The Balance between Professionalism & Personality

With the demand for both more tournaments in the local/regional/national/international scene as well as improved story-telling from said tournament organizers, the amount of exposure a player receives should rise. With more exposure means more public eyes on who they are, what they do, and what they say. This exposure and amount of viewership translates both to a varying level of expectancies and desires from a player (or personality). When it comes to the expectancies of professionalism of young adult professional gamers, the community standards are too high and too vague to properly determine. With insistence of etiquette over a digital space, the only area of one’s courtesies that can be seen publicly is personality; written or verbal. Personality in E-Sports is voiced more than acted out and thus manners are gauged more by the words communicated than some of the behind-the-scenes actions these iconic people do. This lopsidedness of perceived civility can often create a popular negative association with a person, despite their commendable actions within an organization. In other words, the public evaluates a person’s professionalism solely by what is seen as said (so they never account what someone does as well) and can often be too high and varied for someone to reasonably accommodate.

The other issue popular community members deal with when it comes to professionalism is when we consider the “audience”. Intended audience when something is first voice or written is not necessarily the general public and what is private communication ends up being public (but not expected to be). Below are several drama-related issues that spiked popularity on Reddit’s StarCraft subreddit. Some based on private communication caught through public means (though unintended), others spoke on a public level, but to be interpreted as emotionally private (meaning personal and not necessarily representative of their public professional attitude):

Reprimanding those who misbehave is something most support, however one’s career becomes “crucified” over misappropriation of language, unfavourable personal opinions or poor sportsmanship is often the eventual consequence for some prominent members. Reprimands are needed if the community dislikes circumstances such as Ex-Root Gaming player Destiny saying racist words on the pretense of personality; Team Liquid player NonY openly writing his discontent due to his frustration. Not all incidents are acceptable, but they’re all done with the public watching continuously and that, in of itself, poses a dilemma. Personal restraint is important and should be learned, but outlets to openly express one’s discontent are also essential. How a player can express themselves accordingly is something all teams will have to teach to the socially inept. Given how exposed these iconic figures are on a daily basis, the likelihood of them misbehaving in the past or present increase than that of other celebrity figures in mainstream worlds.

A few months ago, Destiny weighed in on this issue:

“I can’t think of a single time in the history of anything where people have had the same kind of “24/7″ access to celebrity-like figures. Sure, people like Tiger Woods and Tom Hanks have a twitter, but they are very, very carefully managed. You rarely see them doing things “for fun” in public, and when they are, it’s rare that there’s a camera or a spotlight on them. You don’t know how Tom Cruise acts with his personal friends; you don’t know what kind of dirty jokes Denzel Washington laughs at; you don’t know what Taylor Swift thinks about racial slurs.

All of the incidents and drama that I mentioned earlier occurred via forums of communication (forum posts, streams, twitter) that 99.999% of the celebrity world doesn’t partake in.”

What the community asks for is maturity and so a public ‘backlash’ over Reddit or Team Liquid, even to the greatest degree (i.e. contacting a team’s sponsor), is due to the community’s pressuring desire for two concepts:

1. an immediate response from the sponsoring organization about the situation.

2. Suitable Punishments. Maturity is the backbone of good public relation skills towards an emotionally-filled community. When players fail to portray maturity, the community feels compelled to show disapproval (if the team doesn’t first).

Though short, this piece determines three existing demands from teams and the community;

  • Leniency & Patience. Teams don’t want to lose their livelihood over the free-will of their players who offer more good than bad. There should also be some leniency in what’s said over what’s offered. When players give you streams, time on web-shows for their opinions and a peak into their lives, there should be some liberties for them to express themselves.
  • Punishments & Sanctions. The community wants rules set in place to properly punish those who misrepresent and offend the scene. These rules should be both implicit in contracts and expected to be carried out in a timely manner.
  • Maturity & Professionalism. Teams and tournaments expect this, but to what lengths? This is the million-dollar question and while racism is obviously not allowed, are players allowed to express their anger towards an unruly community member? What about joking/teasing amongst friends where the language/topic is not very tasteful? What boundaries are to be set to give players some privacy and room?

Ultimately, what it comes down to is pleasing a diverse audience of different ages and maturities with both constant content from the players, but also keep it at a level of professionalism that most professionals are not used to constantly uphold. Restraint is difficult when it isn’t natural or raised as we all grow older. Restraint from the community is also difficult when some are too impatient to wait for an official statement. To end, we are presented with a real respective from a professional gamer, torn between his personality and words, and the harsh reactions and expectancies of an assorted community:

“If I say something stupid, like the Naniwa comments or being a part of Avilo’s horrible appearance on SOTG: it charges months of backlash. Now, in a world where people are making sport of contacting sponsors and asking them to fire people I too have to think: Is more [exposure] better? SOTG tends to discuss dramatic stuff, I am getting married in December, do I want to run the risk of another year of a show where one wrong statement and I am potentially ejected from the community/job that is attached to my very soul? My passion? I cannot change who I am.”

[Evil Geniuses iNcontrol]

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