Stretch and Relax with Matt on Esports
Matt Buchholtz is an avid competitive gamer and esports enthusiast, writing for gaming publications, covering everything from MOBAs to First-Person Shooters on stream and in-game. He also hosts podcasts, and does graphic design for multiple gaming projects. Q: What is your perspective on gaming and eSports in culture today? I saw someone wearing an esports snapback for the first time a couple weeks ago on the Los Angeles subway. The other people around probably had no idea. There we are cruising beneath Hollywood & Vine and some dude is just repping a team he believes in. I've seen people wear gaming shirts that they picked up at a convention, or Hot Topic, or online somewhere—but this was legit. We never would've seen this a couple years ago even. When I used to play Counter-Strike, this didn't exist. You used to load up your friend's Nissan with your monitor and your gear and spend the weekend in a stank-filled hotel ballroom. And that was if you were lucky. Competing for a coupon to Anthony's Pizza or something. That was eSports then. Now, look at the CS:GO Majors. What, 1.6 million people watching in Columbus? That's insane, and so f*cking exciting, because it's only going up from here. Q: As a creative person are there things about gaming and esports that inspire you? Oh, man, everything. It's really easy to say that the game's art and characters inspire me, because those are always a part of it, but with gaming, you're living as these characters. What's it mean when someone asks me what I play and I say, "I'm an AD Carry?" What's that say about me? Finding a way to represent that facet of my personality is super fun and challenging. You really end up digging into the psychology of it. Is a support player a minimalist? How about the guy who you toss an AWP to? Finding ways to visually communicate those aspects of gaming really inspire me to create. Q: Where do you see gaming and esports going in the future? Here's what I dream of: Being able to get off the plane and ask someone where I can grab a pint and watch the Spring Championship, and they know what I'm talking about and send me to a great bar. We're not to that point yet, but we're getting closer. The gaming community is desperately wanting to connect and celebrate with other fans. Whether that's a specific game or a specific [esports] team, the future is going to hold more opportunities to do so. As esports continue to acquire the proper infrastructure to support their rapid growth, I feel like this future is not far off. Q: What sort of need for premium product design do you see within gaming and esports? Esports and gaming are finally getting yanked out of the novelty phase. Consumers are tired of being handed merch that has the blocked out cover-art for the game on it, slapped on a generic, unisex tee. They want something that delivers on their excitement and passion for the product. They want something authentic, that doesn't read like a try-hard. Whether this is clothing or premium gear like headsets, controllers, mice—everyone wants a way to express themselves. I feel that to design these things, you need to have a creative team that really lives for the product the way that gamers and esports fans do. So I see it not only finding new products to offer, but also elevating already commonplace products like controller and console skins to a respectable level.