Equipped with years of esports experience and knowledge, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professional Stephanie “missharvey” Harvey is the director of esports franchise development and outreach at Counter Logic Gaming.
In an interview with Esportz Network, missharvey recalled her constant competitive nature and involvement with video games. When she was growing up, she enjoyed the Mario and Pokemon franchises. “But one of the weirdest games I was really into was called the Wave Race,” she said.
In addition to having been a game designer at Ubisoft Montreal, missharvey won multiple world championships for CS:GO. More recently, she competed with her fans at Canada’s Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo.
She took some time off her busy schedule to share her esports journey with Esportz Network.
Esportz Network: This year, you attended EGLX and played CS:GO with your fans and supporters. What was that experience like for you?
Stephanie “missharvey” Harvey: It’s always really fun to play in front of fans, but there is still a little bit of a challenge every time I do these events because I do need to practice before to play my best. At EGLX, we switched the map that people usually play me on, so it was a new challenge for me to be able to beat them. And I’m not going to lie —I almost lost a couple of times, but I ended up winning. I won 32-0 for the matches, but I think it created a great spectacle because everyone was cheering for both people —like whoever was there, and the crowd was really into it. So the goal was really not for me to destroy them. The goal was for them to have a good time and get the experience of a small competition.
EN: On that note, at EGLX, what does being able to compete in the eyes of an audience comprised of your fans and attendees who met you for the first time mean to you?
SH: I think it’s really important for me to be in Canada and go across the country and meet the fans. I think something that’s so unique with gaming and streaming and competitors is that we’re super approachable compared to any other celebrity. I want to say we’re used to having direct contact with fans, we’re used to talking to them on Twitch.
At EGLX, there was a little boy and he couldn’t believe that I was there. He kept saying, “Is that really her? I watch you all the time.” His name was Brandon. He was so adorable that we gave him a couple of prizes just because he was so happy to be there. Who knows how this moment impacts Brandon in the future. It’s all about inspiring the fans and people one by one. You gain your following one by one, but you also change things one by one. By going across Canada and trying to show how wonderful our communities are within the gaming community [and also] in the mainstream media, it’s super important to me.
EN: When it comes to the rise of esports in Canada, the current state of the industry is different compared to the United States and Korea, for example. Given this context, why is it important to you to be a part of spearheading more diversity with your skills and talents as a Canadian woman esports player?
SH: I think it’s super important because the stats show that we’re the country that plays the most video games per capita. So 62 percent of Canadians consider themselves gamers. That’s an incredibly high number. That’s actually even bigger in Korea. So to see that those stats are so big, but to know that esports’ rise in Canada has been pretty slow, I would say, is surprising. And that means I think that most Canadians think it’s out of reach, that it’s not possible for them, or that there’s nothing locally for them to progress towards being pro gamers. But if they knew how many pros there are in Canada, I think it would make a huge difference.
And I think Canada is such a diverse country that it’s important to also showcase that success among other minorities because we have a variety of people. We have some of the best female competitors in the world in multiple games, and it’s still very unknown. We’re really strong in the development industry, but we’re really lacking in supporting our players and showcasing them, I think. There are initiatives like OMEN that want to, I want to say, legitimize gaming, but also showcase it across the country.
EN: On that note, what does being a part of the Canadian esports community mean to you?
SH: I’m from Quebec and I lived in L.A. for a little bit doing esports full-time, and actually came back to Canada to be close to my family, to be close to my community, to be close to pretty much everyone I cared about. So although it was amazing to be in L.A., I prefer doing the trip when I need it and seeing Canada because this is where I’m from, this is where I belong, this is where I want to make a difference.
EN: What is an esports anecdote that you would like to share with our readers?
SH: Every time I meet a fan, every interaction is different and meaningful. I meet a lot of people, but whenever they tell me a personal story about why they know me or why they’re following me, I usually remember them. When it is a woman [who] comes to me and tells me, “You inspire me and I watch you and my dreams do what you do,” I think it’s very powerful because in this world where we pitch women against each other all the time, it’s very hard not to compete against each other. When a woman talks to me and tells me I inspire them or that they watch my content, it means so much to me because I feel like what I do actually has an impact.
EN: Compared to the past, esports is being increasingly regarded as an industry with legitimate career paths. For example, people can get involved by Twitch broadcasting, video production, and public relations. What does it mean to you when you see your peers and players in the Canadian esports community get involved in what they are passionate about?
SH: There are so many people that I’ve met that came to me either for being friends or for being interested in joining. And now they work in the industry side-by-side with me. It means so much. It is so interesting to see the fast growth of their success. Three years ago, there were five, and now that they’re actors in two east-west franchises. So it’s such a fortune to join esports because everyone is trying to get involved and there’s honestly not enough talented people to make the jobs that are required. There are a lot of self-learned positions and people who actually have the knowledge and competency can join really fast. —Some of the best and biggest growing teams. So it’s pretty incredible to see, and I think that’s something that sometimes even surprises me.
EN: You have competed in WESG and ESWC tournaments in the past, and have achieved first place several times. To the women out there who are inspired by you and are passionate about esports, what would be a piece of advice you have for them?
SH: Those are so important because sometimes, when you read a piece of advice in a magazine, you’re like, “Oh, it’s easy to say because you’re already at the top.” But I really feel that if I listened to my advice now, I wouldn’t even know that it will have such an impact [compared to] when I was younger. One thing to know is that to never give up, and it’s going to be hard. So when it gets hard and you give up, then you will never reach your goal, right? And that’s one thing to focus on.
If you give up before you reach your goal, then you never reach it. So for me, there are so many times where I had setbacks or situations where I had to pretty much only believe in myself to make it happen. And in the end, I made it work, but just know that it’s going to be hard with anything and everything you do. But if you do it and it’s something that you’re passionate about, don’t give up. It’s going to be meaningful for you. So surround yourself with, I would say, a support system of friends, family, people that will always have your back no matter what happens.
Written and interviewed by Amy Chen