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Travis: "People should just go and create stuff"

By Philipp 'Phil403' Neubauer
Apr 4, 2014 19:05


ImageTravis Gafford is an eSports journalist, host and interviewer for onGamers. He shares the story of how he got into eSports, what makes an entertaining interview for him and more!

Philipp: You started your eSports career from scratch. What was your motivation in the first place?

Travis: In the beginning, I was a big fan of StarCraft and League of Legends as competitive titles, but at the time, there wasn’t too much League content out there. Although I was playing LoL more, I realized that there was no information on the players, teams etc. So, I decided to start creating my own. I never expected it to become a career or something to be interviewed about in a studio in Cologne, Germany.

P: How difficult was it to get in touch with players initially?

T: Basically, how it worked, Doublelift got me in touch with a SYDTKO who was a former pro. In turn, he helped me get in touch with other players like Dyrus, for example. Eventually, I formed the connections and even nowadays, through them, I usually can get in touch with a player if my job requires it. Also, keep in mind that the scene was much smaller back in the day.

P: What general tips or hints would you give to people who wish to become content creators?

T: The big thing is that people should just go and create stuff. Day9 usually says this a lot whenever they ask him how did he get into in eSports. You just start doing something. I think a big problem that people run into is that they constantly say they want to do something or create a piece, but in the end, they do not get down to actually doing it. If you want to get into eSports journalism you can simply start blogging on a certain topic. Another option is to volunteer on a website such as SK and start making connections through your work. If you do not fancy that, you can volunteer at a tournament or any other type of eSport environment. To sum up, start creating!

P: What makes an enjoyable interview in your opinion?

T: First and foremost, it has to be entertaining. That can be achieved in two ways, getting in a ton of information, which could potentially make it very “dry” or make it really funny. I believe this is one of the reasons people enjoy my 1 on 1s with Doublelift and to be very honest, I too, enjoy watching those. You can make a great interview, but if the information is not compelling, it is presented in a “dry” manner, your jokes are bad or the interviewee is being very brief with his answers and you are not making up for it, you will come to the conclusion that it may not be a very enjoyable interview. You also need to make sure to avoid being awkward. I do it sometimes, but they are definitely not cringe-worthy.

P: You have been to every major region out there. How big are the differences in interviewing players?

T: North American pros, in my opinion, are the most open, because by now they are used to doing interviews with me. Also, they do content with their sponsors on a regular basis and let’s not forget interviews from Riot. This makes them more comfortable and most have them have been around the competitive scene for a very long time. In Europe, not as much, because in the majority of the cases, English is not their first language, so when I interview them, they tend to get a bit nervous. In addition, most of them have not been interviewed at all; excluding some Riot broadcast Q&A videos. When it comes to Asian players, the majority does not speak English at all and because of that the interviews generally tend to get dry. Using a translator also does not help as this eliminates the possibility of joking around with the player and in the end; all you are left with is a generic response to a question. What is interesting is that I think most of the pros there view the process as more of a professional rather than a relaxing thing. This makes it pretty difficult to connect to the player outside his 100% professional façade. However they can be really playful on occasion, an example would be my interview with Imp and Doublelift during the Season 3 World Finals.

P: Which is your favourite interview from the ones you have done so far?

T: To be honest, I have different interviews for different categories, but off the top of my head I think the one with Brandon Beck, CEO of Riot, was a really cool. I am also really proud of the talk with Jatt regarding his casting, because it was a very good example of my craft – getting a good answer out of someone and in general, setting the right interview environment. Funnily enough, the one I have gotten most feedback and positive response from is the interview with Officer Caitlyn and Doublelift at PAX 2013.

P: Do you reckon the community wants more relaxed and casual interviews or information packed ones?

T: I think the community wants everything! If I tend to do only one of these, then people miss the other. Last year, when I was mostly doing short interviews with LCS pros, I got a bit of a negative feedback, saying that my stuff was mostly “fluff” and I was not a serious journalist. This year, however, people liked the LCS interviews, but have also positively responded to my longer and more informative talks with Nick Allen, Jatt, HotShotGG and several other long-form interviews during my stay here in Europe which should come out later on.

P: Will we see more “Fireside chats”?

T: I hope so! I am not exactly sure if they will be called “Fireside chats” or not, but that type of 30-45 minute long interview. Unlike the long interviews which Thorin conducts, which are based around the historical aspect of a player’s career, mine are based more around the personality of a player and his qualities. I think this really plays into my strengths as I have always been good at revealing the personality of the player.

P: If you could choose 3 or 4 people to join you on a TV show, explaining the eSports phenomenon and culture alongside you, which players or people behind the scene would you choose and why?

T: My first pick would be Doublelift. He is an experienced player and we tend to do well together. Second pick would be my colleague Slasher as he is well-spoken and has been able to understand the breadth of eSports. Next up is a friend, Nick Allen. I think he would do an excellent job in representing the company approach to our industry, because he works at Riot. Finally, I think Carmac would be a good fit. He operates IEM and is a very well-spoken member of eSports. So let’s review the mix: a player, an eSports journalist, an industry member and a tournament manager.

P: Thank you very much for the interview.

T: You're welcome.


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