The digital age has ushered in plenty of new ways to meet friends, talk with family, and network without having to ever leave your house. It’s funny, writing about a time when everyone didn’t have cell phones or internet access probably dates me (I grew up in Kyrgyzstan, don’t @ me). I didn’t have a cell phone until I was in high school and growing up I barely had access to the internet. When I found myself able to get online, I was doing heavy research into into what game I was buying next or maybe checking out new music until the bandwidth died. My friends and I had pre-determined meeting spots that we would go to certain days of the week and it wasn’t until later in my childhood that we could readily use a landline to communicate. If this sounds like gibberish to some of you, well...times were different, ok?
As crazy as my background might sound to some, there were other people around the world that had to do similar things in order to meet people and friends. Growing up in Central Asia, we did a lot of LAN (local area network community get togethers, like, no wifi, if you can imagine the horror) events where we’d play games like Command & Conquer, Starcraft, and other RTS games. Pretty close by in Eastern Europe many people were doing LANs for things like Quake and Counterstrike. A huge part of our gaming and streaming culture started there in those humble LAN parties that were hosted wherever the community could find real estate. I’m not going to go into the full story of how the culture grew from that, as it would demand a much larger blog post, but there was a crucial element that was born out of these humble beginnings: the importance of networking and attending events.
There’s a reason that events like PAX, DreamHack, Intel Extreme Masters, MSI, and local LANs still exist that is more than just sponsors spending lots of money to get people to use their products. There’s a reason why people travel halfway across the world to see their favorite esports, brands, and friends at one central location. The value of meeting someone face to face, shaking a hand, sharing ideas, trading experiences, and toasting to a better tomorrow are things that can’t fully happen over the internet, no matter how advanced we get. When you attend events and have the opportunity to network with like-minded people, you’re going to meet a lot of new faces that will share ideas to help your work life balance, give you inspiration on how to tackle challenges, and how to engage your audience on stream much more effectively. Meeting other streamers and sharing your thoughts, challenges, feedback and other thoughts is the best way to gather new ideas to implement on stream. There are even opportunities to attend parties and social events where you’ll be shaking hands with someone who works at one of your favorite companies...and who knows, maybe they’ll even offer you a job?
Raise Your Glass
When people gather together in a shared space, a lot of powerful things can happen. Solutions to age old problems can be discovered, light can be shed on new issues, jobs can be created, and ideas can flourish. We can do that over the phone, we can do it on Discord, but what we can’t do on any of those is raise a real live toast surrounded by thousands of people raising their glasses to making tomorrow’s gaming world better than it was yesterday. Get out there, attend events, network, find places to meet for coffee, get uncomfortable, put yourself out there and go for your dream job by asking to meet a manager at Blizzard; believe me, it’s all worth it.