As 2020 nears, there can be no doubt we are living in a golden age. Technology is consistently improving, exceeding its previous achievements and becoming enmeshed in every facet of our lives. Even though traditional methods of communication are quickly being outpaced by new ones, we still cling to the idea that historical experience is the “right way” of solving problems in systems integration. We like to think that past successes guarantee future results, but is that the case?
I have learned a valuable piece of information during my brief time in this industry; this fact has been repeated to me over and over again by industry colleagues. At some point, when you have reached a peak in the company you represent, you will likely leverage your network of #AVtweeps to find a position somewhere else. While a transition can be extremely valuable, people may find themselves stuck in the revolving door. They essentially take their previous experience and apply it to new situations, leaving little room for innovation in process and perspective. This revolving door has proved to be extremely dangerous as new talent cannot correctly funnel into the industry when the experience of market veterans is valued so highly.
Experience is incredibly important, but it is not the single determining factor of success. Job skills come in many shapes and forms.
Esports is exactly what our industry needs right now, and several firms have started to take notice; however, I don’t think people yet see all the benefits it will bring to commercial integration in the next five to 10 years. Projects are starting to pop up with high-value budgets behind them. The demand for advanced audio systems and dazzling digital displays in esports arenas have people relying on their past knowledge to manage these projects effectively and efficiently. The value really comes from the players who are living the AV experience each time they step into venues with state-of-the-art features that make an immediate impression on tech-savvy attendees.
Imagine stepping into an MLB or NFL stadium for the first time. There are certain sensory elements from this experience that have converted children to lifetime, diehard sports fans. The same experience exists for fans of esports.
A million different variables can change the outcome of a match. With games won by one quick shot or supportive assist, the entire round may hang on one millisecond of action; when the crucial gameplay is sustained for long periods of time, fans will remain on the edge of their seat. Add to this the power of the experience facilitated by integrated audio and video and you get an environment that drives the passion within people.
As fans leave the venue, they are often left yearning for more. They will not easily forget the tense moment when everyone fell silent waiting for their favorite team to make an amazing play and win the world championship trophy. They will never forget the replay shown on a narrow-pixel-pitch LED videowall that showed the exact moment when the tides of the game turned. Just as in traditional sports, esports fans identify with the players and aspire to reach the same level success in the games that they play day in and day out. Fans of gaming could join the next wave of AV superstars.
Gaming requires more than a standard off-the-shelf computer. Some may take their first step toward becoming a professional gamer when they build a tricked-out gaming rig capable of running games at high resolution and low latency. The computer almost has to be reverse-engineered; you have to consider what the gaming rig needs to accomplish before you start the design process. This has parallels in our industry to the way communication with end users is serviced. We need to understand how the technology will be used before we start selecting the inputs needed to build it.
Along with figuring out the need, multiple parts within a desktop tower need to be specified to provide peak performance. These specifications—such as refresh rate, power consumption, response time, and frames per second—are terms that those in AV installations are already familiar with. The fact that kids as young as 11 are already aware of what components will make their computers the best of the best is a plus for integrators worried about attracting future talent.
Once all the components are selected, it becomes time to turn the parts into a fully functioning device. Cables are routed and sorted through the chassis from motherboard inputs in an orderly fashion to avoid overheating and cable tension. At the end of the build, gamers are left with a solution that meets their desired outcomes, similar to the way integrators create turnkey systems to satisfy the needs of their clients.
Esports also offers an opportunity for the development of soft skills. To become a master of any craft, you’ve got to put in the hours of practice. Just as integrators and installers spend much of their time learning about new technologies and how to install them, gamers are constantly learning new strategies that can be deployed to come ahead with a victory. This mindset means that you bring your best each and every time an opportunity arises. A competitive spirit encourages people to identify critical problems when they arise and adapt quickly to solve them. Having a winner’s mindset allows us to offer the best possible product when it is needed. It also keeps people hungry and driven for successes in the future.
With all this in mind, integrators should consider gamers for positions within the AV industry. These digital nomads are the perfect partners to help take the industry to new heights. In a tech-driven landscape, it definitely helps having people who understand specifications and technical needs. Gamers are always looking to use their advantages, whether through tech or developing solutions through critical analysis and problem solving.
This could be a great time for AV veterans to provide mentorship to a gamer looking for a life career path building one-of-a-kind digital experiences. This meeting of minds could be the thing we need to combat the pro AV industry’s upcoming demographic shift.