Growing up as a gamer (JRPGs are my thing, personally), I often dreamed about how I could parlay my love of Final Fantasy and Suikoden into a viable career.
As you can probably guess, I never did figure out that secret. Sure – I’m happy being a writer, but I still lose weekends to the Persona series on the regular.
Someone who did figure out the secret to turning a love for video games into an actual career is Levi Haag, an eSports journalist who launched MoreMOBA, a website dedicated to the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre of games, which includes such smash hit as League of Legends and DOTA 2.
If you’re a regular player of MOBAs, you probably think Haag has a pretty sweet gig, and I don’t blame you. But Haag isn’t just a figure of inspiration for gamers: He’s a good example for entrepreneurs (would-be and otherwise) of all stripes. Who doesn’t want to turn their passion into a thriving business?
We held a Q&A session with Haag to learn more about how he started MoreMOBA and the advice he has for entrepreneurs who want to tread a similar path.
Recruiter.com: Why did you start MoreMOBA?
Levi Haag: I started the website when I noticed that there were other websites that would skim the top of the news [about MOBAs] and some that would cover one or two of the games – but to get all of the news, I needed to visit two or three websites. I knew that if there were a website that covered all the games, then I would visit it – and there had to be other people who felt the same way as me.
RC: How did you decide on the niche for your business?
LH: My websites niche was a matter of watching the trend and realizing that the foundation was built. The ground floor was empty, so I was able to claim some valuable space as my own!
RC: Did you run into any challenges getting the site off the ground?
LH: The biggest challenge for me was I never appreciated how much work goes into the details. Every photo needs to be cropped and resized, all the sources need to be cited, the Facebook and Twitter accounts need someone to watch them, and there needs to be planning for everything. I usually don’t plan things out, so it wasn’t as easy to get 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans together.
RC: What’s your background like? Did it help you get the site off the ground?
LH: I studied broadcasting and writing while I was in school. I went in with the dream of becoming a writer for television. I worked on some news shows and even a soap opera, but never really loved it like I thought I would.
When I wasn’t in class or on a television set, I could be found playing games with my roommates. Halo 2 was released while we were in school, and together we formed a team – “H8ers,” named after our dorm apartment number. We were all ranked in the top ten of the national leaderboard, and that was the start of my love for eSports. I never played on a team like that again, and I never considered making it into a job. But my passion grew, and as the scene got bigger, there was even more for me to watch and love.
RC: What role does your passion play in running the site?
LH: Passion is important because it keeps you coming back, even when it’s not easy. Starting a website was easy – but keeping it going took passion. I love to talk about the games, and I knew there were plenty of things I could talk about, but I didn’t anticipate how much time it would take. Without passion, I would have given up after a month.
RC: How did you know it was time for your hobby to turn into a business?
LH: I think a hobby turns into a business when you realize that there are people out there who are willing to consume what you produce, and you make plans to produce for the purpose of consumption.
There are plenty of businesses that fail, so don’t worry about the first check, or even your first customer. If you are passionate about what you are producing, it’s just a matter of finding the right audience.
RC: When did you start to feel like your site was really starting to takeoff?
LH: The first moment I knew we would be successful was when the site was shared on Reddit by a community member. It made me realize that there are people who read my website besides just my friends – that the things I wrote were being read by people all over the world. It’s one thing to see the numbers, but it’s a whole other thing to see the actual people.
It was also encouraging to see traffic from ESPN’s newly opened eSports section coming to my website. That made me realize that I wasn’t as small as I thought. If ESPN was looking at my website, who knows who else was checking it out!
RC: What’s the big-picture plan? Where do you see MoreMOBA going?
LH: I see my website as a hub for news in the MOBA world. Right now, there are websites like ESPN and GosuGamers that cover just the eSports section of the games, but there are plenty of people who want to know when the latest patch will come out, when a new character might get released, what the rewards are at the end of a season, or what’s going on in some of the other games besides the one they already play.
That’s where my website comes in. I want us to be the first place people go when they want a quick recap of the past weekend’s games or a glance at what the newest update to a game will bring. When they want to know what the latest Heroes of the Storm meta is, or which team won the Smite World Championship, I want them to open up MoreMOBA.
RC: Do you have any advice for readers who might also want to turn their passions into businesses?
LH: My best advice for anyone looking to turn their passion into a business is to get the support of the people around them – and then make the leap. Keep yourself accountable, and don’t wait for a formal invitation.
I’ve known people who are incredibly talented, but who are so afraid of failing that they fall into the trap of waiting. There are plenty of stories of people who could have bought – but didn’t – shares of Apple and Microsoft, and they all share the same sentiment: I should have taken a chance.