33:15] Paddy Dhanda: That's good to hear. And talking about changing A. I. Is upon us. Is this that you think A. I. Will disrupt in any way? Or do you think eSports is here to stay and that human side is here to stay.

[00:33:33] Liam Brown: Well first off, AI has existed in gaming from a, possibly has had one of the biggest roles to play in gaming for so long because you look at the enemies that you might fight in a single player game, all of their movement is detected, is based off of AI.

Their response to your movements and your playstyle is crucial for either difficulty settings, progression in the game, that kind of thing. So, so AI has been in eSports for the longest time. And also now it makes level design so much easier. Perhaps it even I won't be one of those people and say it makes script writing easier.

Because I don't know if you've seen some of these AI generated scripts for different things, but they're terrible. So, I think that one thing that will set eSports apart and gaming apart when it comes to AI implementation is the fact that The companies that are able to bring synchronicity between the human side and A.

I. These companies that are staffed by people well versed in A. I. Art generation and scripts and writing. Those are going to stand the test of time because it's not the technology you have to fear. It's the people that know how to use the technology. So I think that those companies that Further implement it with and become bastions of leadership in how we can use AI to better our industry.

I think that's going to be the best change. So I don't, I mean, there, there are some people that are like, you can make a game completely in AI. They suck. They suck. They're horrible games. So, I think the biggest thing in esports that needs to happen is people need to learn how to implement it. Because then if, when that happens, the player experience, the gaming titles that come out, it's going to be so much more fun.

You know? And we get to reap the rewards of that because we're playing the games. You know? So, those are my two cents on AI. I believe it has a really positive role to play. In gaming in

[00:35:27] Paddy Dhanda: particular. Yeah. And that's again, another fascinating insight because for many industries that haven't previously faced AI, all of this stuff that's coming out now is a bit of a shocker.

Like I think about the medical field and, where AI is now able to do pattern matching so radiologists are fearful. Of, you know, the future of that career, because AI is just able to do that stuff way more efficiently because, you can feed it so many more piece of data, but your field sounds like.

You've been swimming with AI for a while, so there's nothing to fear. Yeah,

[00:36:04] Liam Brown: we've had, I mean, like, the competition that exists on the marketplace, Nobody's more vocal than gamers on social media when they're disappointed in something. And game review channels, there's an entire ecosystem specifically within content, gaming.

As a label for content and then underneath gaming content specifically for game reviews or you know, your son used to play fortnight for different battle pass reviews, things like that and because of that ecosystem that exists, these developers have to be at the top of their game and it's even got to a point where some developers just straight up.

If the fans don't like it, they just like lash out at the fans, which is not good. Let me just get that straight. That's not good either. But A. I. Has existed in this space for a while. I can, there's so many games coming out now that utilize AI, kind of, they base your movements and what you do consistently in the game and the enemies will learn from that.

And that's something, one, that's, that makes the game more interesting because you're going to be dying quicker because the game's learning from you. But also it's just so interesting to understand that this has a lasting impact on. On really the industry. So yeah, AI is definitely here to stay as far as gaming goes.

[00:37:25] Paddy Dhanda: To get your perspective on the sort of the future of gameplay, because. When I was growing up, we just had the traditional joystick, then the game pads kind of came out and then we've been toying with virtual reality. Oh, and then the Nintendo Wii came out and we had the whole motion movement.

We now have the Nintendo switch and that has similar sort of controls. Where do you think? The future lies, is it going to be almost that, what's that movie? Ready player one, get ready player one. Yeah. So what's going to happen in the future? Are we all going to be wearing these facial goggles, or is it going to be more the traditional gamepad?

[00:38:14] Liam Brown: So it's going to be the traditional gamepad for a while, but in the future I would like to see more virtual reality. So, so one thing that I can tell you is I, for us, I spent a summer in VR. When I was in university, so I had worked for a larger tech company, and one of the ways that I was doing research was learning about VR and kind of its impacts on the student population.

So I we University of Pittsburgh opened a digital media lab and you could go to and they had a bunch of different VR headsets. So for a summer I spent in VR, I can tell you it is Really, I don't want to say harmful. It hurts a little bit when you're in it for the first time for more than an hour, you're going to get awkwardly sweaty.

You've got a weird headache that's in the middle of your brain, and it's you can't look away from the screen because it is all encompassing. You might close your eyes. Sure. But then when you open your right smack dab in there. So, VR also is in such a different price point for a lot of people.

That's why there's an entire business model for companies that have VR rooms and they provide the VR experience. Because it's so expensive to purchase and own one. And then also it's still hard to really get immersed in it. Sure. Your vision is tracked in your hands and your motions are tracked, but when you want to move in game, crouch, stand up, that kind of stuff is still really inaccessible.

There's one company named Virtuix that just recently came out with an omnidirectional treadmill that you strap into and you can sprint in game, crouch, jump, all that kind of stuff. But. It's really expensive. So a lot of people are either making the, they're making one of a few decisions. They're sticking with console.

They're sticking with PC or they're including VR in with the mix of that. Now, just to include VR into the mix of that, it's in the. Let's face it, it's in the upper hundreds of dollars. So, you're also going to be experiencing a lack in player base. So, even these multiplayer games that exist on the VR platforms, there's, there, the player base is a lot smaller.

So, you're not going to have as many people to play with in the first place. Now you can also talk about how last year there is a downhill trend of VR headset purchases, despite meta putting, you know, massive dollars into promotion of it. It still went down. It went down by like single percentages.

Like I think it was like two or 3%, but that's still for the millions of VR as the next big thing. It's kind of tough to see that. So with platforms in XR and ar, so extended reality and augmented reality that allows you to take part in what you love most and in console gaming. And when I say xr, you can take like a pair of glasses like this it has like a little battery that's attached to it and you can plug it into your Xbox.

And you can put on the glasses and you've got a 168 degree inch monitor that only you can see, and you can just play your games on it while you're on a flight or, you know, just walking around or at school or stuff like that. So those solutions to make the console and the, let's say, traditional gaming experience more immersive and more tailored to your specifications, I believe that's going to allow.

the console and PC to stand upright with the advent of virtual reality. And I think that if we could find some way to kind of tie in the, almost the, it's kind of tough too, but like you, you see PlayStation with like their PSVR which costs an arm and a leg. Another one. So I think that as far as the technology that's coming out, we're going to see consoles and traditional gaming avenues such as console and PC really stay up at the top as far as the experience, but later on when VR becomes more accessible.

And more portable, because let's face it, the headset is this big this, it's like having a, like a ho, like a sandwich, like something as, as wide as a sandwich on your face and when we're, we have those more accessible and portable platforms, that's when VR will start to really come into the space, I don't see a lot of people adopting it like super quick, like, like, but, You know, that's kind of my envisionment for the space, so yeah, that's my for both.

So I'm sorry, I just ranted like so much with that.

[00:42:45] Paddy Dhanda: No we've got the oculus quest too. Yeah.

[00:42:49] Liam Brown: Device and quest is the one that has like minimal chords, right? Yeah, but it's so

[00:42:53] Paddy Dhanda: heavy. It's so heavy and yeah, we realized the weight of it. And like for me. Even I get tired after probably 15 minutes, I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for a young child, like, you know, with my kids, so I don't let them play on it for too long, but Yeah.

You end up with like a stiff neck after a while,

[00:43:09] Liam Brown: because it is so stiff. Hey, that's why you gotta get them into into the gym, too, and you gotta get them into boxing so that they learn to, like, work their neck and stuff like that.

[00:43:17] Paddy Dhanda: Ah, that's a good point, that's a good point. And talking of consoles, I was recently at the British Science Museum.

Over in London, and they had this really cool exhibition, which was I think it was either the last 50 years or the last 70 years of gaming. And they had about 160 consoles and machines on display that you could just jump on and start playing. And that's awesome. It was amazing. And it and they had this timeline of, I can't remember from what year it started, but all the way to the present moment, and they had all the different consoles.

My question to you, Liam, is, from your childhood, what was your favorite console?

[00:43:59] Liam Brown: Yeah, I think PlayStation 2 was my favorite, and then I migrated over to Xbox 360, and then from Xbox 360, I have my Xbox One S that I have now, and I have yet to migrate to an Xbox Series X or a PlayStation 5. PlayStation 2, that was my favorite just because I was able to do so much with it.

So, I was able to experience so many cool games still. And then when I migrated over to Xbox 360, that was probably the next favorite because Xbox 360 stood the test of time with PlayStation, like, 2, 3, 4. And it, it went head to head with those for, like, the longest time. So, I ended up enjoying, the Xbox more because of the controllers now.

I don't really take any any side in the fights of like, you know, Xbox exclusive versus PlayStation exclusive. If you look at exclusive titles, PlayStation definitely takes it takes the game because, you know, you've got uncharted God of War, you know, all the and, Now, a lot of developers are choosing to do a console exclusive release for the first few months, and then they, then they shill out the, oh, this is the Xbox One Series X, this is the Xbox One S version of the game, this is the Nintendo Switch version, and that, that's kind of been my evolution as far as gaming systems go.

So, I, probably PlayStation 2, because I have the most memories of that.

[00:45:31] Paddy Dhanda: God, I'm showing my age now, because... My very first proper sort of computer was the Amstrad CPC 464 and I don't expect you to No, that one, Liam, it was it was way back in the day, but it used to have cassettes, so you stick the game in and it used to take some time to load.

And what was really interesting was we were really patient and had to wait for the game to load and it can sometimes take five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever the time was. And I actually thought that added to the experience because there's almost this anticipation. The game's coming, it's coming and you'd see like.

The screen changing and they'd start showing you different images as it's loading. And it really got us to get excited about the game. Now, the only downside was when the game was poor, then you just wasted 15 minutes of your life waiting for this thing to start up. Yeah. So that was always the downside of that.

But I just feel now we live in this age of everything has to be instant. And like my son, even if it takes like, about five seconds to load up a page on the internet, he feels it's a lifetime and he just doesn't have the patience. So we're living in a, in an age of, you know, everything has to be instant and it's just interesting how things have moved and changed so much.

[00:46:50] Liam Brown: No, I completely understand. In gaming alone, you look at the concept of instant gratification, and how people are rewarded when they complain. In the sense that when they complain about certain things, or the release date of how this thing has been brought forth, they are given... Whatever they were asking for and sometimes to the detriment of the experience, you know, there's been a lot of games that They rushed the release because people were complaining so hard about it.

So then they ended up getting a bad game. So With the concept of delayed gratification and working towards your goals I think that's one of the things you could learn in either the competitive side in eSports because you have to grind in some way In order to participate at the better At a better level or achieve an in game rank, but it's also one of the reasons that I am such a big proponent of health and wellness in the space because when you learn a quantifiable reason for your body's health and how much time it takes to get to some of those physical milestones, I think you can take a lot of that and poured it into gaming and that's one of the things that I'm looking to change.

Really, so I, you know, I completely agree. We do live in an age of instant gratification, and I think that because of that and chasing what feels good or really just engaging those kinds of almost primal senses, I think that has kind of been to the detriment of the human experience for a lot of people, so.

That's my view on that.

[00:48:29] Paddy Dhanda: Oh, no, thank you. And it's great that you're focusing on that side of gaming, because I think that's the side that, as parents, we worry about most, is that well being of the kids.

[00:48:39] Liam Brown: Yeah, and I'm on, you know, I'm on every level of this. Like, I just mentioned before, we hopped on, but I hop in and...

Work are in person events that will run locally. Yeah, we're and in that I'm always meeting parents like concerned parents who are come to me to learn about e sports and kind of this as a career path and they're like, I can never get him off the game, this and that, and I'm just like, there just has to be some kind of balance.

You'll talk to other people where they're saying, well, you should let them because as a parent who didn't grow up with this technology, you're not the best equipped to. Tell them what to do or say. And I'm just like, that's not really, I don't think that's the best way to look at it. I think it's more like, the youth needs to understand that for success in anything, there has to be a balance.

So one of the things that I learned from a young age is like, my parents never said I couldn't play video games. They just wanted me to make sure that I got done responsibilities. And then they would game with me. They didn't want me not to go to friends houses to game all night. They just wanted to be.

To balance my grades sports and things like that. So I think if people are to almost legitimize esports and gaming as a pastime, they have to make sure that the balance is there. And unfortunately, that isn't something that responsibility of the Almost the human experience or that responsibility of balance is not something that we really hold in such high regard, which again I would like to change.

[00:50:11] Paddy Dhanda: Well, Liam, it's been an absolute pleasure and a joy. You've honestly just got me so excited and I just have learned so much. Myself. So thank you so much and really appreciate your time and your passion as well.

[00:50:24] Liam Brown: Yeah, man. No, it was great being here. I mean, you know, I always tell people there's never a dull moment and I never get tired of explaining this in any level of detail to anybody.

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