Most of us are passionate about esports.
It’s a fact that I find important to state in regards to what follows. So many of us live and work in the industry, following our favourite games, players, teams and tournaments on a daily basis, rigorously and even, for some, religiously. Passion has been the biggest asset and motivation for everything that has been built today and will probably remain a driving force for all that is to come in our flourishing industry.
That being said, at what point does passion cease to become a bankable trait to add on one’s CV? How can it influence your decision when hiring a new team member in your esports-focused company? Can passion actually be detrimental to our industry?
For the past few years now I have often talked to people about the rise and fall of small yet promising companies and structures, created by people who care deeply about sharing their experiences with others and forming infrastructures that welcome, guide and nurture players. Sadly, most of these structures lack people at key roles to ensure their long term survival. We see this on many different aspects such as legal, financial, marketing, management, business relations etc. where the role is filled by someone with great passion but little experience in a similar position. And one of the key elements of failure can come from the recruitment process: trusting that someone with sufficient motivation will soon learn the role he has been given. To some extent we all evolve in our work on a daily basis, and someone who has never held a specific position can definitely, in time, acquire the skills that he or she needs to be efficient in that role.
Unfortunately the esports industry is evolving too fast and we don’t have time to train essential staff or wait for them to develop those important skills!
A strong team manager does not always make a strong CEO. A successful player does not always make a successful team manager. And a passionate gamer does not always make a competent new recruit.
As we see bigger and bigger investments made into esports to finance teams, build infrastructures, or sponsor tournaments, it’s becoming increasingly paramount that we also work with competent, professional staff members who are also experts of their fields. Theoretically, this should allow us to increase overall efficiency, manage funds and resources better, negotiate stronger deals and create a safer and more inviting ecosystem for investors and non-endemic companies.
With these goals in mind, it is important for us all, especially small businesses where every staff member needs to be versatile and competent in multiple disciplines, to focus on hiring people based on the skill-set needed for the position and not perceived worth acquired from non-related success or involvement in the industry.
To most people, this will sound quite obvious: hire based on related skills, not passion.
Ironically, one of the first things people ask in an esports-related job interview (and in the tech industry as a whole) is “are you passionate for what we sell?”. It’s a fair question that should be asked and, yes, being passionate is a bonus. But that’s just it! Passion must not be more than a bonus to the recruiter, something that we tend to forget when we ourselves are passionate.
If your company sells online banking solutions, mortgage loans or domain names for example, you would not expect your accountant to be passionate for online banking solutions, mortgage loans or domain names (although we all agree that accountants can be pretty weird at times).
So when Randstad announced that they have teamed up with ESL (admittedly only in France for now) I must admit that I suddenly felt much happier about the future of the industry. Randstad is one of the most important industry leaders in human ressources (right behind Adecco) and specialize in finding and recruiting short and long term employees for companies.
But why is this so important to me and many esport industry professionals?
By joining hands with ESL, Randstad are telling the world not only that they wish to enter the esports game, but that they are already prepared to help companies find the right person for the job. They have critical knowledge that many small businesses lack in terms of HR, helping us structure the teams we need that are to become backbones to many of tomorrow’s projects. Those present at the recent Paris Games Week will have seen Jean-Baptiste Bruneau (Head of Marketing for Randstad France) speak about the importance of this collaboration for both Randstad, who are securing in ESL a partner with deep knowledge of esports, and the esports industry in general to which they are looking for new opportunities. Passion for esports is benched here to let qualifications play the main role in the field.
Our partnership with ESL, coupled with our presence at Paris Games Week, reflects our desire to become eSports' leading HR partner and to professionalize the sector - François Béharel, president of Randstad France.
We are proud to see that our businesses are recognized, and tomorrow thanks to Randstad, seen as a job-creating and value-creating sector - Samy Ouerfelli, Managing Director of Turtle Entertainment France (ESL) and Great Gamers Award Jury Member
Pure marketing stunt for a company who may be well placed to address first hand the growing concern for professional player contracts and better work standards for many? Possibly.
Genuine wish to enter the field to help add value to the experience of the people involved and fortify the industry as a whole? Maybe.
Indicator of the growing health and strength of the industry within which so many passionate people have poured their hearts and souls? Definitely!
Translation: We don't think of a professional athlete without a contract. What about a player?
As I myself am working with a very small team of people to create a new award, that will showcase the best players in the world, I realise now more than ever the importance both of experience and of passion. From the start, the Great Gamers Award was born from a common passion for esports from people with very different backgrounds and who play very different games. We rely on passionate people every day for help in setting up this amazing experience and trust that this passion will help unite everyone involved. We cannot take this passion for granted nor can we afford to waste it: it is both our most abundant and most important resource.
The word of the day must therefore be one of caution. Indeed, we all know the importance of passion, but it is clearly too easy and possibly quite detrimental to base someone’s worth on their passion and not on their proven capacities. Esports has come a long way, piggybacking on the immense passion of the industry’s key players and has succeeded far better than most of us would ever have imagined. Let's not set aside passion, simply understand it as a force that drives people and not the industry.
Let professionalism drive the industry and you will have more time to truly live your passion!
Read my latest article here => Courtyard bullies, jocks and cheerleaders - why esports is the high-school of gaming!
Photos by Aurélien Mignerat / ESL