Games.Con 2018 – Interview with Milan Dumić
Games.Con is known to be the biggest gaming and pop culture festival in Serbia that brings together everyone interested and passionate about tournaments in the most popular games, online and esports, as well as exhibitions of comics fandom and fantasy franchise. Like in previous years, I was excited and thrilled to take part in the festival’s programme and reconnect with people and friends from the gaming world.
This year’s festival was very special for me because I was invited by In Games We Trust and a dear friend of mine Danica Manojlović, the Finalist for the Women in Games Award for Games Campaigner of the Year 2018, to talk about my involvement and contribution to the esports development in Serbia and Europe, and The Mental Craft project. But I wasn’t alone; next to me, there were other famous names that got picked to talk about their esports careers, such as Stefan ”Djuka93” Đukić, one of the best Hearthstone players in the region currently working as the team manager for HS team at Crvena Zvezda Esports and Mila “nepenthe” Jovanov, from Relog.Media.
My interviewer was no other than Sandro “SandroXiX” Nisić, a streamer and extremely talented CS: GO player. In the past, I had a pleasure to cooperate with Sandro on organizing the first gaming section for elementary and high school in Balkans. We sat down to talk about my gaming background, what drove me into esports and how I decided to combine gaming and sports psychology. Unfortunately, the interview was done in the Serbian language, but I did my best to summarize some key talking points. At the very end of the article, you can check out the interview and enjoy my story.
[Sandro] You managed to combine two things, gaming and sports psychology – now tell me, what was your first game ever and PC?
[Milan] I played my first game 20 years ago, and it was if I recall correctly, Bugs Bunny: Lost in Times. Soon after that I moved to play Hockey and FIFA from EA… and yes, Age of Empires. And later Counter-Strike 1.6. As for my first PC, it was home built… Pentium II. Gaming back then was all about having fun. I took part in a few CS 1.6 tournaments, nothing worth mentioning was accomplished…and also, Dota1.
[S] What was your first competition and how was it?
[M] It was a CS tournament, and I remember it being very chaotic – it looked nothing like today. We [players and teams] all were in this one huge room for gaming… and several games were played at the same time. Shouting was one of the ways to communicate any tactics with your team…in return, players from other teams shouted back at you. It was a hell of a fun.
[S] Sports psychology and gaming, how did that happen?
[M] I played sports all my life and that is why I chose to pursue a career as a sports psychologist. I did my studies in Finland and during my stay over there, I got exposed to so many different people from different parts of the world…that exposure and the chance to meet new people on a daily basis got me thinking to combine these two important elements of my life, one being gaming and the other sports psychology…that is how I got here, plain and simple. After I finished my studies, my colleague and I decided to create The Mental Craft, a consulting agency for esports. The idea is to help gamers and team achieve their full potential and performer at max level. Very soon, two of my colleagues from TMC started working onsite with two LoL teams, Misfits Gaming and Fnatic… which was a great accomplishment for us as a team.
[S] The key difference between normal sports and gaming from a sports psychology perspective?
[M] In normal or traditional sport, there is a clear path on how to become a professional player. You start playing very young and specialize early in one of the sports. You go through different categories. By the time you get a chance to play your first professional game, you are already ready for the “stage”, in some way.
In gaming, it is a different story. The industry is young and unforgiving. One day you are playing pugs and soloQ from your room and the next day you are invited to play for a professional team. All of a sudden you are thrown to play in front of a live audience and compete. That transition is so sudden and a huge step for every person. This is not bad, it is just the way it is for most players. Some players overcome this, while other struggle.
[S] We know that more and more professional teams now have their own sports psychologists, tell me how exactly do you help a team?
[M] We are there to help teams perform as unite, a well-oiled machine that can face any obstacles and battle any team. The majority of our time goes on helping teams improve their communications and team cohesion. Of course, we also work with players individually to overcome their problems and issues.
[S] There has been a lot of talk about gaming being addictive, so tell me how should parents deal with this situation and what advice can you give them?
[M] This is the age of technology and everything is digital. People are exposed to it [digitalization] every day. Parents should try to be involved as much as they can regarding what their kid is doing. I don’t necessarily think you can escape from tablets, phones, and computers, it is all good as long as it is balanced.
[S] My final question would be, where can people find?
[M] You can find me and my team, The Mental Craft, on social media. We also have our webpage and there you can find different topics regarding esports. If you want to reach out, please do. It doesn’t cost you anything, except time.
Foto: Games.con, Nemanja Đorđević