Panel: Aletaha, Salvatore Say Future is Bright for Esports Industry

Esports industry executives Naz Aletaha (Riot Games head of global esports partnerships) and Kristen Salvatore (Cloud9 Senior Vice President of Marketing) weighed in on the “Future of Esports” on Wednesday in a webinar hosted by the University of Miami School of Education and Human Development in association with the school’s Sport Administration program.

The panel discussion was moderated by David Higdon, Riot Games global head of communications, esports. 

(Aletaha was recently named as an SBJ Forty Under 40 recipient and will be one of the featured speakers at SBJ’s Esports Rising Conference on May 4.)

Below are some of the highlights from the program:

On the esports industry and career opportunities:

Aletaha: “Gaming is this amazing way to connect with people. When I was growing up, gaming as a profession wasn’t even talked about. I’m so happy to see now that there’s so much interest and a clear career path for gaming and esports.” 

On Riot’s vision of the esports industry: 

Aletaha: “How we think about esports at Riot… Our view is that whatever we do as a company, esports or games or otherwise, we do it for the players and the fans to give them unparalleled experiences…We want to establish and build out the infrastructure the sport needs to be able to operate for a season and allow pros and teams to thrive in that ecosystem and build fandom…. That’s one of the amazing things about esports, it’s borderless. Our fans are global.”

On the subject of gender equality within esports:

Salvatore: “Gender equity initiatives as a path to equality is very important to Cloud9… More needs to happen to even things out and get us a big step toward being equal. We’re excited about Riot’s initiatives like Game Changers… It’s heartening to see a developer take on that challenge… We’re happy to contribute to this space and see more development in the future.”

On pursuing a career within the esports industry:

Salvatore: “Esports needs smart people in every possible capacity in this business. It’s not just about being great at games; knowing and being passionate about games is important, but there are so many opportunities in this fast-growing industry. Don’t think because you’re not competing at a high level of your game of choice doesn’t mean there’s not a place for you here.”

Aletaha: “At Riot, we say that our vision is that the world sees gaming as a meaningful life pursuit. The easiest manifestation of that is becoming a professional esports athlete, but there are so many other ways to manifest that. Gaming has become just as popular as TV and as music, and technology is only advancing, so the industry is only going to continue to grow. Everything you could imagine in the sports world from a job standpoint does or will exist in esports. The opportunity space is wide.”

(Excerpts provided by Riot Games’ Ariel West.)

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