I have many fond memories of playing video games when I was growing up. I remember spending countless hours in front of a monitor or television screen, fully absorbed in the various new digital worlds before me. Video games such as the Final Fantasy series have played such a pivotal role in my life that I chose Black Mage as my in-game name, a nod to the iconic character class in Final Fantasy.
Through the years, playing games has taught me many valuable lessons, such as how to think outside the box, how to face your fears, and, perhaps one of the most important lessons — how to evolve and adapt, or “level up” as we gamers say.
This mindset has given me the chance to explore my passions, whether it be cosplay, art, my cosmetics brand Alodia Beauty or Tier One Entertainment, the gaming and esports company I co-founded.
Many of these pursuits would be considered non-conventional, or against the grain of what is accepted by society, Filipino or otherwise. That’s a reality that existed not only for me, but for every gamer.
Chances are, if you identified as a gamer, you’d be faced with parents, teachers, or mainstream media telling you that video games are a waste of time or a bad influence. Despite the meteoric rise of gaming and esports as a global phenomenon over the last several years — the million-dollar prize pools, the billions of views for gaming streamers on Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and other platforms — it was a cultural shift that our country seemed largely resistant to. The negative outlook toward gaming had crept into the minds of so many people.
But let's focus on the positives. Today, I have been asked to describe a vision of the future, asking “What if we took esports more seriously?”
I want you to imagine that future: A future where esports, and indeed gaming, is not only accepted in the Philippines, but also celebrated. No longer will our athletes have to scramble for support. No longer will parents decry a love of video games as a dead-end aspiration or a waste of time for their children.
Gaming will be seen as a viable career, not just in terms of being a professional athlete, but also as a content creator, whether as a streamer or vlogger. Being a gamer wouldn’t be seen as a disparaging label or a cause for stigma, but as just a natural facet of any human being’s interests, equivalent to being a foodie, fashionista or a cat person. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
What if I told you that future is now?
Since our inception, we at Tier One Entertainment have made it our mission to bridge the gap between gaming and mainstream society. We want to elevate the image of gamers by showcasing top-tier talents that have transformed the image of gamers, and world-class esports athletes with our Blacklist International teams.
I’m proud to say that after five years of operation, we’re largely succeeding in our goal. Our talents and players continue to challenge the status quo and break barriers, especially those like Lincoln “Cong TV” Velasquez, Jonmar “OhMyV33NUS” Villaluna, and Dexie Diaz.
In just two short years, Blacklist International has become the new standard for how a Philippine esports organization should look, sound, and play. Our players get international recognition as the best in their respective roles. We’ve won multiple championships and even grabbed the gold at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
Gaming is the future, and one that we’ve been building brick by brick for over half a decade now. Just imagine what we could achieve with more support from different industries. We could see even more of the youth pursue their gaming dreams.
To me, this is not even a question of “What if?” anymore. Video games and esports are here to stay—whether some people realize it or not.
Instead of “What if?", ask instead “When?” And we’ll continue to work until the answer is finally “Now.”