How esports broadcaster Erin Ashley Simon managed to stand out from the crowd

In the world of esports and gaming, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. In a sea of ​​endless creators (mostly male) looking for their moment to shine and ready to grab any opportunity for viral fame, staying true to your own vision and goals can be a burden. Erin Ashley Simon, a 29-year-old presenter and commentator, has managed to beat the competition, while staying true to herself.

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Host of the Life is not a game podcast and co-owner of esports organization XSET, she has appeared in several nationwide commercials and launched her own playwear line with Puma. His dedication to grinding has lasted for over a decade.

“The more I feel comfortable being myself, the more it resonates with other people, the more I identify,” said Simon. NME. “And the more people feel and see me, whether it’s through my broadcast work or social media, they see me as someone they can be themselves with. It is someone who is a positive beacon in their life.

Simon was born outside of Philadelphia but moved to New Jersey with his mother after her parents divorced when she was very young. She remembers her mother, whose parents emigrated from Puerto Rico, teaching her to “appreciate and love her family” as well as to keep a connection with her “Afro-Latino roots”. Her older brother was the one who brought her to play, but her family nurtured that passion.

Erin Ashley Simon. Credit: Erin Ashley Simon

“I had parents who understood the game and respected it,” said Simon. “The rule in our household was that as long as you get aces and get a sports or academy scholarship, you can play for as many hours as you want. She wanted me to be a Renaissance woman. That’s why I’m a very versatile person, because my mom allowed me to pursue different passions and interests and never shut it all down.

She took her mother’s advice to heart, becoming a top athlete and blogger while still in high school. While attending Pennington School, a prep boarding school in Pennington, New Jersey, she says she was a highly skilled soccer player and her team was at one point “number one in the country.” At 16, she started the ‘Box of Mess’ blog which indexed and covered high school sports, noting potential prospects for college and professional recruiters.

“The only rule my mom gave us was that there are three ways to go to college; a college scholarship, a sports scholarship, or you’re going to get a job or two and you’re going to cover, ”Simon said.

For college, she attended Rutgers University for a year on a scholarship before transferring to the University of Kentucky. games like Halo 2 and Halo 3 were a minor distraction that she could afford while her teammates and friends were away, knowing that her focus on the sport had to be her priority.

Halo 3
Halo 3. Credit: 343 Industries

But that passion for competitive athletics took an unfortunate turn when Simon suffered an injury resulting in hip surgery that derailed any chance she had to make it to the major leagues. Still, her motivation kept her going, working briefly at an architectural firm after graduation to keep her stable while she looked for the next opportunity.

In 2016, she landed a role on the social team at Revolt TV, the television network owned by musician Sean “Diddy” Combs, although the company she worked with fired her within the year. She remembers 2018 as a “low point” for her, having learned of her unemployment the day before her hip and leg surgery.

“I think it was an epiphany moment when I realized companies don’t care about me. Why should I put all my energy into it, when I could be putting energy into myself, ”said Simon. “So let me focus on putting energy into myself and doing something I’m passionate about. “

At that point, Simon tried his hand at broadcasting in the gaming world, hosting a show on NBA 2K on Twitch and for RedBull on their Conquest fighting game series. Through connections in space, she landed a role as co-host of an esports talk show on Cheddar Esports until it ended in 2020. From there, she was signed by the arts agency Creative Artists Agency and hosted another game talk show for a year. – old VENN game network.

Ben Simmons from NBA 2K21
NBA 2K21. Credit: 2K Games

“I really focused on being the best at what I’m great at, that’s when all of these amazing opportunities came along,” said Simon. “If I’m stressed and exhausted, I’m not going to be good on camera. And if I’m not good on camera, I won’t have more gigs.

But broadcasting is only part of Simon’s mission: to help elevate the conversation around gaming and discuss the endemic issues that hold back progress. She uses her Twitter platform with more than 20,000 subscribers to discuss the need to disengage from the “toxic” fan bases, or recognize that entering the gaming or esports space can be a high barrier to entry (requiring powerful PCs and a high-speed internet connection).

“We have to do a better job of recognizing that racism and sexism are one thing. And it is in electronic sports and games, despite what they say, it is, ”said Simon. “I managed it, a lot of others too. And I think we just need to be more realistic about the issues at hand. And instead of taking it personally or getting upset, I think we can have a more progressive conversation in esports, as people in the industry, about how we can fix these issues.

While it’s a struggle, Simon knows these issues can’t be ignored and the only way the space can change is to talk about them.

“The more we do, the better this industry will improve, and we can build the right systems and fix the problems. And I think that in time we can take the necessary measures. But it all starts with us in the industry, fixing the problems.

You can follow Erin Ashley Simon on Twitter, and the Life is not a game podcast is available to check out on YouTube.

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