It’s December 31st, the year is over, and I’m sitting here at the computer, slightly hungover, tore up from the floor up, trying to process it all. My latest self-assignment for Minority Report was a year-end article that summed up the year on a positive note, as someone pointed out to me that my last few pieces have been pretty tonally negative.
I mean, I suppose there is a point there. The initial idea behind Minority Report was to create a way for me to connect with fans, players, and industry folks who were people of color – people who are often overlooked, or harassed just for doing what they love. It ended up, though, becoming so much more than that. It was a space that allowed me to tell my journey through Overwatch League while exposing the flaws and mistakes it made during in its inaugural season and discussing what it could do to be better. I didn’t find much joy in doing the latter, but it was necessary, with Blizzard’s varying levels of missteps.
However, Overwatch League ultimately made 2018 a transformative year for me. A year I truly needed to happen just the way it did. So after a year of those callouts, of focusing on the bad to help it become good, I’d like to take a moment to do something different. I’d like to, with real sincerity, say “thank you.” And I’m not going to make this fancy, or show off my extensive vocabulary, or try to be acerbic. I’m just going to speak from the heart.
Thank you, to the Overwatch League. For as long as I live, I will never forget how incredible, exciting, and inclusive this inaugural season has been. These were some of the best times of my life, and as old and grumpy as I am, the fact that you were able to embrace my natural passion for the game means more than you could ever understand. From the very first game; to the Grand Finals, to the All-Star Games, I have never felt such joy. I know that the second season will have its ups and downs as well, but I’ll be there screaming my head off each and every time.
Thank you, to the Los Angeles Valiant. They were a team that I picked entirely by accident, but they accepted me as their official hypewoman and gave me opportunities that I never thought were possible. They showed they truly cared about their fans and their community with their Be Valiant program and special events throughout the year; and by doing so, they inspired other teams to do the same. They genuinely are ground-breakers in the esports scene. I’m proud to back a team full of passionate players who give it their all every time, and I’m especially proud of all the managers and coordinators who welcomed me with open arms. I know I’m just a fan, and cannot fully comprehend all of the hard work that you all put into making this team so successful. But I can appreciate it, and I can show you that when the chips are down, I will be there to cheer you on no matter what.
Thank you to Overwatchscore.com and especially to my mentor Brandon Padilla, who believed in me and in what I wanted to say. He took a huge chance, and it turned out to be more successful than either of us could have imagined. I wasn’t sure that pointing out racial inequality in esports would be acceptable, but he encouraged me to keep writing anyway. And now, I have people from all over telling me about how my writing helped them and changed them, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. I was able to start real conversations and help shift the discussion concerning esports. Additionally, with the support of the current writing and editing staff, I hope to improve my style and broaden my scope, to continue telling exciting and thought-provoking stories.
Thank you for my fellow super fans. When I first moved here, it was hard for me to make friends because I was always on the grind. And truthfully, it isn’t easy for me to trust people, especially in a city that is known for its duplicitous nature. But even as a seasoned writer, it is tough for me to put into words how humbled and grateful I am to have such genuine, loving people in my life, who genuinely care about me and my well-being. We are the ones who help give Overwatch League a heart, and we will never back down. You guys are the best friends a woman could ask for, and I love you guys to death.
Thank you to my best friends for life, Elton “Altecha” Kwok and Chris “Widget” DiMauro, for being the architects of probably the best cosplay I’ve ever seen: the Brigitte cosplay they created in secret as my birthday present for Blizzcon. I was not only impressed with how they kept me in the dark for so long but how they were able to take a passing comment I made back in July during New York Excelsior’s Homecoming and make the most incredible armor I’ve ever had the privilege of wearing. It made that weekend so memorable and embodying a character whose personality matches my own filled my heart with more joy than I could ever fathom. And the response? I still get likes and retweets for it, and it happened almost two months ago. I cannot wait to see what you have planned for next year.
Thank you to my family, for being 100% supportive of my journey in esports, and for asking me when I would be on TV so they could see me and cheer me on. Thanks to my mother, for listening to me and reassuring me of my strength when I felt weak. My sister, for reminding me that life is just ridiculous sometimes and that I should roll with it. My brother, for constantly reviving my passion for video games by sharing his with me. Last, to my father, for keeping me on my feet when I felt like I couldn’t move anymore. Even after my grandmother’s death, our family’s resilience shows, and we are now closer than we have ever been.
Finally, I wanted to thank you. Yes, you, the person who is reading this right now. I know I can be very blunt when I speak my mind, but you stuck by me. You retweeted and up-voted my articles. You are those who sparked real discussions (good and bad) about the content – discussions that helped change the way that people think. I cannot begin to express how much it means to me that you are willing to listen to what I had to say. Understand that you are more powerful than you could ever know. We can make esports an inclusive, exciting space for everyone, and to allow me to help you make that happen with my work is a dream come true. I hope I can continue to make you think, to make you feel, and to remind you that it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes, as that generates real and lasting change.
I will admit, it was challenging for me to write this article since I am unsure of what 2019 will bring. I want to have this year end on a positive note, yet with all of the good that happened, I can’t deny that a lot of bad came with it. A lot of things that I believed would carry over into 2019 simply were not meant to do so. I saw a lot of friendships end, a lot of trusts broken, and a healthy reminder that I need to be more careful about who I allow around me. Conversely, I’ve received a lot of incredible opportunities, including chances to learn from the hardships this year threw my way.
Most importantly, I learned that sometimes things don’t go your way – and it’s not within your control, nor is it your fault. But what you can control is how you react to adversity, no matter how big or small. My promise is that I choose to respond proactively and positively, even when it feels like the end.
For as the artist Childish Gambino said earlier this year: “I think endings are good because they force things to get better.”
So here’s to a better 2019.
Keep fighting and keep smiling,