School of Arts, Media and Engineering alum launches esports career
Marissa Rohr quit her job this year. It was the next step in pursuing her passion for esports — and a move that has paid off for the ASU alumna.
After graduating from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering in 2017, Rohr started a career in construction but then wanted to focus on local esports events instead. In January of this year, she seized an opportunity to help out with the Arizona High School Esports Championship. She called this a pivotal moment for her as she then decided to quit her construction career to pursue a future in esports and content creation.
She started sharing her gaming experience on the streaming platform Twitch. As Rohr began building her fanbase on Twitch, she remained on the hunt for more esports opportunities and events she could help organize. In July, she stumbled upon a Twitter post from an esports company called Mainline and reached out to the company. Mainline hired her as a contractor to assist in an esports tournament hosted on Twitch by ESPN. Shortly after, Rohr was offered another opportunity to join a streaming team called 517, where she continues to stream on Twitch and facilitate tournaments.
Rohr said she hopes to continue down the path of content creation and esports and she recently shared her thoughts about that journey.
Question: What sparked your interest in the esports/content creation scene? Was there a defining moment where you knew this was what you wanted to pursue as a career?
Answer: I’ve always been a gamer, a geek, a weirdo – whatever you want to call it! I love nerd culture as a whole, and gaming is something I’ve been passionate about my entire life. I’ve wanted to pursue content creation since about 2014, when I started college. I was really inspired by groups like RoosterTeeth to start making videos on YouTube, then slowly progressed into livestreaming on Twitch. Being a full-time student at ASU had me put a hold on streaming for several years, but I finally got back into it in 2019.
My interest definitely sparked again when I went to the Arizona High School Esports Championship this past January.
Q: Could you tell me a bit more about that experience and how it shaped your decision to pursue esports as a career?
A: Yeah! So that was seriously the inaugural Arizona High School Esports Championship in the back of Tempe Marketplace’s Dave & Buster's. It really sparked something in me, especially after taking my first steps into the real world with my first career – that I didn’t have to settle for a job that drained me, that there really is a possibility of bringing my passions into my career choice.
Q: How long have you been a streamer on Twitch? What kind of games do you play? What was the process like to start up your own streaming channel?
A: I am what they call a variety streamer, so I play games from battle royale FPSfirst-person shooter games like Apex Legends, to indie games like Stardew Valley, to old school games like Pokemon Blue! It’s difficult to start up for sure. There’s a lot of investment and commitment needed to do it. Luckily some consoles have the Twitch app available to help you start streaming, but to really get serious you need equipment, and more importantly, you need patience. I sat for a few months when I started back in 2019 at four to seven viewers, while a year later I pulled in about 20 to 30. Slow but steady!
Q: Could you describe in more detail what Mainline does and how you have been involved with them?
A: So Mainline is a tournament software company that specializes in collegiate and high school esports tournaments. We have our own development, production, graphic and administrative teams, which is the one I’m on. Back in July, I saw a post on Twitter of someone — Myra! — looking for assistance. I messaged someone and they got back to me to help on a tournament that turned out to be hosted by ESPN on Twitch, which included a large variety of professional and amateur women streamers. I worked two events with them as a contractor before Myra reached out to me while hiring for a full-time tournament administrator position and gave me an offer.
Q: You mentioned a viewer of your Twitch channel reached out and extended an opportunity to work with another team called 517 to do content creation and partner with you as a streamer, not long after you teamed up with Mainline. What does partnering with 517 mean for you as a Twitch streamer?
A: So I basically do my same ol’ thing streaming just with their support behind me, and my representation of them in front. It has been heartwarming honestly. There’s a lot of really amazing people involved in the organization that come to support me during streams and even outside of that. They provide insight and tips for creators in the organization, which is helpful for growth.
Recently the CEO, Eric, reached out to me and Nathan Robinson to be lead content creators within the team and help form content, videos, streams, community activities and essentially become more of the face of the 517 brand.
Q: How do you think your degree with the School of Arts, Media and Engineering helped propel you forward in your career as a content creator?
A: Having access to equipment I couldn’t afford while in college was a tremendous help. I remember starting up streaming my freshman year and being able to use the Macs in the lab to create icons, overlays and thumbnails for Twitch and YouTube.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in joining the world of content creation and esports?
A: They really mean it when they say it’s a grind. It’s not easy to get back to it after a bad stream or losing a championship. But it’s the effort that you put in every day that’ll make all the difference in the end.
Also, make friends. Share your success, learn from others and stay true to yourself and what you want to represent in the industry.