UCI Esports and NASEF host the 2018 Girls in Gaming Summer Camp


by | Jul 24, 2018, 3:00PM PDT
Paving the way for the next generation of industry professionals

As the industry continues to grow larger than life, many organizations are taking a critical look at the esports ecosystem and their own shortcomings in diversity, especially in gender. Today, more groups are offering events and programs catered toward women, equipping them with tools for navigating esports opportunities and careers.

Playing squads, not solos

UCI Esports held its inaugural Girls in Gaming camp in Summer of 2017, including 15 young gamers looking to get a head start on their esports journey. For 2018, UCI Esports had great hopes to deepen the camp curriculum. With esteemed partner in high school esports and title sponsor, North America Scholastic Esports Federation (hereafter referred to as NASEF), the camp curriculum was revisited with the lens of social emotional learning and STEM career opportunities.

This year’s curriculum continued to provide a snapshot of the esports ecology, featuring sessions in the subjects of journalism, event planning and content creation. With support from academic partners at the UCI Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Science, the camps included activities on improving mechanical skills, using game analytics for self-assessments, and addressing safety in online spaces.

Gaming and growing

With each day of the week-long camp came a variety of activities, lessons and guest speakers. On Monday, the focus was healthy gaming, featuring guest speakers Dr. Julie Holt and Cole Pocock from the Integrative Core Energy Coaching Network. This gave our campers the solid foundation to game throughout the week strategically.

One of our campers checking out all of the games in the arena!

Tuesday, the campers learned all about content creation, starting off with journalist Tatjana “Digital_Vix3n” Vejnovic. Tatjana currently writes for USA Today and taught our campers how to get started and set themselves up for success. In the afternoon, NASEF League Operations Coordinator Jessamyn Acebes and camp staff Brandi Moy walked campers through the ins and outs of graphic design, later leaving campers to create event flyers of their own.

Wednesday started off with an overview of stream basics, leading into a Q-and-A session with HeroesHype stream team manager Maaike “ShinobiHaruka” Tirtarahardja. Campers were extra excited later in the day, when Counterstrike: Global Offensive players Emmalee “EMUHLEET” Garrido, Lynnie “artStar” Noquez and Kiara “milk” Makua from Team Dignitas walked them through team chemistry during competition. They were also joined by a few of our own CS:GO club’s competitive team.

Thursday was star-studded with some of Blizzard’s most influential women. In the morning, campers designed their dream event with Sabrina Wong (LA Valiant, Events) who had signed goodies to share with everyone. In the afternoon, campers participated in a round table discussion with Blizzard employees Nicki Quinn (PM Esports), Stelanie Tsirlis (Esports Coordinator), Ania Wietski (Lead PM Esports), and Keikei Day (Esports Coordinator).

Our camper presenting her event ideas to LA Valiant’s Sabrina Wong.

Friday was set up for celebrations and fun! Ovilee May, most famously known for her interviews with LCS and ESPN Esports, started everyone (including Overwatch caster James “Jamerson” Lee) off with her typical vocal warm ups. Ovilee and James both gave plenty of helpful tips to mentally prepare them for what was to come. In the afternoon, our campers participated in a mock tournament with several casting live on Twitch.

Jessamyn, who also served as one of the camp coordinators for the inaugural Girls’ Camp, was excited to see how the second year came about. “It brought me great pride and joy to see old and new faces this summer,” she reflected. “A few of the main things we wanted to improve on were camper engagement, increased activity time, and better curated speakers and topics. Thanks to this huge collaborative effort of camp counselors, support staff, community members and guest speakers, we were able to make this happen. We’re constantly striving to improve and provide a better experience year after year.”

The camp came to a bittersweet end with the awards ceremony, which was streamed on Twitch, recognizing each camper with their accomplishments for the week and sending them off with lots of goodies from additional sponsors.

Hope for the future

As Morgan “Rhoulette” Romine, Director of Initiatives for AnyKey.org, covered during her session at the week’s end, toxicity is still apparent within the esports community. As campers are equipped with the tools to kickstart their esports journey, they are advised to be mindful of how their actions online influence others and how to deal with unsafe or toxic spaces.

NASEF and UCI Esports will continue to create and support safe spaces for gaming. For more information on their inclusivity efforts, visit their websites at esportsfed.org and esports.uci.edu.

We would also like to thank our other camp sponsors iBUYPOWER, NVIDIA, Mountain Dew Kickstart, EVGA, Tespa, Logitech, Vertagear, and Linksys for helping make this possible!

Thank you also to all campers and speakers. See you in 2019!

Video Game Industry Jobs and Careers: Resourcefully Breaking into Esports or Game Development


by | Dec 3, 2018, 3:00PM PDT

A few of us have known since we were little what we want to be when we grow-up, while some of us could graduate and still not know. One thing seems sure, that the sooner you set a destination, the sooner you will arrive there (barring GPS glitches or user error). So how does one go from not knowing to knowing? Exploration and introspection are two great ways! And if the headline brought you here, you have at least narrowed it down to an industry. An ocean is smaller than a nebula, so this is quest progress!

Exploration can be preliminarily broken down into reading, conversing, observing and experiencing. What does this mean? You can read up on the different parts of the industry (and the disciplines within them); talk to informed, veteran insiders; you can ask to job shadow someone; lastly, you can make games. These paths will serve you at all levels of your journey, whether a neophyte who enjoys gaming but doesn’t know QA Testing from Product Management, or a well-informed applicant who knows their exact dream job and already has done some business networking.

But you do not have to sail this ocean on a rickety self-made raft without a compass, map, nor companion, ye brave Wind Waker. Have you stepped into the UCI Career Center at least once, or even surfed their website? If not, DO IT! DO IT NOW! (“GET IN DA CHOPPAH!”) If you do not know the best ways to do job and career research, they are there to help you. Discover your options here.

Quest tip #1: Reading job postings on company websites can be educational. Sometimes their jargon might leave you not entirely sure what you read, but you can get help clarifying. Find a good source of information to get educated on this rich and diverse industry.

On-campus, the Video Game Developers Club at UCI and The Association of Gamers (TAG at UCI) are great clubs for making friends and networking. LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook Groups are some of the top ways to find recruiters whose job is to help answer your questions. You can also use them to find organizations like the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) (with chapters in OC, LA, and more) or SoCal Game Devs. Also, (watch Extra Credits.)

Quest tip #2: Companies will sometimes hire a candidate they know (plus trust and like) with most of the required skills over a total stranger who looks like a perfect candidate on paper.

Networking can be an art form, and like all major points above, the sooner the better. Companies want to hire people who can do the work and add value. As one favorite author has put it, your goal should be to increase the pleasure and reduce the pain of your employer and colleagues. Networking lets you get to know others and to be known. So be mindful of your image and reputation.

After you have completed your first major quest milestone and figured out what you want to do and where you want to go, it becomes clear what skills or degree you would need to best reach your destination. Much better to figure that out freshman year than senior year! (But there are still options for those in the final phases of their degree program.)

While applying with degree in-hand is one option, the strongest move is to apply for internships before then -or- to make your own games (including mods, characters, levels, et al). Blizzard Entertainment has one of the most developed and robust internship programs in this young industry. Sadly, this year’s application window just closed, but start planning for next year’s or search for others. If Los Angeles is not too far away, check out opportunities with Riot Games.

Quest tip #3: Think outside the box and be proactive–do not wait for things to come to you (or for them to happen in a preconceived conventional order).

Making your own games does not mean making your own AAA video game for all major platforms–although more power to you if you do that (mad respect). Making a rudimentary card game, board game, even word game, they all count; drawing characters, writing a backstory; playing with a level editor. The merits of this may or may not be obvious, but JUST DO IT. (Remember: “Don’t let your dreams be dreams! Yesterday, you said tomorrow! So just do it! Make your dreams come true. Just do it!”)

Once you apply for jobs, you will hopefully start having job interviews. If you have had none or few, tap back into the UCI Career Center for job interview tips and preparation! After working so hard to get so close to the goal, do not go in cold and raw. But that is a whole other chapter for another time.

TL;DR: Learn the various parts of the industry and how they all fit together to decide where you want to be within it. Acquire the skills for the job you want and also find allies to guide or support your journey to your goal. The more you know and do before you apply for a job, the easier it will be to get a job.