Stephanie Harvey, Pro Gamer
The first time I spoke with Stephanie, I was lucky to get in touch with her just before she hopped on a long flight to China for the World Electronic Sports Games finals. This was only one of many trips she has taken this year to compete as a professional gamer. A five-time world champion in competitive Counter-Strike, Stephanie Harvey is a pro gamer who currently plays video games for Counter-Logic Gaming. She is also DreamHack Montreal’s spokesperson as well as the OMEN by HP Canada ambassador. She has also worked as a game designer for Ubisoft.
Her 15 years in esports as a player and 7 in the industry as a developer awarded her a Forbes 30 under 30 title and one of the BBC 100 women. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, she also won Canada’s Smartest Person Season 3 on CBC and was voted Quebec City’s personality of 2017 by ICI Radio-Canada Quebec TV. Aside from her résumé and accolades, Stephanie is a big advocate for diversity in the gaming industry, which ended up being one of the topics we broached with her Meditations on Tech interview. See below for some of the questions that we discussed regarding how the sports industry has evolved over time and how she landed in her current position. Learn more about Stephanie by checking her out on Instagram at @stepharvey
Tell me a bit about yourself and how you ended up where you are today.
Hello, my name is Stephanie Harvey and I am known as missharvey in the gaming community. I am a professional gamer and a gaming personality. I have been gaming my whole life but I am now fortunate enough to be able to do this for a living. After my architecture studies, I decided to go into gaming and was very inspired by the game designer job. I completed a degree in it and started working as a game developer at Ubisoft Montreal a little bit after. While I was learning how to make games, I was also doing competitive gaming on the side. What started as a passion eventually became so big that I had to eventually make a choice and jumped in it fully a couple years ago! I am now a pro gamer, content creator and an advocate for geek and gaming diversity.
Can you describe some of the recent changes that you’ve seen take place in the pro-gaming industry? How has it evolved over the years?
When competitive gaming started to be a thing, we took it very seriously, but it was still just a hobby. Everyone’s goal was to be the best in the world but most players could not do this as a fulltime job; we had to do something on the side. I remember studying or working full time and practicing over 5 to 6 hours with my team at night as well. You really did this out of passion because the time invested into the game was not worth the money. Now, it’s a completely different story. Because of the increased number of players and viewership, the investments exploded and it now allows pro players and other jobs around it to do this as a living. It is considered as a full on professional sport and requires the same amount of support all across it as regular sports.
What do you think needs to happen in order for esports to encourage more female participation? And, why is this important?
This is a very difficult question to answer. I don’t think anyone has the magical answer at the moment and I believe it’s more a combination of smaller initiatives and time that will help us get to gender equality in esports. It is important to reach that for multiple reasons but the main one is that we are just stronger as a society with diversity. It pushes people up, it gives us lots of angles from which to attack problems from and would mean a stronger and better esports for all.
One thing for sure is that letting things go and hoping to see more female into esports would be silly. Yes there are more female gamers now than ever before but within esports, this number is still incredibly low. To help it grow, we need more female gaming incubators, more role models, a better career path for our youth to pursue esports, safer gaming environments for minorities, tools to support all of this inside the game and the communities, etc. There is no right way to do this, we just need to do more to help girls get into the space.
If you could go back and tell your younger self some advice when entering the pro gaming world, what would that advice be?
Well first of all that it is one of the most awesome place to be and that anything can happen! To never give up and never take things for granted cause you never know when it’s gonna end. Keep working hard and try to balance your life around gaming without ever losing sight of your goal. Focus on you and your progress, don’t compare yourself to others and especially don’t get discouraged when facing adversities. Learn what you can from them and then continue your journey. It’s only gonna make you stronger in the end.
If someone were just starting out in esports, what steps do you believe they should take in order to build a meaningful career in the industry?
I would say be humble and willing to learn; you might have to be self taught on a lot of things but never lose the drive to continue progressing and expanding your skills. There is no specific path to success in esports, no matter the job you wish to do. Whether you want to become a pro player, a journalist, a team manager, etc. look at others that inspire you and take what you can from their journey that can be applied to you. Give yourself achievable goals and treat this like any other job you would have, with professionalism and organization.
You have already done so much in your career, what are you hoping to achieve next?
There are two things I want for the next year or so. Secure my brand and my career to be able to continue being my own boss for a long time, if not forever and I want to have more impact on the youth and our society in general. I want to give back to the community and I think we forget to talk about the internet with the younger generations. Not only is it now fully integrated into our life but it is something one can’t really escape. Unfortunately, we have no idea how to interact online and we kinda just let our kids struggle with everything that has to do it with until it can become cyberbullying or cyberdependance. There are so many great things about our connected society, way more than the negatives, and because of that, it seems we aren’t proactive about teaching kids, parents and teachers, on how to deal with our social interactions online. I want to help with that so my goal this year will be to find a way to make a difference there.