3 Fatal Errors to make when you want to get someone’s attention

I’d say that I enjoy a certain amount of attention from fans and I do get a fair number of private messages from people whom I totally do not know.
I’m sure that even if you don’t private message me, you might private message someone else, and you’d want a reply from that person.
I have to admit that I myself have sent out some fan-ish messages to people I admire. And guess what, my success rate is GREAT! =x
So, as someone who receives messages and also sends messages, let me impart some advice on how to increase your success rate of getting a reply.

If there is one message that you should take home from this… it is that :
Golden rule #1 Being on someone’s friend list, buddy list or fan page does not mean that the person automatically knows you. So approach him or her as though you were approaching a stranger. Knowing about that person’s life and thoughts does not mean the person knows you too.

So, keeping that rule in mind, here are the 3 worst things that you can do to start your first message.

1. HI! Can I ask you a question please?
I mean… ok… this is more or less a rhetorical question. It is unlikely that I, or anyone would refuse an audience to someone who wants to ask a question. Especially when I have no idea what you will be asked.
This is annoying though, because that in itself, is ALREADY a question, and I would have to spend one message replying “yeah sure, go ahead” when I could have spent it actually REPLYING the question.

While we are talking about questions….

2. Asking me something which I’ve repeatedly replied to in public, or which can easily be googled.
I’m helpful… but if this kind of question catches me in a bad mood, you’re likely to get a snappy reply. Luckily for many people, I normally reserve my best of moods to read private messages and fan mail.
Golden rule #2 : asking someone something, anything, should be a last resort. Try asking google first… or doing some background research on your own before asking someone. Or thinking. Thinking is actually a very useful skill to have.

3. This last WORST thing you can do leads me back to Golden rule #1. And that is being rude.
Just remember that the person you are messaging probably, and by probably I mean 99%, doesn’t know who you are, and you’re just as unlikely to really know the person too, as much as you might think you do. So please do not assume to know that person, and please don’t expect a reply (a nice one at least) if you overstep your boundaries.
I get random messages asking me to perform various sexual favours, or on the milder side, messages containing false assumptions which have been made about me.
Just because it’s online, and you’re safe from a slap on the face, doesn’t mean its ok!

That said, HOW do you get a reply, and even better, put a smile on that person’s face?
Here are some quick tips

1. Give them something nice.
For example, if someone makes me a nice banner pic which I can use on my profile, or twitch (nono… I’m not hinting for a pile of banner pics… I’m quite happy with mine) I’d be very pleased, and would most likely repost it for everyone to see and appreciate.

2. Don’t ask for anything. Not in the first message, anyway.
Some of the posts that I’ve immediately closed and moved on from involve people asking me to do something elaborate or time consuming. I normally will repost interesting info if people ask me to, and if I find it interesting, cos it’s easy and quick to do. But if someone asks me to say… trade DotA2 items, I’m going to walk away from that because firstly, I don’t really bother too much about my items and secondly, it would take too much effort.
Similarly, if someone asks me for a fansign, it is unlikely that I’m going to spend at least 45minutes designing the fan sign, putting on make up, taking pictures etc.  (so, if you want a fan sign you’ve gotta work for it, probably when I run one of my promos… if ever.)

3. Say something nice, but don’t pile on the flattery.
Telling someone how much you admire them for a good quality they possess is normally irresistable. And  by GOOD QUALITY, I don’t mean oh you look so cute in your picture. I mean something deeper and more meaningful than exterior appearances.
I once told a photographer how I admired her passion for photography and how it moved me to learn about the odds she had to overcome to get to where she was. If I, instead had told her, “Oh this pic you took is so awesome!” I’m pretty sure it would just have been swept away and ignored.
It’s normally evident when someone is sincere, as opposed to just being blinded by fandom.

SO. I hope this helps.
AND, if you try this on me, I will kill you.


Why there aren’t enough professional gamers out there.
Save for countries like China and Korea, it’s hard to say that professional gaming is an accepted sport, where the gamers live together and follow strict training schedules.
In most countries and societies, gaming is seen as entertainment; a past time, something to be done in one’s spare time, and not as a real job.

Why the gamers are scared
There has been more than one case of gamers being promised something, and organisations/sponsors falling short. Almost every single gamer out there will have a horror story to tell of funds not being paid out, not being reimbursed, managers running off with the sponsored items and cash…
Being a gamer doesn’t put you above the daily needs of a normal person – there are bills to be paid, expenses, and the occassional movie for when a gamer decides to come out of his shell – and spending time NOT holding a proper job is bad enough already (in the eyes of society, family… etc) but to not get duly paid WHILE putting in all that effort is just one big turn off.
Pressure from family and friends will eventually mean that the gamer has to go back to society to find a “proper job”, where he’ll be competing with others who probably already  have a couple years of work experience.

Apart from that, you can almost hear the sound of their dreams of going pro crashing around them…

We’re not here to gloat or to point fingers but simply to draw attention to the people who always suffer in these matters – the players. The young professionals who have high hopes of making a living from their passion. When they are let down the ramifications for the whole of e-sports are dire. The owners generally walk away unscathed, the sponsors too. The players are left not only wondering when they will receive what they are due but whether or not they can continue competing at all, whether it would be a better option to stop and take that office job where contracts actually mean something and your pay arrives in your bank account at a precise minute.

“From This Mortal Coil”  http://www.cadred.org/News/Article/191506/
(this is the article which sparked off my entire post btw…)

Why the sponsors are scared
Teams are volatile things. Oftentimes, it just takes one semi major argument to blow everything to bits, and organisations are left without a squad. Replacing them is theoretically an easy thing – many aspiring gamers, funds on hand – but in reality, putting a team of 5 together is a very delicate procedure. Keeping the 5 together for more than 6 months is practically an act of God.
So, when your “talent” doesn’t stay together, and they don’t rather put their own interests and decisions above the collective, as most gamers do, teams fall apart.

How this is relevant to me.
I’ve taken the path less trodden. despite my education I chose to stray from a mainstream career and have immersed myself in the gaming industry and community for the past decade or so. I have to admit that I get lots of comforting comments like :
(from a career woman my age) well, i’m pretty sure that most of us on this side of the fence would much rather be on your side of the fence where you’re doing what you enjoy for a living.
(from a male ex-schoolmate)wow… you’re living my childhood dream man…

But at the same time, it’s hard. The money isn’t as good as it is out there, and most of the time it’s a thankless job. People are more ready to point fingers and criticise than they are to compliment and help make things better.

A short while ago, I was contemplating giving in to the pressures of growing up and applying for a mainstream job in a large corporate company.
Then, I got offers to remain in the eSports scene, and more offers… and more offers.
At this point in time though, they are just that. Offers. Nothing concrete, but the potential and frequency makes me believe that I can continue doing this, for a while more. And I want to make things better.

Having the experience of both ends of the spectrum – the gamer and the sponsor/organiser/manager – makes it clearer for me to do things.
There’s room for improvement and learning, definitely, but what I have so far, helps me.

And I believe, that it is people like me, who are gamers moving into careers into the gaming industry, who will spearhead the changes to make professional gaming a reality for talented gamers out there.

I hope I live to see the day.