Gen.G operates esports teams in some of the world’s most competitive leagues, but its vision has always extended beyond gaming. The company taps into the passion, skills, and enthusiasm found in the gaming community to power creative approaches in other fields, such as education and brand marketing. Read on to learn more about Gen.G’s innovative work.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company.
I am the chief revenue officer and head of partnerships at Gen.G Esports. I oversee our global operations, including the creation of brand partnerships that build value for us and our clients.
Competitive esports is our headline business. We operate eight pro teams in a variety of leagues, but we also look at gaming more broadly. In addition to esports, Gen.G also has a brand agency and an education initiative.
As part of my work on the brand initiative, I connect with companies and organizations to learn how we can provide them with gaming solutions, from full esports verticals to branded activations — events that take place within games and raise awareness of a specific brand.
What impact is your company making in your industry?
In the early days of esports, many people were speculating that it could eventually compete with major sports leagues like the NFL. We were skeptical about that, but we knew that gaming is incredibly important to a lot of people.
If you talk to young people, almost all of them play some kind of game — on their phones or on a console. One way Gen.G is making an impact is by exploring gamification — that is, creating a game-like experience that can be applied to other areas.
We run a fully accredited gaming academy in South Korea. We partner with colleges and universities to serve as their official esports and gaming divisions. Our goal is not to make the kids better gamers, but to use gaming to cultivate a love of learning.
One of the questions we’ve asked ourselves is, “How can we become the Hogwarts of gaming?” That is, how can we create an educational community that brings gamers into one place and draws on their enthusiasm but makes the output educational?
Are there any specific projects or recent successes you’re particularly proud of that you would like to share?
Three years ago, we launched the Gen.G Elite Esports Academy in Seoul — an exclusive, fully accredited school. Some of the best gamers in South Korea left their schools to enroll in our academy and it was amazing to see, because they really took a huge leap of faith to do that.
Our instructional model is to teach students about paths they can explore that intersect with their gaming passion. We are able to introduce them to so many things they can do with their lives because of their passion for gaming.
We now have 13 graduates who’ve moved on to universities in the United States with full scholarships as part of the university esports teams. They are proving to excel not only in gaming, but also as students as a whole, earning recognition on deans’ lists and leadership positions on campus.
On the brand side, we recently staged a live KPop concert in Roblox, a popular online gaming environment. That was a great opportunity for one of the most successful KPop bands, Aespa, to cultivate new fans by appearing on a platform used by millions of people.
Why do you do the work you do?
Before joining Gen.G, I had similar roles with the LA Dodgers and Major League Baseball for a decade. I’m not sure if there’s a more traditional sport than baseball. We were doing a lot of fun, exciting things there, but ultimately, I realized it was going to be difficult to make a lasting impact on an institution so steeped in history.
When I had the opportunity to work with Gen.G, I was excited because esports was a new industry without a lot of preconceived expectations. I pictured myself looking back one day and saying, “My fingerprints were on the transformation of this industry.”
What inspires me is the ability to do cool things and influence the direction of this product. I’ve had hundreds of conversations with decision-makers at brands, many starting to introduce esports and gaming at a very basic level. Now we look back at how much the industry has grown, the amazing things we’ve accomplished, and the partnerships we have, and say, “I can’t believe we did that.”
Are there shared goals and values that drive the successful relationship between you and Nixon Peabody?
Nixon Peabody focuses on providing elite solutions, and so does Gen.G. Our client bases may be different, but we both value creative approaches, and we both aim to instill confidence in the people we serve. Apart from that, I think it’s exciting that Gen.G is in the position to lean on a large, reputable firm like Nixon Peabody when we need legal advice. It really shows how much our company has grown, and how much the esports playing field has expanded.
What do you see as a major opportunity or challenge for the esports market in the year ahead?
Anyone who follows our industry knows that conditions in the esports world have changed dramatically in the past six months. Some people are calling it the “esports winter.” Fortunately, our CEO was preaching about this 18 months ago; he anticipated this shift and Gen.G was able to prepare for it. Because of our focus on education and brand partnerships, we continue to thrive even in the eye of the storm.
When I first joined the company, I asked some people at an industry event, “What is Gen.G to you?” They said, “Gen G. are the smart kids in school — the ones you want to sit next to during a test.” Some may hear that and think we’re nerds, but really it means we’re thoughtful and cautious. We’ve always been a responsible gaming brand.
I’m excited for what’s in store for Gen. G and the esports market generally.