Erin Ashley Simon: NFL and ESPN Host and One of the Leading Women in esports – Disrupting the Industry to be More Diverse and Inclusive

Erin Ashley Simon: NFL and ESPN Host and One of the Leading Women in esports – Disrupting the Industry to be More Diverse and Inclusive

I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Ashley Simon.

Erin Ashley Simon is one of the leading Women of Color in esports. She’s a multi-media host and producer, and a consultant within esports, gaming, and entertainment. As co-owner of the gaming and lifestyle organization XSET, Erin helps shape the culture and facilitate connections and content in and around music and entertainment.

How did you get started in the e-gaming industry?

It’s so funny, I kind of stumbled into this industry. I’ve been working in media and entertainment since I was 17, so I’m 30 now. I would say within the last five to six years, there’s a period of time and I think it was 2018 where I got laid off from a company and I said “You know what? I really love gaming. I really love entertainment and music.

I want to find a way to combine all of my passions together. ” I started covering gaming at the intersection of pop culture. Then from there, I started covering the NBA 2K league. Then my friend was like “Hey, we’re doing a show. We need a cohost. Would we love to do it?” I was like “Yeah, sure, why not?”

That was the beginning of my broadcasting career in this space, which then led to me working behind the scenes and gaming. It all honestly started because a friend needed help and I said yes, and I realized “Oh, I’m pretty good at this.” It just went from there.

How has the industry changed since you first started in it?

I think the industry has changed in the sense that there are more people who are getting involved in the industry, who we call non-endemics. They’re just essentially people who just didn’t start their career in gaming or have been in gaming for a very long time.

I think the pandemic and quarantine made people realize that gaming is a social activity, that there are stereotypes that people had about gaming and gamers that it’s shown that it’s not the case.

I think during that period of time, I think more people just starting to see how gaming is social, how gaming is beneficial, and how much of a community is around gaming. It’s been growing ever since.

If there’s anything in gaming that you would change, I know that diversity inclusion is a big thing right now. Is that something you feel that still needs a lot more change in the industry?

I think it does. I think that there needs to be better tools and systems for harassment, toxicity, racism, and sexism. There are a lot of people who are anonymous on the internet and feel more emboldened to say whatever.

Unfortunately, our politics that have been happening within the last few years, it has emboldened a lot of hate. There need to be more systems in place to protect gamers, especially to protect young gamers.

The internet and gaming culture can reflect society. It starts with us fixing things in society as well, of course. But until then, there are better measures that they should put in place to protect people.

Are there any new and exciting projects that you’re working on or hoping to work on?

In terms of exciting projects, I myself, have been opening up my career a lot more. I do broadcasting outside of just gaming, or have some kind of intersection of gaming and just entertainment. I do work for the NFL. This league is called World Chase Tag, so I co-hosted the broadcast, and that’s coming out soon and it’s going to be on ESPN.

I’ve been expanding myself, still in gaming, but doing more. Because I’ve always wanted to be more. Then we have a big drop coming, a merch drop coming. There are a lot more partnerships that we’re going to be announcing.

All the work that I do is always going to have gaming, but incorporate some other elements of entertainment, sports, music, and all the other facets and areas that I’m passionate about.

If you could tell somebody that’s younger that’s looking to get into the industry. Is there any advice you would give them?

The advice that I would give to someone who wants to get into the industry is actually don’t start in the industry. Go work somewhere else. Gain certain skill sets, knowledge, and information that you can bring back to the industry to make it better.

We have a lot of people who are fans of different gaming organizations and communities, fans of different video games, and things like that.

But we need more people who are project managers who understand finance, who understand business, who understand other skill sets and can couple it with their knowledge of gaming to make the industry more viable, more sustainable and better.

I would say go get a job somewhere else, not in gaming or eSports, and then bring what you learn back into this space.

How can people follow you, and support you? What’s the best way for people to connect with you?

The best way for people to follow me is Erin A. Simon, @erinasimon on all platforms. You’ll find me.


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