Join Sarah Tenisi, TenisiTech's CEO on Tech Me Seriously, a podcast that explores tech, business, and innovation.

How eSports is Changing The World

Sarah and Motocross champ -turned eSports entrepreneur Stefy Bau discuss the evolution and impact of the eSports industry in today’s world.

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Sarah Tenisi:  You’re listening to Tech Me Seriously with Sarah Tenisi, CEO of Tenisi Tech, candid conversations with professional women exploring their passion for what they do.

Sarah Tenisi:  Hi, this is Sarah Tenisi. I’m the CEO of Tenisi Tech, which is an IT services firm in the Bay Area. And I’m also the host of this podcast, Tech Me Seriously. Today, I’m really excited to talk with Stephie Bau. Stephie is a pioneer in motocross industry and has a lot of firsts under her belt. I’m only going to list a few of them, but the list is extremely impressive. So Stephie Bau is a seven time women’s Italian motocross pro champion. She was the only woman to hold a male professional motocross license from 2000 to 2007. She was the first woman to be featured in two video games, Supercross 2000 and Freak Style, and the first woman invited to compete against male pro motocross racers in Japan. And now, Stephie is at the forefront of the booming e-sports industry. Stephie, welcome to the show.

Stephie Bau:  Thank you, Sarah. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.

Sarah Tenisi:  Of course, of course. So one of the things I wanted to start with is tell me how you find yourself as a leader in the e-sports industry.

Stephie Bau:  How does that come about? It’s actually a very funny story for me. My background, as you just mentioned, is all about motor sport and motor cycling. And about two years ago now, I was back in Italy visiting my family. And I saw my knees spending like two, three, four hours a day on our iPad watching people playing video games. And I’m like, wait a second. What’s going on here? What is this thing? So I educated myself. I dove into the industry and learned as much as I could. And yes, and today I’m part of the e-sports community.

Sarah Tenisi:  That is super exciting. And I mean, isn’t that one of the things I think for us is that we actually watch people watching games. That’s kind of a new phenomenon.

Stephie Bau:  I mean, there is more than you learn about this community, more you see that that’s not uncommon. But it’s almost like in my opinion, there has been an underground movement for quite some time. And now I think it thanks also to COVID, it started to explode. And now a lot of people are learning about e-sports and learning about video games and how video games can interact with every kind of people.

Sarah Tenisi:  So I want to get into that. But before we go there, I think this is a question that’s on a lot of people’s minds. And I want to talk about just kind of the concept of are e-sports real sports. So I know that you answer this all the time. This is something that’s on your mind, right? You run an e-sports company. So tell us a little bit about your perspective on that.

Stephie Bau:  Okay. So e-sports and traditional sports, they live on the same level, in my opinion, for a few things. Like the difficult part is always to understand what sports means and what you classify as sports. Okay. So if you look at the physical side in e-sports, you’re not out there running around. So technically you’re not doing a sport like it can be soccer or like hockey or any other sport, right? But when the people are totally engaged into playing video games and play video games competitively, study shows that people actually feel the same reaction that you feel when you play a real traditional sport. It’s very intriguing. Like your heartbeat goes up, you know, your focus as much as playing a real sport, a traditional sport. So, you know, like the similarity is there. So in a way, you know, like the question if e-sports, a traditional sport can be compared to that, in my opinion, can, by tell everybody, go try it. So you feel it.

Sarah Tenisi:  I think that’s the big thing is for people that are questioning it, it’s go try it, right? Because the strategy is going to be the same. Your physiological response, like you said, your heart rate goes up, your stress levels go up, you might even sweat. So I can see how you can make those parallels between the two for sure. What’s that?

Stephie Bau:  Oh, go ahead. Yes. And another important thing is that now with these sport and competitive gaming, the people that are athletes, what we call gamer athlete, they really follow a strict regime of training. So you know, like you have coaches, you have dietitians, you have, you know, like everything you need to be able to perform at the maximum level. They follow like a sleep schedule, you know, just like an athlete. You know, traditional athletes do. So even that shows like that the comparison is there, you know, it’s very similar.

Sarah Tenisi:  So actually that’s a perfect segue. I was talking to my 16 year old about this and I said, what does it take to become like an e-sports athlete? And he, his first answer was, you got to get a coach. And so I found that really interesting. So, so they’re actual coaches. Are they, are the coaches from the traditional sports and then they move into e-sports or what does that look like?

Stephie Bau:  Well, let’s say the sport of video games, it’s a whole new aspect because sport video game into e-sports is fairly, fairly new, you know, like, but the coaches that are coaching the gamers that they play on legal legend and Fortnite, those people, they are pretty much people that has been successful and that they study the game and become coaching coaches, sorry, for those, those gamers in traditional sport, it’s a new opportunity. So I will see, you know, a very good crossover like maybe for coaches that they will not be able to stay on the bench anymore and run around the field with their athlete. Now this could be a great opportunity because they know the sport inside out and they can help those gamers, you know, be the best they can be without having to run around in the field.

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Sarah Tenisi:  So I imagine there’s steps that one could take to get into e-sports. So what does it take to get into e-sports? What do you actually need to get started?

Stephie Bau:  Well, it’s very interesting because there are many different ways that you can get involved with e-sports. As a player, you can do it through console playing like the Xbox and the PlayStation. And you know, they are not super cheap but compared to a lot of other sports that are expensive, you know, gaming is a much better entry level, you know, like then an expensive sport. That’s one way. Then there is a PC gaming which can be a little bit more expensive because those are tools created for the serious gamer and they PC that, you know, it can be quite pricey, you know, but like everything in life, as soon as you get better, you know, you’re going to want to have better equipment for you. But the other important part is that gaming and the gaming industry is exploring more and more, the mobile segment. And phones are in every person’s life. So now we are gaming on a mobile, you’re going to have a chance to really engage with those communities like in Africa and in India, you know, that they might know the possibility to buy a console or a PC but you have the phone. So it’s very interesting. So there is a lot of different ways to get involved but in reality, even a cell phone will do it.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and you said this word a little bit earlier. You said the word community. And I think that that’s a really interesting word when you start talking about any industry, any new, well, I think community is the right word, right? So when you talk about how people can participate, it’s really more than just plain. Well, I mean, again, I think community is the right word for people who are watching, of people who are playing, of people who are coaching, of people who are announcing and analyzing. I mean, it really is a new community.

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. And it goes even bigger than that. Like getting involved with gaming, you know, like you can get also into engineering and STEM. Like there is a study out there that shows that girls especially, who play video games are three times more likely to enter a career in STEM. So you know, for my point of view, like sports video gaming and motorcycles in particular, I mean having a possibility to get a girl that plays video games so that they will be educated and also healthy because it’s interesting in sport. Now we have a very powerful little girl that can change the word.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, I love that idea. And I think the really interesting thing and we talked about this a little bit earlier is the idea that e-sports actually from a mental perspective is very similar to traditional sports but is different from a physicality perspective. And I think it’s that physicality that ends up encouraging diversity and inclusivity across the board, right? Like now you have an opportunity for mixed gender teams where you really didn’t see that before. You don’t see that as you know, I mean competing against all the men for years and years, you know, you didn’t always see that. And so how are e-sports encouraging diversity and inclusivity? And I think the follow up question is, is this happening quickly enough?

Stephie Bau:  Well, in my opinion, it is happening because as you said, it is the possibility for everyone to just be behind a computer or a console and challenging themselves in a competition. And by doing it in a safe environment, like at your home or on the phone or whatever, those barriers that can be dismantled very quickly because you are now in the field and being judged by other people and whatnot, right? So it’s incredible, in my opinion, it’s very, very exciting what gaming is doing for diversity and inclusion. Like to just say an example, what we are doing with my company in ETSport, it’s we organize tournaments for motorcycling, okay? Motorcycling and motorcycles by itself, it’s expensive to buy, right? So that ‘s one thing plus, you know, it’s been a very white man dominated industry. Now through E-sports, we’re going to have the opportunity to open this to everybody. So again, somebody in Africa or in India or somebody with a disability, you know, they can just experience the sport digitally and have so much fun doing it. So gaming, it’s one of the most important tools that we have right now to really push on this. The backside of it is that unfortunately, because you are behind the screen, sometimes you get this bullying going on, right? But I think more and more people are developing ways and we are doing that as well as a company to make people accountable for who they are, because in that way, you will not really necessarily, you know, put yourself behind the screen and be anonymous. You need to show who you are. And therefore, you know, like we cannot take down a little bit of that barrier because we make you accountable, you know, on the gameplay.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, there’s a couple of things that I think would be fun to unpack here. So most of the online, it’s probably all of the online gaming communities really do have a code of conduct. And I know of people that have been booted off for bullying online. So I know that that exists. I was talking to my sister about this and she used to game online all the time. She’s quite a bit younger than I am. But one of the things she said is that she had to change her pseudonym. And this is pre video days, but it was online gaming and she had a female pseudonym. And she said it was incredible how much bullying and sexual harassment and craziness that happened because she used a female pseudonym. So that happened for some time. And she thought, you know, I’m just going to change it to a male pseudonym. So she did and that went away. And so that’s part of where the question comes from. Like, is it happening quickly enough? Is there more we need to do? Like are people thinking about this right now?

Stephie Bau:  No, I think because of the inclusion of a big corporation, they start to pay attention to the gaming world. It’s not anymore underground current. It’s now coming to surface. So therefore, you know, people need to be more aware of what’s happening. And therefore, I wanted to say that this kind of said episodes like the one from your sister, they’re going away faster, you know, and faster. Also, you know, companies are really working on that. We are one of them, you know, to try to really create what I said is accountability. So just starting out with a fresh, you know, playing field. And yeah, if you want to play, you know, it doesn’t matter who you are. And, you know, from whatever background you come from, everyone is welcome. And I think like everything in life, you know, if that is the message and that’s what, you know, like the corporation, they are getting now involved, push out, then, you know, like it’s going to become the norm.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and I also wonder too, if cameras on, right, doesn’t allow you to be as anonymous as you could before. And I was talking to my son about this and I said, you know, when you think about women in esports, what are you seeing? And he plays League of Legends. And he said, you know, I don’t see women on any of the teams. And I said, well, how do you know? Maybe they’re just using male pseudonyms. And he said, no, no, no, you see the players. Like you actually see the players on the teams. And that’s kind of where this idea of, is it going to happen quickly enough? And I think that just like everything, there’s baby steps that we’re taking. And I think the work that you’re doing in esports is really important from that perspective.

Stephie Bau:  I mean, we believe that I am from an industry that was very well male dominated. And I was able to sit around the table with everybody, you know? So I want to try to be inspirational for that and bring that way of living into esports as well.

Sarah Tenisi:  How do you think you were able to chip away at that? I mean, we talked about all these firsts and that was just a subset of your firsts. I want to be clear on that. But like, what do you think makes the difference when you’re focused on this type of inclusivity?

Stephie Bau:  For me, it’s always something like I tell everybody when I talk, you know, like of the fear that they might have, you know, about not being included into activity or whatnot. I’m like, just put yourself out of the box. So you know, society brings people up in a certain way. And they create a society that does create those kinds of boxes, right? Where are you supposed to be in? You’re supposed to look like that. You’re supposed to do this, you know, whatever. I’m just like, just stay outside of that box. Don’t even have a box. And therefore, you know, like you can be truly yourself. And if you lead the conversation like that, you know, like you focus yourself on leading a conversation on that term, you’d be surprised of the replies because when you put, you are the one that put yourself at the same level of everybody else, then the other party is going to look at you just like that. If you put yourself in that box first, then you’re giving permission to the other party to look at yourself in that box.

Sarah Tenisi:  Super powerful. I mean, I think the message that I’m hearing is don’t, A, don’t put yourself in the box. That’s probably the biggest piece of that. And B, don’t let other people put you in the box. I mean, that is such a simple message, but I think that it is so profound. It’s that whole idea of, of, you know, being who you are. Don’t let people tell you who you should be. And it kind of goes back to this idea of authenticity. And if we can stick to who we are and put ourselves out there with courage, then ideally, the diversity comes.

Stephie Bau:  Yeah, absolutely. And as women, we should have this duty to help other women to see and in that way. And I’m, I’m always, you know, happy to help everybody, you know, and be an ally, you know, and say, Hey, we can all do it together. But like, again, for me, I did a sport that was very hard. So I developed confidence in myself at a very young age. So therefore, you know, I’ve always been, of course, I belong there. Yeah. Yeah. But I do know that for other people, you know, male or female out there is not as simple. But go out and ask, ask others how they done it. Or ask others, Hey, can you give me advice? Again, you’d be surprised how many people are out there that they want to share and help. So don’t be shy. Go out.

Sarah Tenisi:  Remind me how old you were when you started.

Stephie Bau:  I started riding motorcycles at four years old.

Sarah Tenisi:  Okay. Four years old. I mean, incredible. Right. So you were always to you were.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. Yes. I have always been myself and as six years old, you know, like I was starting to learn how to read and write, right? And in my parents’ house, there were magazines for motocross. And in the magazine, they were, you know, the athletes in America. And six years old, I look at my mom and dad in the eyes and I say, one day, I will be racing in America and I’ll be the best female racer there is. And I ended up doing it.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and when you were that young, you probably didn’t qualify it with female, right? Because at that time, you probably weren’t even thinking that this was not something that girls did. Yeah.

Stephie Bau:  Well, for me, they’re young again. Everybody’s the same. And it’s what is really true, you know, like until you hit puberty, you know, the female or male child body, it’s very similar, you know, like then things start to change when you need puberty. And then again, it comes at the box situation. Yeah.

Sarah Tenisi:  That’s exactly when that starts.

Stephie Bau:  And whatnot, but again, you know, like I never put myself in that box, you know, like if I am an athlete, I put my helmet on behind the gate. I’m just like all the other riders there. So let’s just go out and battle.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and I think about it too, kind of coming back to esports. I mean, there’s the gender piece. There’s also this disability piece where all of a sudden, if you’re disabled and you can’t physically play the sport, well, you can play the sport.

Stephie Bau:  Exactly. And that’s powerful, in my opinion. Again, this event that we have, it’s called race me in one of the athletes is a Paralympian gold medalist. And the event is a simulator car racing. So we got the company that helped us to change the steering wheel so she can play with the end controls. And they were so powerful, you know.

Sarah Tenisi:  Yeah, sorry. I got so excited. But I mean, it really opens up everyone else’s worlds to these things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. And for me, you know, esports are a way to become a new vehicle to get people into sports. Also the other way around. But initially to me it is like showing them that they can be a champion digitally. And therefore, you know, when they do that, you know, there is going to be a possibility then, you know, hey, you win the race. Guess what? You want a credential to be able to go and watch the sport or you want a possibility to have an hour to spend, you know, on zoom with your family athletes. I love that. On the other side, athletes want that too, you know, especially in these times where, you know, like sports are happening, but they are not happening in a way that the public can go and see them necessarily. So now, esports and gaming, you know, like give the opportunity to have that connection with an athlete directly because they are playing the games, you know. So like now you can have a chance to talk to your idol, which is something that will never happen before, you know, even if you go and watch a match, you know, or a game because unless you have a VIP, you know, opportunity, you can’t, right? So it brings down all of these barriers and make everybody feel more authentic, you know, and going for the same goal.

Sarah Tenisi:  I love the idea that there’s this crossover that you’re bridging the gap between esports and real sports. Tell me how that’s happening.

Stephie Bau:  Well, for me, I saw it because of the motorcycle industry, okay, to me, it made no sense not to get involved because of what we learned through the COVID times, right? So again, it goes back to the fact that fan could not go in and join the game, the motorcycle racing. So therefore, you know, like what can we do to keep the fan entertained? And esports provides that. So be able to connect the two words. It’s what to me was an important step to really get more people to be passionate about sport. And like I said, also the other way around because you can look at it in this way. I am a professional athlete by trade, but I’m not an athlete anymore, right? So now I will get a possibility to play a sport that I used to do digitally without having to break in my bones. Right.

Sarah Tenisi:  I mean, that’s a big thing too. You know, I’ve thought about this because I remember back in the day when sports came out and everybody was bowling in tennis and it was super fun. And yeah, you would figure out how to flick your wrist so you can still sit on the couch. Like you’d get really into that game. And I remember I took it, we started playing and I took my kids to the bowling alley and they were so frustrated because it was so different. Right. So I think there’s a little bit of that whole expectation setting. Now that said, they were very young. So they weren’t looking at the strategy of the game. But I think you bring up something really important there. And that is, you know, the risk on an e-sport is a little bit different than the risk on a real sport. And so the consequences, you know, are different.

Stephie Bau:  Yeah. But at the same time, you know, like it would be the first taste to see if it is something that you want to do. Like risk, it’s everywhere in life, right? So you should never leave the scare of the risk that something can happen to you. Right. It’s true. Like even I would like to see people that started digitally and get so passionate about the sport, then eventually that they can turn into riders. Yeah. And that doesn’t really mean that they’re going to be a traditional sport champion, but maybe even for a lager, you know, like so it’s a crossover, you know, it makes any in that way. And as I was saying, also it can happen the other way around, meaning like a former champion, it can still fill the butterfly in the stomach, you know, like how by very digitally, you’re

Sarah Tenisi:  Like, I got it, I got it. I’m going to get this. I’m going to make this turn really tight. Yeah.

Stephie Bau:  I love it. Also, also circle back on the fact if it is for is considered a real sport or not. Again, you know, like if you really get into it, the strategy, the mental focus that you have to have, you know, it’s not really that much different than, you know, when you are behind a gate or like starting a soccer match.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and part of what I thought about too, when I was thinking about these questions is, does it matter how we define it? Like going back to your box analogy, it doesn’t matter if we put it in the sports box. Does it matter if we put it in the entertainment box? What difference does it make when you have something that’s building a community?

Stephie Bau:  Exactly. And if you’re doing something that is good for the community, for society as a whole, it opens up all of different ways to get people into, like I said, STEM possibly or even jobs, you know, it’s a community that can create so many new jobs now, you know, like so, I mean, you can call a sport, you don’t want to call a sport. Like you said, it doesn’t matter. Like the sticker is now important, you know, for the definition. It’s more like the community and what you can do to get involved and what you can get out of it.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and I’ve said this before, one of the things that I really appreciate about sports is how they bring people together, right? Like your team wins a championship and there’s a parade and everyone from everywhere goes to the parade and you’re just the whole city is there, you know, and there’s something so powerful about getting in behind a team and I think that that is also very congruous to what can happen in esports, you know, you can get behind your team.

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. And that is like any very important part of the sport and which is also mimicking the traditional sport effects, you know, like being a fan because as you saying, you know, like now there are people like my niece that she was spending so many hours watching people playing games and she has her favorite gamers now that she follows, you know, like and then with the esports competition now going into stadium, now you’re going to see all of these people, you know, going to purchase a ticket to watch their favorite game, you know, play the game. And on this accent, there is something actually even more intriguing for me, which is the fact that the majority of the people that go watch video games, they go watch it because they want to learn and then apply it for themselves. And this sport gives that direct connection, meaning that you can go home and whatever you saw, your favorite athlete applying, you know, like you can go back and do it yourself. And that’s a bigger level of engagement between your idols and yourself, which and now it doesn’t happen with sport because if you go and watch a Formula One race, it’s not that you go home and you can jump in a Formula One car and do it, you know, right?

Sarah Tenisi:  You can’t see physically what they’re doing inside that car to make it do what it needs to do, right?

Stephie Bau:  Yeah, exactly. You know, like, but with esports now you can learn from it and you can have the direct connection through, you know, like the gaming industry and Twitch, Twitch is an amazing platform, you know, like it is the gaming platform where everybody’s on. So you know, you can learn from there, connect from there, you know, and I mean, we talked

Sarah Tenisi:  about this a little bit before and I think this is very intriguing too, as there’s been a couple of different evolutions that we’ve gone through. I think as technology has evolved. So I mean, what, how do you think that evolution has gone from like social media to now, you know, a platform like Twitch? Talk about your thoughts on that evolution.

Stephie Bau:  Yeah, so well, I think that every time, you know, like you spend some time on platforms, you learn them and then you see what they can give back to you. And we have learned, you know, like Facebook was an amazing platform and it’s been an amazing platform for connected people around the world. And you know, like because everybody is more into instagrattification, then Instagram became much more popular with the younger demographic. So you know, you’re starting seeing that kind of evolution, then, you know, like you have YouTube, which is a platform to watch, you know, videos, right? And now Twitch, Twitch, in my opinion, is bringing together a little bit of everything, meaning like you’re gonna get the people that can watch there and then you’re gonna get people that they feel engage and they can get back right away that instagrattification, which is not only by watching, but it’s also by doing. And I think this is the next step that society is facing, you know, in our evolution.

Sarah Tenisi:  And the evolution of social media. And I think what that strand is throughout those examples is engagement, right? And I think, and I mean, we touched on this a little bit, but I think COVID has probably impacted that, right? We crave engagement today in a way that’s very different than we did 12 months ago. Yes, I agree. And so Twitch is really giving people the platform for that engagement. More real time is like what we’re seeing, right?

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. And again, you can have this conversation with people, you know, like you can do things, you know, like in the gaming, but also, you know, Twitch now is evolving as well, you know, like it started out as gaming only. But now you can find TV shows or cooking shows, sorry, cooking shows, because in that way, you can see somebody, but you can actually interact with them directly. So if you’re doing it while they’re doing it, you can technically ask the chef, hey, you know, like it’s coming out wrong on my side. What I’m doing wrong. And they can talk to you directly. And that’s like the next step, you know, like to be able to engage directly with somebody in a level that we have no experience with before.

Sarah Tenisi:  So really the technology evolution has allowed us to get to this point in terms of, I think, being primed for e-sports. And I want to go back to that. But I think the other side of the coin is the evolution of society. So like where are we? And I don’t think it’s just a COVID thing, but it’s, you know, where has society gone from maybe looking at kids watching video games and thinking, well, that’s kind of stupid to like, oh my gosh, this is actually a thing. And how do we support that? You know, or, or I think, sorry, and this might even be just the evolution of my own mind. But maybe it’s like, wait a minute, this is a real thing. And this is a passion for people. How do we begin to support that? Because as you said, this will be the entry point into a career in a lot of cases.

Stephie Bau:  Yeah. Like you said, you know, gaming and it’s always been considered like a waste of time, you know, like you’re just spending hours sitting there. But in reality, especially my opinion, everything is evolving, right? So maybe back in the day, because the game was not a possibility or career. Yeah, some parents were looking at that as a waste of time and say, hey, just go outside and have fun. Right. But because that was the box. Right. That was the box. Here’s the box again. Yeah. So, you know, like now, you know, when you can see major corporations getting involved and all of these opportunities, schools getting involved, you know, now you can have a scholarship if you are a good player. So you know, like now all of a sudden parents as well are starting to see, hey, maybe this is not really a waste of time. This could be, you know, if you work hard and you do your due diligence and you train hard, you know, it could be a career. And not only for a gamer per se, but it can, like I said, you know, go out and, you know, turn yourself into, you know, an engineer or into a coach or an analyst or a commentator and so on and so forth. So when society does understand that this is a possibility to get a community, but also an industry around so the possibility to have jobs and therefore income and support yourself, then all of a sudden it’s not going to be a waste of time anymore.

Sarah Tenisi:  Right. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a perfect way to describe this evolution. And I think the other thing too that we’re seeing is it is being adopted by the traditional sports franchises, right? Like the NBA, I think, is one of the ones that is having like, I don’t even know what you would call it, but they’re almost mirroring all of the teams, right? Like online. So you might have a Warriors team that plays a traditional sport, but then you also have a Warriors team that plays online. And I mean, this is legitimate, they’re drafting people.

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. And it’s very exciting. Like for us it is for our goal is to get the gamers that are playing our championship to be at the end of the year on the stage alongside the champion of the traditional sport. So that is also a dream come true for kids. They might have a disability going back to the inclusion and diversity that they would not be able to do in real life. And now they can be put on the same level of a traditional athlete. And to me, that’s powerful. And it’s not like diminishing the traditional athlete effort. I don’t see a light that to me is more like a given opportunity to somebody to do something that they will have only dreamed about otherwise.

Sarah Tenisi:  And I think that’s so I mean, I want to like, I want to give a shout out to Chiquita Evans because she was the first female drafted to the Warriors squad and will be a 2k. And I think I’m probably not talking about it perfectly because I’m not an expert, but that was just some of the, you know, research I was doing just to get a little more background. That’s really exciting. So there’s another example of that gender barrier going away. And as you said, there’s this whole industry now where people can thrive and why wouldn’t we want to create a new industry? Exactly. And it’s a no brainer, right? I mean, it’s pretty exciting. There’s a lot of ways that we see this industry coming into focus. And we’ve touched on a few of them. I mean, stadiums being filled up is a big one. Big ball franchises or different teams are starting to have sister virtual leagues. What about what about announcers? That’s I think an interesting one.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. I mean, even announcer, it’s a very good opportunity like in our industry, in the motorsport gaming and motorsport as a traditional sport. And now you see announcer that they are moving into the e-sports because the game is just like the same that they would be watching on TV and announcing it, you know, while when you know, they are looking at the traditional race. So is that crossover, you know, and it’s very intriguing. And I do see people to try to get a career from e-sports announcing and then maybe move to the real traditional e-sports and even the other way around. So everything is so, you know, linked together. That is so exciting.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and some of the announcements like in motocross, like we were talking about before, is that it’s actually very similar. Yes. Where you’re talking about speed, you’re talking about angles. And I imagine the big difference is you could then go ask the player, how did you achieve, you know, going into that turn at that angle, you know, with your controller? Because that’s the crazy thing. I mean, we’re talking about milliseconds of movement.

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. Yes. But to me, in the end, the beautiful thing is that we are creating now with e-sports, pretty much double the sport. So now everything that the sport has done in a traditional way. Now we have a chance to do it the same way, you know, like about digitally. So all of a sudden you have double the opportunity of the sport. I love that.

Sarah Tenisi:  Makes sense when I’m saying. Yeah, I love that. And I mean, I think what’s interesting is in my business, we often think about how we make non-traditional remote jobs remote? How do you help people achieve the same result remotely? And you know, that was kind of the IT thing that, you know, let’s get everybody in the cloud. And before COVID, I think that was a scary thing, right? After COVID, it’s like, oh, wait a minute. Not only is it not scary, but it will enable us and it will give us something that we couldn’t otherwise achieve. And I think that that’s again, part of that society’s evolution is that this is where we should go because there’s opportunity here for people that wouldn’t otherwise have it. And I think that that’s so powerful.

Stephie Bau:  You know, like a COVID has been a bad thing for a lot of people, but I am a positive person. They always try to look at the positive side and in reality in business. I think we have an opportunity to change the way that we do things. And again, it’s like you can stay strict in your ways because that’s what they have always worked for. All of a sudden now history is teaching us that, well, what if something totally unpredictable happens? Who is going to survive? We’re going to survive the one that they will be able to adapt to. So I like to start looking at evolving their business in a different way. So, you know, there are so many opportunities out there and it’s not easy, but if you can kind of look a little bit further, you know, you will find a solution for your own industry.

Sarah Tenisi:  Well, and I even think about what’s happening in my own household, right? We’re watching tennis games that happened a year ago or two years ago because we’re craving sport, right? So it’s another way to get us more engaged with real time. And I mean, I watch, you know, basketball and football games and I laugh because of the crowd tracks. But you kind of need that to get, you know, engaged at home. And so I think that’s part of it, right? Is how do we bridge that gap? How do we, and again, for me, sports or community? And so that part felt like it was missing, right? There were months that there was nothing on until they did that MMA fight and, you know, UAE. And I mean, I was watching MMA and I don’t watch that usually, you know, but it was still something that like something’s going on in the world.

Stephie Bau:  Right. But like, I guess we’re going to move a little bit more toward a digital experience also on the aspect too, because it’s reality who’s going to feel comfortable to go in the crowd, you know, next to everybody, even when the vaccine is going to be successful, it’s going to be a while. It’s going to take time. So we’re going to see an evolution. And in my opinion, they’re going to be those digital crowds, you know, and there are company out there and we work with them that they are really trying to come up with those solutions, meaning like instead of like they’re having people physically there, there is going to be the possibility to watch the show from home, but kind of like be putting on the big screen in the event. So the athlete feels the energy of the crowd, even though it’s not physically, it’s still like a group of people that can cheer for the athletes, you know, in a way that is digital engagement.

Sarah Tenisi:  It feels so sci-fi. Like as we talk about it, and I start picturing it in my head. So do you think that COVID, and again, we’re looking at the silver lining because I fully recognize how difficult it’s been for many, many, many people. But it feels like COVID has really impacted the evolution and adoption of esports in a way that has probably sped it up immensely. Absolutely.

Stephie Bau:  And specifically in a sports tournament that they reflect the traditional sports because, you know, like a photo, the legal legend in the fortnight, they were so far ahead already to do all of these physical events. Therefore, for those particular games, it was actually a step backwards because they were acting just like a traditional sport, meaning like they were feeling the stadiums, they were getting people there. So that was the business model, right? So for them, it was not that good, the COVID situation. But again, from the video game that they are mimicking the traditional sport, it opened up a whole different way to try to engage people, you know, like in a way of athletes, but also fan in something digitally that resembles the traditional sport. Again, more sports did it perfectly, like with a Formula One games. I mean, like the Formula One drivers were participating in it, you know? So they were racing with the common, you know, person that is at home. And how are they, what would have happened before? It would never have happened.

Sarah Tenisi:  That was one of my very first racing games, was Formula One on PlayStation. Uh huh. So fun. And so you’re saying that you have actual Formula One drivers playing alongside, you know, hobbyists or I mean, you still have to be pretty good to get there, right? How is that working?

Stephie Bau:  It was fantastic. Like the Formula One driver got the experience to feel the energy of the fans. Because now all of a sudden, again, using the Twitch platform, you know, like the Formula One driver was practicing, you know, so on Twitch, you could put out the practice and have the chat open and then talk with all of these people, you know, like on the chat, hey, you know, like, what am I doing? I’m doing the right. And people cheering, you know, and all of that. That’s so funny. And it became so big, right? And then doing the competition, you get the chance for the first time in history to have somebody that’s at home and a hobby player, you know, like to race alongside Louis Emmett don’t let’s say, you know, like, yeah. So it was like something in real life, it will never happen.

Sarah Tenisi:  So were the real players getting coached by the video game players? They’re like, how do I get this to go faster or were they naturally good at it? I’m curious. All right.

Stephie Bau:  So I want to touch two things on this. One is that as a motor sport as far as car racing goes, the simulator to be able to play are so good right now that the real driver themselves, most often they use the simulator to train. Oh, really? Yes. So, you know, like, because it’s also a cost saving for the teams, you know, going out and if you make a mistake, you know, break the car, that’s millions of dollars, right? You can do it in the simulator and get very close to what real life is. So much so that they’re being gamers. They started out as gamers that they invested in getting those very, very high end simulators that they are bringing lap times, you know, like the time in the track that the track is the same as the real track, whether you were racing, they is very close to the best driver. So now you see the real teams pulling the gamers and say, hey, we’re going to put you in the real car now because you are that good. Again, it’s a dream come true.

Sarah Tenisi:  Does that translate when they get your real car? Does it work? It works.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. So for motorsport as a whole, it’s super cool because there are those two out there that really make you feel that you are in the real car. So that’s, that’s, you know, incredibly good. So now you have gamers that can be as good as the real drivers. So there is not really that much coaching going on. However, with the event that I put together, there is going to air on Twitch on January 9. We put a twist in that. So what we did, we took six professional female athletes from six different sport and we make them play a NASCAR video game. So in that case, we got real NASCAR driver and a digital NASCAR driver to be the coach for those girls. So they were coaching them to how to, you know, ride the car as fast as possible.

Sarah Tenisi:  Who is coaching the video game players were coaching the real.

Stephie Bau:  Yeah, the video game player and the real NASCAR driver were coaching those six athletes. Oh, wow. The six athletes, they are Hope Solo from soccer. Then we have aerial power from the WNBA, Oxana master, Paralympian, Leaf Morgan from the WWE medicine packer from hockey and then medicine, Hemmen for soccer. So the sport and nothing to do with motor sport as a whole. And it’s amazing because you will see, you know, like the competitiveness of this women that they are the top there is into their game shine, you know, into a totally different sport. But of course, they needed to have a little bit of coach, you know, from their real athletes and also the digital professional because in that way, they can kind of get the gist of the sport a little bit quicker, right? Oh my gosh, that’s so fun. Well, it’s so cool. It was a very great experience to see them interact and so tell me a little bit more about

Sarah Tenisi:  race me.

Stephie Bau:  So it’s happening in January 9th, September and January 9th on Twitch on our Init Isport Twitch channel. Okay. So you just go on Twitch and look for Init Isports altogether, you know, and then you come to our page and the event will be here starting in 11.

Sarah Tenisi:  At 11 Pacific time.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. So you will see we have treated this as a real event, you know, so we have commentators, you know, they’re introducing the event and then they will be commentating the race. But you’ll see the magic will happen because of a professional athlete putting in the hot seat to do a different sport, which is car racing. I love it. Coach by racers and it’s just very powerful and all of this for charity, by the way.

Sarah Tenisi:  Oh, very cool.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. So all of this is for gender equality, diversity, inclusion. So we attach this charity. They school girl up and everything that we are making through, you know, the event goes 100% to girl up and girl up is a charity is a subchapter of the UN, which they help. They help young teenage girls mostly to learn leadership skills and then fight gender equality and bring light to gender equality, diversity, inclusion.

Sarah Tenisi:  So I love that I knew about girl up, but I didn’t know it was part of the UN. Yes. That’s very cool. So tell me, okay, so that event sounds really, really awesome. Tell me what some of the big wins are for in an esports event. I know there’s been a few.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. So like one of the big wins is for sure the fact that we were able to make this agreement with the AMA, which is the American Motorcyclist Association, to become the official promoter for any video game tournament on two wheels. And for us, that was a very big important step because now we are creating a model where the governing body of the sport can fall onto it to be able to generate more people that will become a consumer of the sport. I love it. So you know, like they saw it, you know, we went to them with a big vision and they loved it. And now we are partners and in 2021, we’re going to start the tournament. So just watch in-ity sports space and you’ll learn how to get involved with that. And so that was very cool, you know, and I think it will be a model that a lot of sports will follow in the future. Like with the promoter of the video game, it is really a standalone entity that can work with the governing body of the sport.

Sarah Tenisi:  So cool. So do you think when it comes to motorsports, do you think that we’re going to see something similar to what we’re seeing in the NBA, where we’re going to start seeing virtual teams that are kind of the sister teams of the real traditional sport teams?

Stephie Bau:  Absolutely. And it’s going to open up other opportunities for even different companies to get involved because in a way, it’s like in a general sense of sport, it’s harder to get sponsorship dollars. And to be able to run a real traditional sports event, you need a lot of dollars, right? E-Sport is a fraction of that. So for a company, they might be interested in getting involved with sport. Now, E-Sport could be the first, you know, taste into that sport as a whole. And then you can create, you know, the ladder to say, okay, let’s see how it works into the E-Sport with a more limited budget. And then if they continue, then the sponsor can eventually move into the traditional sport, you know, but providing this, you know, way to grow.

Sarah Tenisi:  I mean, it’s so exciting what you’ve been able to do, not just within it, E-sports, but really over your career. And I know that inclusion and diversity are two really core themes in what you do. And so I want to wrap up by asking you, when you’re talking to young women, how do you encourage them to follow their passion the way that you did?

Stephie Bau:  Well, first of all, I would say to everybody, don’t pull yourself in that box.

Sarah Tenisi:  Don’t put yourself in the box. I love that. I really want that to sink in.

Stephie Bau:  Yes. And then always go for what you love. And there are no shortcuts in life, so you have to work hard, you know, like, but if you have a passion and there is something that really makes you think inside, just go for it. Just work hard, go for it. And don’t listen to what people are going to say to you because there are always going to be people that are going to say that you’re not good enough. Don’t listen to them. Just continue to work. Don’t put yourself in that box. Put yourself always at the same level to the best people that are out there in your industry. And start the conversation. Ask advice because people are out there and they want to give advice.

Sarah Tenisi:  Words of wisdom from Stephie Bowe. I cannot thank you enough for joining me today on Tech Me Seriously. Thank you.

Stephie Bau:  Thank you so much, Asara. It’s been a pleasure. And yes, watch Race Me, generally 9 on Twitch.

Sarah Tenisi:  I love it. Race Me, January 9 on Twitch.

Marcus Edwards:  Thanks for listening to Tech Me Seriously with Sarah Tenisi. You can connect with Sarah on LinkedIn at Sarah Tenisi or you can send her an email at sarah@tenisitech.com. I’m Marcus Edwards. I’ve produced this episode. So until next time, cheers for now.