Gaming can be a daunting place, and never has this been truer than within the world of esports. Countless players are looking to grab the top stop, and if you are not at your absolute best, a single mistake can cost you a victory. Steph Harvey (AKA, Miss. Harvey) have worked her way to the top.
Now representing HP Omen, she can be considered at the top of her game. This is why, on International Women’s Day, we took some time to chat with her about gaming, esports, getting into the stage and the toxicity that still remains within gaming.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Brendan Frye: With us doing this interview on International Women’s Day, let’s start out with what got you into gaming, and what advice you could give to woman looking and making the leap?
I literally have just always gamed my whole life. It wasn’t something that I thought I should be doing; I have always been in it. I’ve always been a gamer. My parents didn’t really raise me with the concept that a woman can only do certain things. I’ve always done everything that both genders do and if I were a woman looking at this sphere and wanting to jump in, I would say that just like in any other industry. If you want to do something competitive it will get hard. A lot of people want to win.
But if you just want to find a place where you belong in a community, It’s actually very amazing how welcoming gaming is.
Brendan Frye: There’s been a lot of talk about the gaming space being very toxic to women. Do you find that or is that just certain spheres that kind of bring that level that makes it hard to be in the space as a woman?
I don’t think it’s something that is the product of gaming. I do believe it’s something more about the Internet and the way we interact online and the way we approach diversity and difference. Unfortunately, a big aspect of gaming is online, but I really don’t think it’s because it’s gaming. I just believe it’s because of the way we were raised and how we were taught to, quote unquote, ‘interact online’. Unfortunately, we were never taught how to communicate online, whether it’s on forums or social media or in gaming, and I think that’s the bigger problem here.
And on the gaming side, we actually do so much initiatives that support differences and minorities, like Omen, for example. They picked me as their first female gaming ambassador in Canada, which is kind of awesome. So, in gaming, we do try to make a difference within our community, and t I’m going to say I can’t say the same for social media and the way we’re we interact with the internet. In gaming we know there’s a problem and we try to change and make a difference. But without addressing the bigger problem, which means connecting with the Internet without the help of the government, without the help of our schooling system or education system, without the help of better support to interact online, gaming will always be a victim of the way we communicate online.
Brendan Frye: I noticed you made a big announcement recently about your departure from CLG, could you tell us a bit about why the move?
I’ve with that team for years. It was an exciting last couple of years with them on and off on the team and I guess recently I was looking for a new challenge. I thought I accomplished pretty much everything I could within that team. I want to compete again I want to have more impact on a team than what I could do on the field so they understood that and we decided to part ways after a long relationship with them.
Brendan Frye: What is next for your career, and what are looking to achieve out of the gaming space?
There’s a couple of things that I’m looking for in my career. I’ll just say I still want to compete. I think that’s super important. But if I don’t have the chance to compete amongst a team which, might happen, who knows. I’m getting older, so I will eventually have to retire. But on the sideline, there’s something that is super important to me, which is making a difference over the last two or three years. Especially in Canada and especially in gaming I want to push forward the message that gaming is a fantastic environment and community and that I want to break barriers, meaning I want to destroy the misconceptions that we have with gaming in the mainstream media.
I also want to raise awareness with what you mentioned earlier with toxicity. What can we do to fix it instead of talking about the toxicity? Because I think like I said it’s a bigger problem than just gave me. I want to find solutions and I’ll work with a board to do that. Omen by HP and other places like that where they want to make a difference as well. It’s about how can we make a difference, whether it’s by empowering students or empowering teachers that can make a difference locally, providing role models for young women to want to be part of gaming, and understanding the issues that we can face the embracing it instead of fearing it.
I think it’s my biggest passion right now in my career. I don’t really care about being famous. I don’t care about making money. My goal is really to make a difference.
Brendan Frye: With gaming and esports being such a diverse collection for people that are looking to get into these sports or their games, how do you tell people to get into esports? And for people that are looking to get into a specific esport is their a game they should jump onto or should they just go where the passion draws them?
I really believe [they] should go with a game they have passion for. I’ve never actually met someone who’s an outsider and said I want to get into esports. Usually, people know the game they like, and they’re like ‘I want to do this within my game.’ If you read this interview and you think I want to get into my esports just because I love Fortnight, I love Overwatch or I love whatever game you’re in love with for mine it was Counter Strike.
There are so many opportunities for you to be involved, whether it’s playing as a competitor, working with the teams. working within the media industry as a journalist or a member of a production team. It’s exciting, and I think what you can do in esports you can do it in gaming, because gaming is such a new medium. It’s such a new initiative and opportunity. Gaming is only in its teenage years. We don’t even know what’s to come yet. Other industries are actually looking at us and starting to copy what we’re doing because it’s been a pretty awesome ride.
Brendan Frye: You mentioned the fact that it’s hard to look at esports as a long-haul career choice, why is that and is there a way to deal with this issue?
I think it’s just like sports. At some point, you made the sacrifices for so long some people want to move on. Some people want to just not invest as much time into the game. For me right now I’m okay with spending five to six hours a day practicing, but more than that I get really burned out now. At that point, I just don’t want to do it anymore. I want to spend time with my dog, I want to do other stuff. When my teammates are, like, 16, they can spend close to 12 hours a day on the game, and they don’t mind.
But it’s also a matter of where we’re at in our lives. I do feel like I still have a couple of years, maybe one or two at least. And to me, it’s a matter of knowing if I can find the right team, because I really don’t know. There are so many opportunities now.
Brendan Frye: I want to quickly touch on being a Canadian, specifically from Quebec, how do you find that when tackling esports and gaming in general?
I actually think we’re very fortunate as Canadians especially the last couple of years because we’re so close to the U.S. and we have such a big pool of talented players that it’s pretty much like there’s no border between the U.S. and Canada. You will find Canadians on almost every top teams in every top game. If it’s a little bit like you know the movies the actors, you don’t know their Canadian but they’re Canadians. I feel it’s the same for gaming there are so many Canadian gamers. And recently Quebec was being banned from most of the competition because of the way our lottery system works.
But in the last couple of years looks like it back changed the ruling. So now every province in Canada is able to compete, and we’re fighting for esports to be recognized as a sport. And it’s getting there. We have a lot of opportunities with sponsors that I mentioned a couple of times already. I’m the first one to be helped but I know I’m the first one I’ve made me come to so I think it’s an excellent time for Canadians.
It’s also really well seen in the community. I can’t speak for other provinces, but in Quebec, people know about competitive gaming people know about esports. People respect that. They’re excited for it. It’s not like a weird job where parents don’t want to push you anymore. It’s awesome to be a Canadian professional gamer at the moment.
Brendan Frye: With esports having such a diverse set of games people play now, what advice can you give someone where the game they play is slowing being phased out. How can they find a new focus and stay doing the thing they love?
Thankfully a lot of the skills you learn into a game, whether it’s because you’re a journalist or whether it’s because you’re a player, can be transferred to another game.
Sometimes even for the better. We see a lot of couples like average pros become top pros in other games just because they were there right when it started. We’ve seen so many broadcasters and advanced twitch games become the reference in other games because they have experience.
It opens so many essential pieces kind of jump in so many careers were made when a player jumped from one game to another. It became the reference in that new game and then eventually just became the biggest streamer the most significant player in that game. It’s like if you have already a game that you’re in and it kind of dies, thinking about it this way you have an advantage and an edge on every other player that’s going to start fresh in a new game because you already have experience in one game.
Brendan Frye: Right now it may be hard for woman looking to get into esports and are hesitant or worried the gaming space might be too tricky too daunting or just merely not welcoming. What advice can you give them and might want to follow you in your career footsteps?
You know I’ve had a competitive career my whole life. So for me, it’s straightforward like whether you’re a guy or girl and you’re trying to make it into a world. It’s going to be difficult and if it’s because you jump in something that is your passion is going to be less complicated. And if you have people that surround you they you that care about you that can support you then is going to be even less stressful. So it’s always a matter no matter the industry. It’s still a matter of if you’re passionate about what you’re doing and if you surround yourself with the right people the chances for it if you work hard.
I’m going to say these three things. The chances for you to succeed it is so much bigger than if you just you know go into the mentality that it’s gonna be too hard for you to stay in. I don’t think it’s too hard for people to say and I did it. I did it for 15 years. I think I’ve learned and grown so much from being in that sphere. So I want to say to these women just freaking do it. Follow your passion, follow your heart, and no matter what you do in life, it’s going to be difficult. So just go and do it and stuff that you really love and passionate about