Video games have jumped into the mainstream recently, with competitive esports carving out a legitimate piece of the entertainment industry. We spoke to IGN’s Jessica Chobot about what has drawn her to the gaming industry and where she sees it heading.
When did your interest in gaming first take off? Did that help shape where you wanted your career to go?
My interest in gaming took off when I was around 7 years old. We had an Atari 2600 at the time and I remember sitting down with my dad to play baseball, River Raid, Pitfall, and Riddle of the Sphinx.
I think gaming really ended up making a big impression on me because it was something my dad and I could do together and that meant a lot to me as a 7-year-old.
That said, that time in my life didn’t necessarily shape what I wanted for a career but it’s definitely a memory that has helped spur me on throughout it.
Are there any pieces of gaming equipment that are must-have for when you play?
A comfortable couch or chair! It’s not usually considered a high priority but, to me, it is so important.
It’s very easy to lose track of how much time you’ve been sitting in one spot, in one position, while playing a game. Without a comfortable place to park yourself, you could actually do some damage to your body over time. Whether it ends up as poor posture, carpal tunnel, a bad neck, etc., all those things can add up, and before you know it you’re going to a chiropractor or physician for help.
What are some of your favorite games to play? Are you more of a casual gamer or very competitive?
This is always such a hard question to answer because I love a bunch of different gaming titles and genres for a bunch of different reasons.
Off the top of my head, some of my favorite games over the last couple of years have been Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Assassins Creed: Odyssey, Stardew Valley, Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and Minecraft. I certainly lean into the RPG/Action-RPG types of titles more often than not.
As for what type of gamer label I am, I would say I’m more of a casual gamer. For me, gaming is a way to escape into another world, another life, and another experience. It’s my stress reliever.
That’s not to say an occasional competitive streak doesn’t rear its head once in a while — I’ve played plenty of multiplayer and co-op games where I’m keeping tabs on other’s rankings. It’s just that those titles usually aren’t my default “go-to” gameplay.
What are your thoughts on the eSports industry and how fast it’s grown?
I don’t know if it’s grown all that fast. At least not here in the United States
In my opinion, different iterations of esports have been lurking in the background since the 1980s, with video game competitions and TV shows like Starcade. It just seems like it’s blowing up now because, for those of us here in the States, esports is finally getting some mainstream attention.
High-profile investors and big name company sponsorships are pumping significant money into events, teams, prize money, and training facilities, and the audiences have proven that this is what they want to see and they’re willing to show up.
It has been very fun watching esports finally begin to flourish as a result of that support.
From your point of view, are there any misconceptions about the industry?
If we’re still focusing on esports, I would say a common misconception folks unfamiliar with esports may have would be that it is a flash-in-the-pan trend. That it’s “only video games” and therefore isn’t taken seriously, or given the respect it deserves.
I think it’s perfectly acceptable to carve out a space for esports. There is a lot of concentration, practice, endurance, communication, and problem-solving skills that occur at the level that these teams and individuals are playing. There’s nothing wrong in admiring and enjoying the entertainment that esports brings.
Do you think esports is helping the social aspect of gaming, encouraging players of different backgrounds/genders to play?
Esports definitely seems to be moving in the right directions to make those goals happen, and I look forward to seeing more people across all different backgrounds and genders getting involved, joining teams, competing, and moving the sport forward for many decades to come.