I want to welcome you to the new WGE Girl Gamer interview section which will highlight influential female gamers throughout the world. It only makes sense to start this section with the woman who opened up opportunities to hundreds of women players globally and has helped changed the face of professional gaming world forever. Please join me in welcoming PMS Clan’s co-founder and leader Amber “Athena Twin” Dalton.
Q. Please, tell us a little bit about yourself.
A. Hello, my name is Amber, known throughout the gaming universe as Athena Twin. Besides being co-founder and leader of PMS Clan, I am avid gamer and established marketing and community consultant in the gaming spaces.
Q. When did you start gaming? What was the first game you ever played?
A. I always played games. I remember being glued to games like Centipede and Pac-Man on the Atari , and moving on to Nintendo to master the Mario universe. However, I did not really consider myself a gamer until I began playing FPS games like Halo online through Game Spy (this was before the Xbox Live days). Online game play opened up a whole new world of competitive game play and enabled me to find other gamers like me from all over. Shortly after Xbox Live came out in 2002, my twin sister (Amy “Athena” Brady) and I formed the PMS Clan and the rest is history. Now, most of my days are spent on PC games such as World of Warcraft (for the Alliance!) and Team Fortress 2 while I feed my insane obsession of facebook games.
Q. When did you decide to become a professional player?
A. Although my sister and I competed in Halo tournaments throughout Texas, our first PRO event was MLG Dallas 2006. We took 4 teams into the event and my team placed championship bracket there—the first time an all-female team placed in a top co-event. From that first event, I knew I wanted to play competitively and push PMS girls to get out there with me.
Q. How does it feel like living the ultimate gamer lifestyle?
A. I have been very fortunate to find a career with my passion of gaming; both from my former career as a player and manager to my current role as a gaming marketing consultant. Thanks to gaming I have been able to travel to places like South Africa, Tai Pei, France, Germany and England. Throughout my travels I have meet amazing people and have amazing experiences that would not have been possible if it was not for gaming.
Q. What games are you currently competing in? How many hours a day do you train for a tournament?
A. Although I still spend over 30 hours a week gaming, I am retired from professional play. I am actually thankful for that since I am able to play a variety of games now. When you are training for competitions in a game, it takes time and commitment just like any other job. Most professional players spend upwards of 40+ hours playing the title they are competing in.
Q. Did the fact that you started competing and training as a professional player affected your personal life in any way?
A. Absolutely. This is a major issue many professional players face in their personal lives. The key is to make sure loved ones understand your commitment is on a job level and to balance gaming in your life. I found it much easier to justify my game time to my family once I began gaining success in mainstream media and financial compensation. Non-gamers simply just cannot understand the gamer lifestyle and passion.
Q. Please tell us about the beginnings of PMS Clan and how did you manage to take it where it is today in an industry that is mostly dominated by men.
A. With the launch of Xbox Live, my sister and I were introduced to something that would change our gaming lives forever…the headset. Once we were able to identify other female in the game, we began searching them out to start a clan. Myself, Athena, PMS Blues, Fraggity Ann and Wildthing were the first leaders of the clan, and at first we did it just for the fun of some girls kicking butt together. However, once Xbox Live grew and the mass influx of harassment and sexism started, we knew we needed to refocus our mission to providing a safe and positive competitive environment for female gamers.
Q. Tell us about PMS Clan today, how it has grown since it was founded?
A. PMS Clan has over 1000 girl globally and we now have divisions in North America, South America, Asia and Europe. To align with our mission statement of providing a competitive and positive environment for women in gaming, we opened a brother group, H2O Clan, to find a home for the male gamers that supported us. We are a huge global family and it constantly amazes me the time, energy and resources all of us volunteer to keep our organization strong and rewarding.
Q. PMS Clan is known worldwide as the largest female gaming clan around the globe, but what some people don’t know is that PMS Clan also helps different charity causes with an initiative called Pandora’s Hope. Please tell us about this initiative and what have PMS Clan accomplished so far.
A. Officially, we have helped raised over $70,000 for charities and members have done drives on their own for even more. I take pride in the fact that so many of our members want to give back in ways that are meaningful and go pat the simplicity of just playing a game.
Q. Besides PMS Clan being a big hit in your professional career, which other achievements are you proud of as a gamer girl?
A. Besides promoting and pioneering women in gaming through the PMS Clan, I have lots of accomplishments I take pride in. One of the biggest recognition awards I received was NextGen’s Top 100 Most Influential Women in Gaming Industry. It was a honor to be listed as a gamer next to so many amazing women in gaming pioneers, superstars, CEO’s and developers. I also take pride in my numerous mainstream media features such as MTV, Entertainment Weekly, and national syndicated news programs which have helped bring gaming—not just female gaming—to mainstream audiences all over the world. The most meaningful accomplishment from this all is the marketing and business expertise in gaming I have acquired over the years which has enabled me to make a full career in gaming as a marketing and community consultant.
Q. As a business woman, are you happy with what you’ve achieved so far or you think you have work left to do with the clan and as a professional gamer?
A. I defiantly still have work to do and so many more places I would like to take PMS Clan. I have really begun to acquire a love for casual games. Currently, the only way to get membership into PMS Clan is to complete a month recruitment with minimum hours on a game we offer a division for. I would love to see something created that opens up our organization to all the casual female gamers as well. We have structural issues that conflict with this since we have been a competitive-focused group from creation, but I am sure myself and our leaders will come to some sort of solution soon.
Q. The online gaming scene is known for being the perfect place for bullies and perverts to get the gamer girls a hard time while playing, how did you handle this and what advice can you give to all the girls out there that deal with situations like this every day?
A. Harassment is the nature of the online beast. People will do anything they can when they hide behind the anonymity of their headsets. The best advice I can give is to join a group that supports your ideals and surrounds you with friendship and support…and learn to love the mute button.
Q. What’s the best advice you can give to all the girls that want to become PRO?
A. For men or women, PRO status is hard to achieve. While obvious practice and skill are key, players should be aware they need to prove their worthiness to sponsors. Join online tournaments first to justify your skill and go to as many live events as you can afford to get your face and name recognition. If you don’t have it already, develop marketing strategies that set you or your team apart and highlight those attributes. Lastly, be prepared to spend a few years working to the bone, because success—even for top players—is not easily achieved.
Q. There’s anything else you’d like to add?
A. I just want to thank so many of our supporters and members over the years, especially the over 75 amazing leaders in PMS and H2O Clan who help keep our organization and mission alive! <3
We want to thank Amber Dalton for taking the time to do this interview with us.
To find out more about Amber Dalton and PMS Clan visit www.pmsclan.com
Julieta Martino for WGE.
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