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Interview with Jay Umboh of the AGP

Imagine a world where you can actually make a living by playing games; and I'm not talking about testing them. Sound far-fetched? Well it's not. In fact, video game tournaments offering cash prizes are becoming more and more frequent, and if you've got the skills, you can earn yourself a pretty penny by playing the games you love. Below is an interview with Jay Umboh from the Associates of Gaming Professionals; an organization dedicated to hosting tournaments, and giving serious players a shot at making a living with their talents.

Well, first of all, I'd like to congratulate you on getting the AGP off the ground. The organization's premiere event, the Winter 2002 Halo Championship, took place this November, and judging from what I saw, I'd say it was a big success!

Thank you, we were definitely excited with the turn out and would like to thank the sponsors that believed in us, Gamestop, Xbox, Altec Lansing and Bawls.

Can you tell us a little bit about what the experience was like trying to get that event to take place? For instance, was it difficult to find sponsors?

This is something I've always wanted to do, I'm a big time gamer so it just made sense. It's one of those crazy ideas that you discuss with your friends, but never do. It just so happened we went through with this one. I definitely could not have done it without the help of my friends. Most of what you saw there was their doing.

It was a lot more work than I expected, but it was �fun' work. Getting sponsors was probably the hardest thing to do. When corporations don't understand what you are trying to accomplish, convincing them to give you money is similar to pulling teeth. So for the first event, we pretty much have to prove to them that we can pull this off. Thankfully, we did. Gamestop was especially impressed and we are working on bigger and better things for the next one.

Looking back on the event, what are your personal feelings about it? Is there anything you'd change in the future?

That being our first event, I'm really proud of the outcome. We received many compliments that meant a lot to us. It just confirms our belief in this league, the gamers, and in making console video gaming a profession.

Of course we had a lot of suggestions too. Some more welcomed than others. As someone suggested, we just can't host this event in a gentleman's club, sorry. Seriously though, we learned a lot from the first event. We also wanted to pay close attention to gamers suggestions. We can't wait to implement some new ideas for the next event.

I'd imagine a large portion of our readers are unfamiliar with the organization, can you give them some insight as to what the AGP actually is? And what are some of your short term goals for the organization?

AGP stands for the Associates of Gaming Professionals. Basically, we are a professional video gaming league that hosts big prize money tournaments using hotel ballrooms as venues. Currently, we are using Xbox and the game Halo as platform.

We want to be the NFL or PGA of console gaming. We want to get as many gamers we can in one place 3 times a year; give them a stage to compete with the best, a place to meet other gamers face to face and a chance to win some cash and prizes. A big goal is to get them televised in a sports-like environment. Once that happens, the sky's the limit.

Gaming on national TV? Do you feel that the industry is ready to take that next step?

Yes, it's just a matter of how you present it. Put up enough prize money, people will watch pong. Thankfully, Halo is definitely not pong, it's a whole lot more intricate and interesting.

Have you talked to anyone from the G4 network about getting tournaments televised? That would seem like a good bet for starters.

Not yet. They and Tech TV are prime options, but we would also like to go after general networks like TNT, TNN, NBC etc.

I've got to tell you; the prospect of having gaming as a profession is definitely appealing. Imagine having video game tournaments being aired on national TV during the same time as a Hockey or Baseball game! Sounds almost too good to be true!

Why not? Have you seen some of the stuff on TV these days? The great thing about video gaming is that literally anyone can do it and it's fun to play and watch. So the market could be huge.

You have said that you're using the Xbox as the platform of the organization, and Halo as the game. What do you feel qualifies these two to represent the AGP?

You need a game that's visually appealing with great game play and a console with networking that can run it. The game must incorporate strategy, teamwork and skill. I chose Halo because it meets all those requirements and it's arguably the best FPS game ever for a console and the community support is there. I chose Xbox because of Halo. Microsoft did it right with the Xbox. It is the most powerful console ever, which frees up game developers to create whatever games they can imagine. One of those games happens to be Halo.

Is it possible that you may change the platform and/or game in the current console generation? Or are you more likely to stick with one console and game for each generation of hardware?

It's always possible, but at the moment, not likely, especially with Halo 2 coming out.

Also, the future tournaments listed on the website are still using Halo. Do you plan on using the same game types and format that you used in November? Or is it too far off to tell just yet?

There will be some changes in the format to make it a little more balanced and exciting, but no major changes at the moment.

This past tournament had a pretty sizable turn out, but I've heard you'd like to see it increase in future tournaments. What kind of steps are you taking to get the word out about the organization?

I'll use a lot of the same steps I took to spread the first event. Mainly word of mouth, flyers at events, and getting it posted on gaming sites such as CV-Games and bungie.net. I'll do as many interviews like this as possible. There's a good chance we will get a write up in Game Informer a magazine owned by Gamestop. There's also the video we are putting together. As soon as that's completed, we will let everyone know. Whatever it takes.

Well, that's all the questions I've got for you, I appreciate you taking the time to answer them. I wish you and the organization the best of luck in the future, and look forward to attending your future events. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about the AGP?

Thank you. I would like to thank everyone that was at our first event. We couldn't have done it without your support. If you thought the first one was great, wait until the next one. Spread the word and see you in March.

Oh wait�I do have one more question; can you hook me up with one of the AGP girls? Please?

:), which one?

The blonde, definitely the blonde.

For more information on the AGP, check out their website at www.theagp.com.

By Ryan Schaefer - 12/10/02

Screenshots for Interview with Jay Umboh of the AGP

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