James Caron: Well, I have been gaming competitively for over 5 years. I got my start on Unreal Championship for the original Xbox. Even though there was never really anything on the line (aside from respect, of course), I took things like clan matches very seriously. As a person, I just hate to lose in general, and that aspect of my personality just transferred over to gaming. The icing on the cake came in 2006 when the existence of MLG was brought to my attention. I became involved with a team that was one of the bigger names in MLG, even though at the time they played Halo and I played Battlefield: Modern Combat. I was shocked. I had heard of gaming tournaments, but nothing on that scale. I knew immediately that I wanted to do what I could to get involved, so I began playing Gears of War religiously when it came out with the hopes that it would go MLG.
James: As gamers (and people, for that matter), we all have our own individual strengths and weaknesses. As an instructor, I try to help people identify exactly what those are, and then help mold them into the player they want to be. In Gears of War 2, there really is no wrong way to play as long as you are good at what you do. The most important thing I provide for people, however, is the correct mentality. I have long thought that the biggest difference between a great gamer, and a good gamer is mostly mental. Things as simple as awareness of your teammates positions on the map can make all the difference. To me, the mental aspect of the game covers a very wide variety of things : things like confidence, decision making and teamwork which I find essential to not only being a great Gears player, but a great gamer in general.
TXD:What do you charge?
James: Currently, my normal rate is 25$ an hour. However, I am normally open to negotiations.
TXD: How long do the sessions normally last?
James: It depends. Some players need more work than others before they are satisfied. It usually just comes down to how committed to getting better the student is.
TXD: Have you seen improvement in your students?
James: I have seen substantial improvement in my students. Though I have only recently decided to offer this service to the general public (for a price of course), I have been doing something similar for a majority of my gaming career. In the past, I have prided myself on finding the ‘next big talent’ and doing what I can help them improve, and have done so many times. All the people who I have done this for previously have either been teammates, or good friends though. I thought maybe with gaming growing, more people would like to have that same opportunity.
TXD: Who would you recommend take classes? What type of gamers do you normally work with (Such as age groups and skill levels, whether tournament or casual players)?
James: I have worked with a very diverse group of gamers. A lot of times, the players I have worked with started out as casual gamers just playing for fun, but overtime developed into incredible competitive gamers. A lot of MLG/competitive players don’t realize how many people at there are just completely unaware of the competitive gaming scene. Also, it’s not always aspiring professional gamers that come to me, sometimes a persons main motivation is to just do better in matchmaking or something so they can impress their friends. The vast majority of my pupils have been males from the ages of 16 to 22
TXD: How do your clients get in touch with you?
James: Usually, they either contact me through my xbox live gamertag (TLR ClouD1), or through my AIM screen name (og james c).
TXD: Do you see this as a way to get more people interested in MLG or as just a hobby?
James: I see it as a little of both. Obviously, I would love to share the great experiences I have had through MLG with other players. I also just really enjoy teaching people, and seeing them improve.
TXD: Are you making a substantial amount of money, as in enough to live on, or is this a side project?
James: (Laughs) As of now, it’s more of side project. A way to earn a little extra on the side, while doing something I really enjoy. However, I could see it as a legitimate profession in the future.
TXD: How many hours do you spend online training for MLG?
James: That depends. Right now is considered the “off season” for MLG, so I don’t play too hardcore. However, starting in about February, it would not be out of the ordinary to put 6 or more hours a day in. It’s the same in between events, about 6+ hours a day, usually at least 5 days a week.
TXD: How is your career playing tournament games?
James: I have had a very successful career so far. I have consistently placed in the top 6 (out of 128 teams usually) throughout my Gears of War career, as well as a few top 4 finishes. Also, though Gears of War was my first MLG game, I have also won a goodly amount of money/prizes/respect from playing other games such as Call of Duty 4, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Unreal series, and many more.
TXD: Do you have any tips for Gears 2 players?
James: (Laughs) I have quite a few, that’s why I’m doing this! Overall, though it may sound cliche, I think one of the better pieces of advice I can give is just play smart, and work hard. Even if you are frustrated, try to keep a cool head, recognize what areas of the game you are weak in, and work on them one by one. Use your teammates effectively by communicating and just try to keep a positive attitude.
TXD: What games, besides Gears 2, are you playing?
James: Right now, I’m just trying to catch up on all the incredible games that came out this year. It’s nice to take a break from GoW 2 by playing games like Fallout 3 (which is amazing by the way), Chrono Trigger, Left 4 Dead and Prince of Persia. I’m a big fan of RPG games, as well as single player games with an engaging story as it is a nice change of pace to the pressure of playing competitively.
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