The ASTRO Gaming office is located in San Francisco, California not far from AT&T Park and is filled with dozens of talented people that have continued to impress me since my first day in the office. Cole Lovelady, who always seems to be working on something for our ASTRO Family, is our Community and eSports manager.
By the pure grace of the scheduling gods, I managed to pull him away from his work for a few minutes to talk about how he came to be a part of the crew as well as his life away from ASTRO.
K: Who are you exactly to ASTRO Gaming?
Cole: I’m the Community and eSports manager. I interact with our fans, pro teams and members of our community. Anywhere from recreational gamers, eSports pros, livestreamers, websites creating content or partners looking to host events
K: What do you normally do on an average day?
Cole: Usually starts out with a lot of twitter, kind of seeing what’s going on. Checking in with the community and pro teams in the morning. Checking in on emails. Making sure I’m hitting everybody that needs an answer, needs product, needs help.
K: Where are you from originally?
Cole: I’m from Saratoga, originally. Down by San Jose.
K: Anything you miss about that area?
Cole: I miss the suburbs. The city life in San Francisco is alright but it’s a little fast-paced and dirty, gross and in your face. Kinda like to have space and trees and… air.
K: How’d you first get into gaming? What’s your first gaming memory?
Cole: StarCraft. It started out playing in my cub scouts troupe. My scout master was really into video games. In his house he had an 8-person-lan set up with old CRT monitors. And we’d go to his house once a week and we’d talk about camping or scouting or whatever for about 15-minutes, and then we’d play StarCraft together for like two hours.
K: Did you progress pass cub scout?
Cole: Oh yeah, I’m an Eagle Scout.
K: Did you get to play StarCraft through the whole thing?
Cole: Nah, eventually it stopped. Eventually I got a new scout master. I did not StarCraft my way to Eagle Scout. But yeah, [gaming] started out with that and Nintendo 64.
K: Did you have consoles in your home?
Cole: Nah, I never did growing up. Nintendo 64 was the first one I got. I played NES at my friends’ house. I skipped Genesis and Super Nintendo though.
K: What are you currently playing?
Cole: Call of Duty. Peggle. Sometimes StarCraft. And lots of mobile games because I’m traveling to events. So I guess I’m playing DS—a lot of Mario and Mario Kart.
K: What game series has been with you the longest? What can you not get enough of?
Cole: Call of Duty. I think it was Modern Warfare? I probably didn’t start playing it until… I played Halo on original Xbox with my friends and then we started playing more on 360, and then we all got really into Modern Warfare.
K: What’s your favorite gaming related memory?
Cole: I think it was on my 12th birthday. Where we used to live we had the freeway behind our house so we had the freeway wall in my back yard. So for my birthday we hung up a sheet, like a giant sheet on the wall, and all my friends came over and we played Goldeneye on a trampoline in the back yard. We just stayed up all night back there.
K: What do you hope to see for the future of gaming?
Cole: I want to see more eSports on tv in general. I’m a tv junkie just because how I grew up, and I think that would be a sort of validation for them. Like a real sport. I want to see bigger sponsors. Like Coke is coming into stuff, Pepsi and those guys are sponsoring SXSW and realizing that there’s a gaming component to all of this stuff. I just want to see it become more mainstream.
K: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would you say?
K: How did you get into the gaming industry?
Cole: My dad, Brett Lovelady, started ASTRO Studios, and they designed the Xbox 360—so he got me one. And I remember playing on it a lot and he’d come back to me and ask me lots of questions about “Does this controller work this way?” or “Are you enjoying it?”, this and that. So it was always intriguing. I was really into cooking and hands on and being artistic for a while… And then I stated doing customer service with Walter at ASTRO. Breaking down products—stuff that needed to get scrapped. Products that had to get sent back for warranty evaluation. And that was like… an every other weekend or once a month kind of thing. And then it turned into Customer Service Shipments, and then it turned into Customer Service answering cases and then I became the shipping manager for a while. Then office manager. Then community manager and eSports manager. I also definitely worked gas station jobs and valet, all that kind of bs too.
K: What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?
Cole: Play games. Understand them. Follow eSports, follow Youtube and streaming trends. Just stay up to date on the next new hardware, the next new games. Just stay as informed as possible, find as much information as you can. Network, talk to people, go to events. Get hands on and personal with the companies you want to work for. Make a presence with them. You kind of court them in a way.
K: What is your favorite ASTRO product?
Cole: Can I say two? The Scout and the A40s. The A40s because they’re the most comfortable headset I’ve ever worn. I can pretty much wear them all day long while gaming. They look badass. The speaker tag stuff is really fun to swap around with. The neon color series was my favorite by far. The Scout bag because it goes everywhere with me. It does not leave my side. Girls carry their purse, I carry my Scout.
K: So what are your hobbies?
Cole: Drums. I’ve got acoustic drums, I’ve got electronic drums, I’ve got a practice kit that I play on. I have a little studio set up with a bunch of base amps, guitar amps—recording stuff. And that’s pretty much 24/7. I can go there and do that whenever I want.
K: Are you in a band?
Cole: I used to be in bands. I was in lots of bands for a while and then… it’s really hard to get people together and on the same page at the same time. Especially while trying to manage an eSports community. I don’t have that much personal time. Aside from that I hang out with my girlfriend, go thrift shopping, go to flea markets, go hiking, go to the beach. I have a zoo membership and I play games. Call of Duty, if I have any time, that’s the one I’m going to play.
K: Favorite vacation spot.
Cole: Mexico. Puerta Vallarta Mexico. My parents have had a time share there for ten years and so every other year we have like a week’s time down there. And I’ve just really come to know the place and the caretakers and the neighbors. It’s a really freeing place to go. You’re right on the beach. Everything’s cheap.
K: What’s your favorite ASTRO memory?
Cole: I think it would be the launch party of our new office. I had just become the office manager and I had to do the office move and that was my first big project. Working with Bella to launch a party here. Make sure everything went down right and it was smooth. That everyone had a good time, things were cleaned up. Presenting the brand in the right way. And that was the first time I got to interact with or see people in our community that now I interact with on a daily basis as friends, who back then were just like celebrities to me. Our Pro teams and all the Youtube streamers and community members came by and it was cool to see that.
K: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Cole: I wanna live in the Bay Area and have a giant warehouse that I rent out recording and rehearsal spaces to bands and we provide a one-stop shop for everything. We’ll also have a live-stage, we’ll have a bar, we’ll have a music store, we’ll have a recording studio, we’ll have a record label. And if you come and rent from our place you get a package deal. A place to play, a place to record, a place to get gear and just really work on your craft. We help launch these people into the world and we get a little piece of it.
K: Non-ASTRO electronic product you can’t live without?
Cole: I mean… I use my iPhone a lot but that’s… kinda lame. My mophie external battery charger because I’m doing so many events and so many conventions that I would just feel so disconnected without that thing. I need to be powered up.
K: What’s the most important part of a game to you?
Cole: Multiplayer. Interaction and community engagement is what makes it fun for me. If someone’s not crying at the other end of the line, then I’m not having fun. I don’t play campaigns. I never play single-player games. Unless it’s like a puzzle game. Interaction is the most fun part of gaming for me.
K: What’s your passion when you’re not at ASTRO? What really drives you?
Cole: Drums. Music in general. Going to concerts, playing music with my friends, working on my sticking skills for drums. It’s just a good stress relief.
K: What do you do to better yourself?
Cole: I really just try to be aware of my health and what’s going on in the industry.
K: Bet movie of all time in your opinion?
Cole: The Labyrinth, Goonies and Uncle Buck. Dark Crystal is up there too. That’s my favorite. Any puppets or Muppets. Muppets are the shit. I like real special effects, I don’t like CGI.
K: Music that is your jam?
Cole: Jamtronica. Live and improvised electronic music. So it’s like jam bands mixed with electronic music and they just drop the vocals for the most part. The String Cheese Incident and Sound Tribe Sector 9 and the Talking Heads.
K: Speaking of jam, favorite food?
Cole: Pizza. 100% pizza. I love all kinds of pizza. Fat pizza with big crusts, flat pizza with no crust, with everything on it. Sardines and artichokes.
K: Favorite brain food? Like certain books, tv, that kind of thing…
Cole: Vice. The network. I just like the weird fringe type news that most people won’t cover or talk about that’s gross or creepy.
K: Where can people find you?
Cole: @LivinAstro on Twitter.
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