Milo Ocampo, has 16 years’ experience working with companies like Riot Games, building their collegiate initiative, Blizzard Entertainment, running their national collegiate Hearthstone tournament and Team Liquid, contributing to their social media presence. Currently, Milo oversees 8-bit esports, UNLV’s collegiate team, as the co-founder and CEO.
What was it that sparked your initial love of gaming?
I grew up in the Philippines and was constantly surrounded by video games. My dad took us to the arcade and computer cafes a lot to watch him play Street Fighter or Command and Conquer. However, the real love came when I played Pokemon Sapphire for the first time. I was so addicted to that game and never really put it down. Everyone in my life had a deep connection to video games. If I visited my cousins, we’d play Super Smash Bros. Melee, in elementary school, we’d all play Pokemon in the lunch room, in middle school we played Mario Kart, and in high school, we played League of Legends. My love for gaming went hand in hand with my love for people and community because it was constantly the lifeblood of all my relationships.
What was your favorite game growing up?
My favorite game growing up was definitely Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald. I owned all 3 games and put over 500 hours in them.
You’re the Co-Founder behind 8-bit Esports LLC which is an esports collegiate organization. Can you tell us more about this organization and what drove you to launch it?
8-bit Esports used to be a collegiate organization. That was our origin. Since I’m about to graduate, the plan was always to take 8-bit Esports out of UNLV and into the industry itself. Right now, UNLV Esports is the collegiate organization and 8-bit Esports is a professional esports team.
What ultimately drove us to launch a collegiate program was the love for the community. In 2012, Riot Games announced a collegiate initiative to better serve their main demographic. Only 20 schools were accepted into the initial program, and UNLV was one of them. My brother and I had a history of running video game clubs before because we started a “Cyber Sports Club” in middle school back in 2006 and ran tournaments for many years before college. After getting accepted into the Riot program, we had a unique opportunity to learn from industry professionals and shape the entire collegiate infrastructure which is still standing today.
The collegiate club was a way for us to build a community and make lifelong friends. Before the organization, our group of friends would just meet up at the library and play league in between classes and we’d have a ton of fun. The Riot program was a way for us to share our love of video games with the entire campus and provide the fun experience we felt in between classes on a large scale.
The professional team is the culmination of my 15 years of esports knowledge being put into practice to ultimately represent Las Vegas in the highest form of competition. 8-bit Esports’ mission is to house the entire Vegas gaming community and provide a way for gamers to interact with esports in a much deeper and meaningful way. We have a ton of community initiatives like charity streams, community events, and coaching bootcamps that would provide value to gamers of various interests. Our pro team is like the Raiders or the Golden Knights. We’ll be representing Las Vegas in the professional leagues such as the Rocket League Championship Series, the League Championship Series, and the Overwatch League within the next few years.
What’s your day-to-day role at 8-bit?
My role in both the collegiate organization and the professional organization is pretty similar. I delegate tasks to my other founders and officers while also having meetings with sponsors and partners. My main role is to steer the organizations in the right direction through strategizing and integrating the community’s wants and values into our culture and mission.
What excites you the most about esports?
The accessibility of it all. Esports is by everyone, for everyone. Esports embodies the saying “you get what you put in.” If you wanna be a pro, practice hard and compete in the many many many tournaments that go on everyday. If you wanna make friends, find all the discord groups and online platforms to get you connected to likeminded people, or go to collegiate events. If you want a job in the industry, learn from those already running events in your local area and actively network. Esports is incredibly open and inclusive to anyone that genuinely wants to be there.
You were instrumental in helping to launch the Hyper X Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel & Casino. Could you walk us through the journey of when you first heard about the idea to its final execution?
I wouldn’t say I was instrumental, however, a lot of organizations that want to have esports presence in Vegas has come to 8-bit/UNLV for some form of collaboration. The organization that was built definitely succeeded in housing and growing the local gaming community, so when the arena was being built, they wanted to know how to best support our goals so that they could connect with our community. When I first heard about it, I was excited. It was a dedicated venue on a large scale that was going to really bring attention to Vegas. As they were building the arena, I had a few calls with the chief creative officer of Allied Esports to discuss their goals and plans to see if we could synergize our strategies. After that, I was the sole esports representative among other Vegas executives during the hard hat tour. During their soft opening, I invited my championship winning collegiate players (we had just won the inaugural Mountain West Esports tournament) and filled the venue up with UNLV Esports jerseys. We were incredibly well represented and excited during the initial opening of the arena. Now, I believe the arena has a very strong identity and presence in the community, and they hold the absolute best esports productions in the city. I take my family there every time they come visit.
Were you surprised with how well the Hyper X Esports Arena turned out? How often do you visit?
I was very surprised with how the arena looked and the production value it gave. Before COVID, I used to visit at least once a month to compete in some tournaments.
You’re currently assisting with the first esports/gaming venue to be offered at a residential community called Tuscan Highlands which is located in Las Vegas. What was the vision behind this?
The vision is to be the first (and best) residential community with an esports lounge. This lounge is going to bridge a huge gap in the industry by tearing down all barriers to enter and allowing people to experience esports in the most non-overwhelming way possible. There will be tons of social events and tournaments, but the most unique thing will be the educational events that would help inform people that were hesitant or confused about the culture as a whole. This lounge is going to set the precedent that will catalyze the esports culture into mainstream.
What information can you reveal about the Tuscan Highlands gaming venue?
The sheer amount of events and amenities this lounge will have is amazing. It’s going to have 12 state of the art gaming PCs, 5 next gen consoles, and a virtual reality sports simulator all in the same room. The tournaments and social events will provide a unique and immersive experience that will ultimately grow the Tuscan Highlands community closer and if you’re hesitant, the educational events will introduce you to the world and help you become amazing at whichever video game you choose.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about esports, or any other project you are working on?
The biggest barrier the esports community faces is communication. The people with the resources are not talking to the people with the experience and knowledge even though they both want the same thing. The reason why we’re all so confident in the success of Tuscan Highlands is because the management team is incredibly open minded and enthusiastic about learning about esports and they were not afraid of not knowing. They fully understood that one size doesn’t fit all and that the parallels between esports and traditional sports only go so far.
Lastly, if you’d like to follow our journey as we transition from a collegiate organization to a professional esports team, please follow our social medias: @8bit_esports or @8bitesports.
Thank you for the interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit 8-bit esports.