I’ve got a bit of time before World’s kicks back in to high gear today, so I thought I’d do a short blog post about my experience with things from a backstage perspective. Like I’ve outlined before, I’m currently at the League of Legends World Championships on a freelance press pass, and I’ve been producing video interviews for LoLKing.net; it’s been an interesting experience before, especially when this is my first North American event.
For those who’ve been watching from home, you’ve seen only one part of the studio; of course, there’s the stage where the players play, the interview lounge and the analyst’s desk, but there’s also two separate backstage areas. One contains the press room, catering, a lounge for watching the games, and rooms devoted to OGN production, on-air talent (the casters and analysts) and what looks like make-up. This is where I’ve been staying, and if you have a press pass, this is all you can access.
There’s also a second backstage area that contains a screen which journalists have been using to film interviews in front of, numerous practice rooms for players, as well as lounges for them to watch the game. I was back here briefly on the first day, before I was told that I needed a separate level of clearance in order to be there. Whoops. Interestingly enough, if we want to use the interview backdrop, we need an escort from one of Riot’s press/PR people; I usually just choose to use a wall instead.
Both of these sections contribute to a thriving ecosystem that lets the event function, and it’s fascinating to see so many moving parts comprise a whole. Since the first area (with our press lounge) is the only way out into the studio floor, there’s a lot of traffic from prominent people; there have been times where I wheel around to say “Oh, that’s X”, only to find them around the corner already. As a League fan, watching a game with Scarra and hearing his commentary pretty damned cool.
After meeting a lot of these people, it’s really easy to generalize them under one big “nice” label, but it’s true: while people are there to work and are usually pretty ragged from the production, they’ve been good about sparing a moment to chat, or at least a friendly fist bump in the hallway. I get a warm feeling when someone actually recognizes who I am, which I think is a bit of the newbie jitters – it’s flattering to hear that my work’s made some kind of an impact.
I’ve also gotten to know a couple of Rioters who are doing a lot of the pavement-pounding volunteer stuff, and they’ve been absolutely awesome. I know Riot can get some flack for being a bit of a cult atmosphere, but there are people who work so hard that they definitely deserve the praise they get. Seriously, hug a Rioter.
Otherwise, one of the main things that I’ve learned from this trip is an appreciation for the game itself. I’ve always rationalized myself as more interested in the people behind the usernames instead of the actual match itself; something about statistics, individual choices and recognizing patterns was always lost on me. However, paying attention to this kind of thing becomes a lot easier in the crowd or lounge setting; there’s less distractions, less second monitors with Twitter/Tumblr/Reddit feeds, and less things that I think I should be doing instead.
It’s allowed me to pay attention a lot more, and bring things that I thought were a bit useless into my interviews; you can really find a lot out about a player’s personality when he/she reacts to someone who’s taken notes and asks for specifics.
There’s a whole other post I want to write about my methodology for my interviews and the stuff I’ve learned by doing on this trip, but I think I’m going to save that for another time. I’ve got a shower to take and a shirt to iron.
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