Over this past weekend at Insomnia Gaming Festival, Mountain Dew hosted the grand final of the Rocket Fuel ‘Game Fuel League’ – a competitive tournament for amateur Rocket League teams. Jaime Bickford aka Karma, the 25-year-old captain of professional esports team Splyce were also in attendance and gamers had the chance to meet her and the team to hear about what it is like to play professionally.
Ahead of the event, we caught up with Jaime to find out a little bit more about her role as Splyce team captain, being a woman in the male-dominated world of gaming, and more!
Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and how you came to be playing in the Mountain Dew Game Fuel League?
So I started playing basketball when I was younger so you could say as soon as I was born you would always find me with a basketball in my hand. Because of that I really enjoyed competing and always had aspirations to play at a high-level college, maybe even professionally. However I was born with health issues that ended up catching up to me at the beginning of high school which made me gave to give it up and that’s how I started gaming as I found it fuelled my competitive fire and filled the place of sports for me and I have just been competing ever since. Mountain Dew got involved with Splyce which is the team that I play for, for Rocket league and we are here at Insomnia hoping to ignite everyone’s interest in Rocket League.
You're the captain of Splyce - what's that whole experience like?
It’s hard to put the experience that I have had in the last year into words because honestly it’s just been life changing. You get to travel around the world and do what I love doing which is competing which is something that I have always wanted to do since I was a kid so to be able to do that now at 25 years of age going through the journey that I have gone through is indescribable. As far as being a captain, I really embrace the role because I have always found myself being a leader, I’ve never been one to follow, I like to speak my mind, the role comes with a lot of pressure, but I really enjoy it.
You've got Insomnia coming up; what are you most looking forward to at that event?
I’m most looking forward to meeting everyone who comes to the event and making connections, I really enjoy meeting new people and asking them about their passions and gaming, what brought them here and how gaming changed their life and I just really enjoy hearing everyone’s stories. I love getting to spend time with my team outside of competition in a more relaxed setting like this. Seeing how much the gaming industry has grown with events like these and how many people attend when compared to five years ago is awesome to see.
As a woman in this industry which is typically male-dominated, how did you find carving your path?
I get female questions a lot, but I seem to always struggle with an answer. The path that I’ve had has been really difficult in a lot of ways. It’s hard because I have been doing this since I was 15 years old, so for 10 years I have always approached this industry as if there were no gender differences. I like to approach my career as if I were a man in terms of wanting to be better than the other guys, I want to play at just as higher level and just because of my gender I approach it as I shouldn’t be treated any differently. I don’t expect help from anyone and just try to be so good that I can’t be ignored.
Do you think women have to work harder to prove themselves in this industry?
Absolutely, I think women have to work harder to prove themselves in every industry. In gaming it’s probably a bit heightened because of the societal norms that come with video games. Most girls are thought to not be home playing video games like guys are. So, when you are playing in competition on a male team as society would tell us, men are generally better in competitions and that’s just what society accepts as the norm. So you just have to kind of prove and earn the respect of other people by being better than most of your competition.
How does the training regime work ahead of competitions?
The training regime before competitions is similar to that of a competitive team of any other sport. We go to a certain location typically and we all live together in a house for a and we call it boot camping. So, once you are in the house you are all on the same page and your practicing anywhere between 4-8hrs sometimes more each day, with other teams or individually, however you find the need to improve yourself, trying to prepare for an event. It’s just like a job and a lot of people who see that as unhealthy, but a lot of people work at computers for eight hours a day. We do however do it in a healthy way, we make sure we take breaks, do a workout outside of the games to try and keep ourselves physically fit because that’s important for performance too and this usually lasts for about a week to a week and a half at a time.
What advice do you have for others, and particularly females, when it comes to making it in this sort of career?
To be too good at what you are doing to be ignored, that way no matter what you are trying to prove yourself in they take you seriously. That was a really hard thing for me when I was first starting out was to be taken seriously even though I was good for a long time I wasn’t taken seriously because of my gender. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love. Somebody has to be the first one to do it so why not let that be you?
Are there any other games you're really enjoying at the moment?
Rocket League takes up a lot of my time because I do enjoy that game outside of just playing it professionally which is probably a surprise to most people. I usually just play the games that my friends play because I’m working from home and because of nature of this job I have friends from all around the world and one of the great things about gaming is that it connects us all, so I usually just play whatever my friends play so we can maintain that connection and reconnect even though we are far away to just enjoy spending time together.
There are some huge games coming out over the next few months and years; are you excited about any of these?
I’ve always enjoyed call of duty since I was young so every time they release a game I am always interested and to see it go back to what it used to be which is the game that I enjoyed so I always keep an eye on that. As far as the other games go because I am so focused on competition I am not really sure on what other games are coming out so usually I rely on my friends for that.
Jaime spent this past weekend at Insomnia Gaming Festival, where gamers got the chance to meet her and Team Splyce at Mountain Dew’s Big Betty, the world’s first esports truck. Mountain Dew has delivered the perfect refreshing citrus blast that gamers enjoy for more than a decade.
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