Sp4zie and fan
Greetings from SummonersCon

A Gamer & His Non-gamer Parent Visit Video Game Land

I just returned from a strange land, but it’s one worth knowing about. My son and I went to SummonersCon, a meetup in Pomona, California, for the enthusiastic video gamers and “summoners” who play the multiplayer online game known as “League of Legends” or simply “League.”

This pursuit may seem like an obscure diversion to “non-gamers.” But the sheer scale of competitive gaming and its sidekick — making videos about gaming — is astonishing, especially if you or your organization have worked to build a following on social media and you know the energy that entails. Consider the guests of honor we met:

Sp4zie: One of the conference co-hosts, the bespectacled young man with a mop of hair pictured above, is based in Sweden and has a whopping 969K YouTube subscribers who watch him as he narrates his gameplay on League of Legends. His intro video in which he introduces himself and his “plant-ie” has garnered 1.98 million views since he posted it a year ago. Like many YouTubers, he has a second channel about his life (“IRL, in real life.”)

Keyori: From the UK. He has 950K YouTube subscribers and nearly 73K Twitter followers. We met him in the hotel lobby on the eve of the convention and he couldn’t have been nicer. He is engaged to Jaynee, aka JayneeWasTaken. She has 428K YouTube subscribers and nearly 37K Twitter followers.

UberDanger: My son’s current fave. He’s from Denmark and has 940K YouTube subscribers.

MagiKarpUsedFly: Another friendly person, he has 370K subscribers and lives in LA. He came from a corporate video background and makes his living via YouTube.

Gbay99: We met him as we were leaving the hotel. He has 313K YouTube subscribers.

Unexpected Hugs

YouTube stars tend to swear nonstop as they talk on their videos about their gaming conquests, trash talk opponents, laugh at themselves, and do silly things. This parent wasn’t sure what to expect in person. Surprisingly, though, the ones we met came across as sweet and unassuming. Sp4zie and UberDanger enthusiastically hugged and posed for a picture with each fan and answered questions. (People waited 30 minutes in line for the privilege of meeting the stars after standing outdoors for more than 90 minutes to get into the conference. People flew in from Florida and drove from across LA. We came from the San Francisco Bay Area.)

So what is this ‘League’? Riot Games, the publisher behind League, says “League of Legends is a fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements.” For you fellow newbies, that’s real-time strategy and role-playing game. It is highly addictive. The average player has put in 500 hours of gaming time and countless hours watching videos about playing the game.

Besides meeting YouTube idols, one could game at SummonersCon at various stations around a conference hall, make arts and crafts, attend panels including “Why Gamers Need Feminism,” or buy artwork, much of it voluptuous and influenced by Japanese anime, or animation with colorful characters and, as Wikipedia says, “fantastical themes.”

Making History, Dumbfounding Parents

We heard a YouTuber named Blakinola rapping a new League-inspired song and saw many people in costumes (dressing up is known as cosplay.) There were professional players gaming and walking around — yes, they earn money and there’s a worldwide championship that pays prizes in the millions of dollars. Competitive gaming is now called e-sports and universities, including UCLA, and some high schools have club teams. One institution of higher learning — Robert Morris University Illinois — just added gaming as a varsity sport. CNN hailed the milestone as “making history and dumbfounding parents.”

What can we learn from this ardent community, particularly the video stars?

• Enjoy the process of making videos.

• Make videos with like-minded friends.

• Attend conferences and meet people face-to-face.

The conference was a hit in our family. Our teen wants to return next year with a special green “Challenger” ticket to have one-on-one time with the stars and gain more inside tips on strategy and building a robust YouTube following.