This week, we were joined by Frankie Ward – an esports host, presenter and streamer who has bucketloads of experience across the gaming industry and traditional media. She’s worked for the BBC, Channel 4, radio stations and most of the key players in the esports industry, and she started her career as a producer.
A lifelong gamer, Ward covered the League of Legends World Championship at Wembley Arena for the BBC. That’s when she realised that she could work in gaming.
Ward began her Intel FutureGen session by outlining her career before her life in esports – and explaining how skills learned there translated to the esports industry.
One of the most important things to learn, Ward said, was something she realised years ago – that working hard and being personable will open doors.
Ward also explained that she was able to build up her skill set in different roles – in her producing days she learned about filming, editing, team management and more, and that knowledge benefits her today.
After her visit to Wembley, Ward became a producer at Twitch. She produced shows in Europe and the US, and focused on Twitch partners, new games and esports.
When she joined Twitch, Ward didn’t have a huge amount of games knowledge – but she did bring experience from traditional media. This was important, because few people at Twitch had that – Ward described it as a successful marriage of different skills.
She outlined her data-driven approach, which is something developed at the BBC – she would track analytics to discover what worked and what didn’t in order to refine future broadcasts.
Ward’s time at Twitch saw her dive head-first into streaming – she bought a PC and became part of the audience. That ties in to one of Ward’s key pieces of advice: when you’re producing and presenting, you’re doing it for the audience, so it’s vital to get to know them.
Ward fell into occasional hosting at Twitch, and hosted a weekly show for Ginx TV. In 2018 she hosted the UK and Ireland Hearthstone Premiership finals for ESL, but she also left Twitch.
Ward moved to full-time presenting, and she was able to email old contacts from her production days and land work – proving that making good contacts really can pay off. She also explained that smaller jobs helped her move to bigger roles.
So, how does Ward make this work? For her, it’s about several key factors. Her contacts and connections, for starters – if you’re well-liked and have a good reputation you’ll benefit. Her production background also means she can tackle loads of different jobs – she says it’s important to not stick to just one role.
There are other helpful factors cited by Ward. Being receptive to feedback is vital, and so is knowing your voice, interests and strengths in any workplace. It’s important to not take mistakes to heart, too – they’re inevitable.
Ward is hugely reliant on preparation, too: she does loads of research and talks to players before interviews.
Ward also answered questions from the audience. In response to the first query, Ward explained that she writes her own questions when interviewing – but she consults analysts, producers and casters to see if they want anything covered. As with so many esports roles, it's collaborative.
Ward also addressed how she handles criticism. Ward’s method took a long time to learn, but it boils down to a simple rule: ignore random people on the internet, and listen to her peers and producers instead.
This week, the Intel FutureGen 2020 guest is Will Lowther, Head of Business Development at UK games studio Splash Damage. Tune in to www.twitch.tv/nse_gg at 2pm BST this Wednesday to watch it live.