First off, let's establish this for the record: yes, there are people out there who play World of Warcraft professionally. There are pro teams, well known player personalities and an entire tournament scene. And behind it all, there are podcasters – "e-casters" – reporting on every twist and turn.
Meet JP McDaniel, a 22-year-old college journalism major and podcaster for ArenaCast. JP has combined the game he loves with school and work in what he hopes will be a springboard to a print journalism career in gaming. He's managed to roll his main up to 80 in the midst of podcasting, news updates, tournament travel and his studies. We talked with JP about his road into e-casting and his perspectives on where e-sports -- and competitive WoW, in particular -- are heading.
Main character Moogol
WoW player since Release
Guild focus Everything
Other gaming interests I play every major release for every console, but WoW is the only MMO I play currently. I do, however, try to play the other games, but I find they aren't as polished as WoW and end up eventually quitting.
15 Minutes of Fame: You're a podcaster and freelance e-sports writer. Sounds pretty glamorous -- what does that mean you end up doing in terms of day-to-day and week-to-week work?
JP McDaniel: My week-to-week activity is usually different each week, except for a couple things. On Wednesday afternoon, we usually record ArenaCast, our WoW podcast (now live Wednesdays at 6 p.m. CST). On Sunday afternoon, I write my weekly report for CEVO.com. Other then that, each day is random on what exactly I will be writing as news comes up throughout the week at different times. I stay very busy, though – that's one constant, I suppose.
Walk us through a typical production of ArenaCast.
My role on ArenaCast is producing, hosting and then editing and promoting each week. At first, it was a little much, but I have learned how to deal with it and usually can get the show posted and promoted with an hour after recording. A usual recording is somewhat staged, somewhat free form. I don't like to do too much planning beforehand, but a couple bullet points are always helpful in guiding discussion.
How did you get started in e-sports podcasting?
It's kind of a funny story. I had been wanting to do a podcast for a little over two years now. I listen to several other podcasts such as 1UPYours, Giant Bombcast and of course GFWRadio. But there has never been a podcast in e-sports, and I always talked about doing one. My friend and co-host of ArenaCast, Sam Lingle, got tired of my talking about it and said either do it or never mention it again. A week later, we were recording the 'cast. I have plans on branching out to do other casts for ESFIWorld.com in the future, as well.
Plenty of players out there would love to get involved in the work and projects you do. What sort of skills and background do you need in order to be a successful e-sports journalist and podcaster?
It's kind of funny. Most of everything I have learned was on the fly and from someone else. About three to six months after learning things on the job, I would learn some of the same things in school (my major is journalism). Also, as with anything else in this world, consistency and hard work are the two best things to propel you forward in any industry. I guess I also owe a lot to my friends in the industry. Contacts are everything in the gaming world, and I was lucky enough to have some.
What's your PvP background, and how does that play into the work you do?
I played Dark Age of Camelot heavily, and that was my first brush with the PvP world. I was in one of the top 8v8 groups on my server (LOL a roleplaying server – don't ask, I don't RP at all). From here, I moved to Archimonde when WoW was launched and was lucky to play alongside people from Nurfed, etc. When Arena was released in TBC, I played a lot in Season One, running 2345 composition. I quit however during the entire second season, but came back in Season 3 and got to top 10 in 5s and 2200ish in 2s.
I think in the line of work I do, having knowledge of the game is one of the most important things. It is kind of like the sports analysts now -- most of them are ex-pros. Albeit I am no pro, I still know most aspects of the game.
How do you manage to combine travel with school?
Very carefully. I am kind of lucky I suppose that most of the events I travel to all take place Friday through Sunday. Most of my teachers in college also do not mind me missing class for work, especially because it is journalism-related. I have had some very stressful weeks, though, where I have to travel and come back on two to three hours of sleep to take a mid-term.
Tell us about how gaming and podcasting balances with the rest of your life right now. Are you a student first, gaming writer and podcaster second -- or do you consider yourself far enough into a gaming career that school has to work around gaming to some extent?
I try to balance it out, really. I think I put first what needs to be done the soonest. If I have a paper due for class on say, Tuesday, and an article that needs to be up Tuesday night, I'll do the paper first for school, then work. Its all time management, I guess. One day it could be school and the next, work.