Hard work is something that you can feel radiating from a specific person. Whether it’s in the way they speak, how excited they are and how much work they put into what it is they’re doing. You can generally see when a person cares about the product they’re making. Geo “Geo” Collins is one of those people. While she’s conducting an interview or hosting a broadcast you can always see a spark of contagious energy that makes you want to listen to what she’s saying. You know that she’s put in a lot of work to make a good product and that’s always an admirable quality to have. Today, I’ll take you through her journey from the Monkey Island way back in 2000 all the way to hosting Chinese Contenders Season 3 this year.
This is a question I like to ask people when I start these interviews. How did you first get into gaming and esports?
How I got into gaming is easy – I was probably about four. I think the first game I remember actually playing was one of the Monkey Island games back in about the year 2000. There were so many gaming things in my house that it’s entirely possible something else came before that. When I started primary school at five, my mum became a childminder and bought a PS2 and loads of PS1 and PS2 games for my brother, the other kids, and I to play on. It would pretty much be hours after school playing things like Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, etc. Let’s of course not forget the hours of my life blissfully spent on the Sims. As for how I got into esports, it’s a bit more embarrassing to say I was really late to that party. I’ve never been a MOBA player, never played anything like CS:GO either, so all the classic esports games just weren’t ones that I was a part of. In university, my group of friends was all big esports fans, but it was all Dota 2 and Hearthstone. While I wanted to be interested in it, I just couldn’t get into the games. I played Overwatch since release, but I was a console casual and toggled my thumbsticks naively for 1.5 years before I caught onto the Overwatch esports scene – when OWL started. It’s so cringy to admit that now. I was never in on the APEX stuff, pre-season, Contenders year one. I ditched my PS4 and built a PC because it was from then on I wanted to get into competitive gaming and got fully swallowed by the esports hole.
I love filming, I love editing, I love producing something that people like to consume and that is high quality. Something to be proud of! It’s something I understand well, and now I get to do it for esports, which is even better!
What gravitated you towards Overwatch specifically? Was it the gameplay, the characters, the art style?
As I started getting older and buying my own games and gaming systems, I gravitated very much towards FPS games. I started to realize that for me, I wasn’t really into story-driven single player games; it was always about how the mechanics felt. Did it feel good to move, and shoot? I was a massive Destiny fan and sunk hundreds of hours into it, but when I moved out in 2015 I found I couldn’t keep up with the new content as I could before with my new lifestyle, and Destiny was very hard to play if you weren’t ahead of the curve. It was about the same time that Overwatch got announced, and it looked like it would tick all my boxes: FPS? Yes. Not a single player story campaign? Yes. Online, multiplayer? Yes. I loved the art style too, everything about it just looked perfect. So I preordered it, and it was one of the only games I’ve ever preordered. I think I still have the selfie from the day I went to pick it up somewhere, haha!
I remember you saying that you’ve been doing Youtube since 2011. What first led you into wanting to start making content on YouTube and also staying consistent with it?
My best friend at school was massively into Youtube. 2009-2012 was that era where vlogging was on the rise, and people like Dan and Phil were causing a stir online and whisking up a (now-considered) small fanbase of a few tens of thousands of subscribers. I started watching them all in 2011 to see what the hype was about and got really into it. But I’ve always been someone who always wants to do these things myself too, so I bought a DSLR and learned to edit and started making videos myself. I made friends with these ‘famous’ British Youtubers and was really involved in that world in a similar way to how I am now with esports. Youtube was something I enjoyed – I loved being in front of a camera. I remember back to Youtube conventions in 2013 when people would ask me for photos and stuff, which is weird to think about now. I drifted out of that about four years ago. I kept making content though, just not for that mainstream vlogging/comedy audience. I love filming, I love editing, I love producing something that people like to consume and that is high quality. Something to be proud of! It’s something I understand well, and now I get to do it for esports, which is even better!
You’ve been doing some interviewing work for Caffeine Gaming at places like Redbull Arena and Insomnia this last year. When did you make the decision to branch out towards making that type of content on top of the videos you were already making?
So I actually got into doing work with Caffeine Gaming because I was recommended, interestingly. They do a lot of gaming news but also wanted to start a talk show and do video content as well as written stuff. It’s not so much that I planned that I wanted to do certain interviewing type things, but more that the opportunities presented themselves to me and I was like “Hell yeah.” I’ve really enjoyed doing interviewing and going to these cool events to film video content for them. I think I’m pretty good at thinking on the fly when it comes to this stuff, and it’s nice to get to go out to places rather than always be working from my bedroom. I think if I just relied on the content I make myself, then I would be limiting myself so much. Working on these professional productions and branching out not only helps me learn, lets me experience but also beefs up that resume.
You again added another tool to your toolkit with hosting now that you’ve done with BroadcastGG. You’re currently working on Chinese Contenders Season 3 and worked on Open Division season 3 as well. I saw a tweet of yours that was titled “Overwatch casting tilts me” so when was it that you decide to give hosting a try instead?
Haha! It’s true that originally I wanted to be a caster, and that’s actually still true. Casting was my original interest and still remains to be. But sadly I got some bad advice (something, something, women shouldn’t be color casters) and tried play-by-play instead…which I sucked at. But it’s not just that I sucked at it, I didn’t want to do it and I didn’t enjoy it. That “casting tilts me” video was me raging about it on stream. When I applied to host for Open Division, I’d never hosted anything in my life, but I knew I had the skillset to do so. So I applied as a host instead of a caster. It went well, and I went on to do Trials EU and now Contenders China. I love hosting and I’m glad I’m having the opportunity to do it and hone my skill, but my heart is still in casting and hopefully, after a bit of practice (I put it off to focus on hosting for a while) I’ll get the chance to do that as well.
Speaking of Chinese Contenders, how are you liking it so far? I remember when I first watched China play and it was sort of like a culture shock coming from EU and NA Overwatch. What are some of the things you like or find the most interesting about the region?
Oh boy, this is a question. I knew going into Contenders China that I was stepping into the territory of a pretty enthusiastic fanbase – including my colleagues. I had to get some help from Volamel before my first week to give me a history lesson on the region and teams. It really did surprise me how different it was to EU (EU is my love, my soul, and my life). Chinese Overwatch isn’t as calculated and methodical as we have in EU. With our tank-heavy play could be argued as the most methodical of all regions. Playing tanks rely more on teamwork and coordination, with less of a chance for any one member to carry. Can’t have a DPS pop off if there’s no DPS. China, on the other hand, isn’t the biggest tank region. The main tanks play like DPS’s and the off-tanks don’t stand out much. It’s a role that relies on high coordination, and when a lot of the team fights are less ‘team’ and more ‘fight’, the coordination needed just isn’t there. There is a lot of exciting DPS play, and I know that people get really into the region because of their fondness for unorthodox compositions, creativity, and reluctance to play by the Western rules of strategy. I can see the appeal. But for me personally, I feel like when I’m watching it, I could be watching something so much better. I could be watching something so much more strategized, planned out, executed perfectly. The skill of the players could be shown off so much more if they polished up their team play. When I watch EU I feel like I’m watching these players at their best. The skill of the teams is so close and so high-level. When I watch China I feel like there’s so much more that could be added to these teams, and it’s less about which team is the best, and more about which team isn’t the worst. TLDR: I see the appeal, but it hasn’t gripped my heart quite yet.
The EU scene between broadcast talent seems very close-knit. Everyone seems to know each other and are friendly. How was it that you ended up getting into the UK scene?
It seems that way to me too. I’m friends with all of the Contenders EU broadcast team. That sort of happened because I knew one of them, and then met the other, and then met the other. I think because the UK is a small place, everyone will go to the same events and all be in the same place at the same time. So I’ve met a lot of, if not all, the BroadcastGG British broadcast and production talent, I’ve even hosted a lot of them at my house. I think when you all share these interests, you sort of fall into a natural friendship. I honestly still feel like the new kid because I did my first ever broadcast in late August/early September. I’ve met all these people between now and then but even I feel naturalized into the group. It’s partly why I love being from the UK because relatively, it’s very practical and easy to see all these people and be a part of these cool things.
When are you going to cosplay Ashe?
I REALLY SHOULD, SHOULDN’T I? As soon as that announcement was made at BlizzCon, I was like… They stole my face. So many people compared her to me and have told me to cosplay her. Hmmm, I don’t know when but I know it’s something I need to do at some point. We’ll see!
You can follow Geo at @geometric on twitter and catch her live hosting for Chinese Contenders Season 3 on Saturdays and Sundays right here on Broadcast.gg.
This has been Kenobi, and I’ll see you all next time.