Get to Know: Anna "uNcontroLable" Prosser Robinson

Posted 5th of Nov 2013 by Will Partin

You watch Jaedong’s stream whenever you can. You’ve seen every one of Snoopeh’s videos, and you follow Fear on Twitter. Maybe you’ve even stalked iNcontroL’s Reddit account. But how well do you really know Evil Geniuses? “Get to Know” is a new series of interviews focusing on the management and administration of Evil Geniuses. Every few weeks, we’ll publish an interview with a member of our administrative staff, from coaches to managers, and even the finance guys. We think they are just as important as the players to this big, amazing thing called eSports, and they too deserve recognition for the hours of hard work they put in behind the scenes.

This week, I'm talking to one of the most visible women in all of eSports, Anna "uNcontroLable" Prosser Robinson.  Known across the world as an event host of the highest order, Anna has also demonstrated an exceptional capacity for working behind the scenes, producing video content, overseeing EG teams' daily operations and manging public relations initiatives. Recently, Anna and I spoke over Skype to discuss her personal history in gaming, her work for EG, and her opinions on women in eSports. 

  • Will Partin

    Good morning, Anna! Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. I know things must be busy in San Fransisco, so I'll get right into questions. For those who don’t know, would you mind giving us a quick “elevator speech” about who you are and what you do for EG, broadly speaking. We’ll get into the specifics soon.

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    My name is Anna Prosser Robinson. I’m an eSports media personality and I work full time in creative media for Evil Geniuses.

  • Will Partin

    You’ve mentioned in interviews before that even though you didn’t follow competitive gaming growing up, you have always been interested in games and gaming culture. How did you get interested in that as a kid? What kind of games were you into?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    My father and grandmother are most responsible for my love of games. My dad built us a gaming PC before it was common to have one at home, and when we were young, we played DOS games like Commander Keen and Captain Comic. Eventually, after we got a second PC, my dad put one upstairs and one in the basement, networked them together, and laughed while my brother and I yelled at each other via AIM over games of Warcraft. My first console experiences were with my grandmother who, to this day, maintains her original Intellivision console in pristine condition, even though she has since become a member of a competitive Wii bowling team! There were important games on N64 and GameBoy that helped bring me up as a gamer, many of which I played alongside my brother. I like to think that gaming is in my genes.

  • Will Partin

    You’ve also said before that your interest in eSports didn’t really begin until college. Can you give us a little more info on how you first became interested in eSports and the point at which you saw yourself getting into the scene professionally.

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    I always loved video games, but I wasn’t really aware that competitive gaming existed on a large scale until I met my now-husband, Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson in college. I loved staying up all night watching matches, cheering him on in clan wars, and learning all about Brood War by doing my homework to the voices of Machine, Idra, LZGamer, G5, Ret, and others on Ventrilo. Geoff didn’t even have a headset at the time and listened through his stock Dell PC speakers!

    As I learned more about the game, I eventually found TeamLiquid.net and fell in love with the energy and potential of the young StarCraft pro scene. I knew it was unlikely that I would ever have the drive or skill to become a pro gamer myself, so I took stock of my own talents, and tried to match them with something that I thought would contribute to the scene. At that time, not many people were making videos or doing much in the way of video interviews, so that’s what I started doing. People liked my work and, eventually, I made enough videos to get the attention of some organizations, which started offering me small payments to make videos for them. I suppose that’s where the possibility of eSports as a profession for me was born.

  • Will Partin

    And how did you make the transition to working full time for Evil Geniuses?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    I had been doing work in video hosting for some of EG’s sponsors for quite some time and right around the time that preparations for the EG Lair began, I finally convinced them that they needed someone to focus on making videos for the organization. Back then, I was working as a recruiter for a finance company in a stable career that I knew would be comfortable and predictable for the rest of my life. Honestly, that was terrifying. I knew that if I didn’t take the risk when I had the chance, I would always regret not trying to make a career out of my creative and performative talents, especially in my beloved world of video games. So in July of 2011, I quit my job in Oregon and moved to the EG Lair.

  • Will Partin

    If you weren’t in eSports what do you think you’d be doing now? And do you see your work with EG as a permanent career, or do you have other professional goals?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    I would say my dream job would be as a successful actress/host/vocal artist who was also a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, but maybe I can do that and work at EG at the same time. Who knows? Either way, I don’t have plans for leaving anytime soon.

  • Will Partin

    Your job title with EG is “Creative Media and PR Management.” Officially, what does that entail? And how about in practice? Give us an idea of your average day.

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    Honestly, we make those titles up on the fly every time we are asked to do an interview. We’ve talked about making EG as an organization officially “title-less” because all of our job responsibilities change so much from day to day, and we all have such a wide variety of duties. Primarily, at least as of now, “Creative Media” refers mostly to video production, so I oversee and participate in the production of all videos that we release. Today, for example, my work will be a mixture of video editing, task management for the creative department, and communicating with the interested parties for each video. The PR title is more honorary and project-based, as I did a lot of initial inquiry into our brand and served as an advisor on how to communicate with the community - however, I don’t actively participate in PR tasks right now… at least, this month.

  • Will Partin

    You’re also quite well known as Miss Oregon 2011. Is there any commonality between your work in pageantry and what you do for EG or eSports in general?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    Despite most people’s assumptions, there is quite a bit more to be gained from pageantry than meets the eye, when it’s done right. Being Miss Oregon USA taught me valuable interpersonal, performance, promotional, social media, and other business skills that I still use on a day-to-day basis.

  • Will Partin

    And how has your role in the organization changed since you first began working with EG? In what ways have you seen the organization grow as a whole, and perhaps more importantly, what remains to be done?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    When I first joined EG, I was hired by Scott “SirScoots” Smith, who was very much on the same page as I in terms of my involvement being focused on video production.  However, as things turned out, Scott and I didn’t end up working directly together, and the supervisors I ended up with were under the impression that I had been signed on mostly as the operations manager for the EG Lair (to use the dreaded phrase: the “house mom”). I had to prove that I could fulfill that role while still making videos.

    In all transparency, it was a difficult time in my life, going from a fairly successful career to the bottom of the totem pole. But over the years I have worked with EG, I’ve handled projects in everything from video production to logistics, on-screen performance, operations, and even mentorship -- my role continues to evolve. I’m happy to say that now, in the EG HQ in San Francisco, I feel accepted, appreciated, and in a role where I really can make a difference.

  • Will Partin

    I’d argue that of all the different scenes in eSports, you are most well known in StarCraft II.  At the same time, it’s pretty widely held that the StarCraft scene’s viewership has plateaued and even started crumbling. Do you see your career as tied at all to StarCraft, and, if so, how are you responding to StarCraft’s changing circumstances. Do you follow or participate in any other scenes?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    In eSports, I think it’s important to recognize that, in terms of popularity, every game will experience a bell curve of sorts. I think there have been certain incidents that have (perhaps) accelerated StarCraft’s decline in viewership, but I don’t by any means think it’s “crumbling.” I intend to stay involved in StarCraft for some time yet! That said, because of the trend I mentioned and as a person with an eSports career, it’s important to stay involved in many games as they come along. I’ve had some involvement in Dota 2, World of Tanks, League of Legends, and a couple fighting games as well. I’m always looking to do more.

  • Will Partin

    On a related note, it seems like you’ve been focusing less on “hosting” events than on your behind the scenes work with EG. Is this by design? How has your career changed in the last year or so?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    That has been completely unintentional. Hosting is perhaps my favorite part of my job. Though I have done a bit of work outside of eSports with gaming in general, we have been so busy behind the scenes that I and those that represent me haven’t had the time to secure as many hosting gigs as I would like. I hope that will change in the next year, perhaps even with some new representation to help me make it happen while I focus on EG.

  • Will Partin

    Let’s turn to another topic: women in eSports. One of the less savory aspect of eSports culture, I think, is that, as a woman, you are subject to a different (or additional) set of criticisms. How do you respond to that kind of criticism?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    I believe that if you are in a public role you must view yourself are a role model. Thus, I take my public position as one of few women in eSports very seriously. That doesn’t mean that I’m always a perfect example or even consistently send the right messages, but I am conscious of my responsibility to help create a future in our industry where women can expect equal (and hopefully more compassionate) treatment. When I receive criticism, then, it’s my hope that I can ignore that which is not constructive, accept that which will help me improve, and speak out against that which is harmful to the collective environment of equality that I know we all hope for.

  • Will Partin

    Have there been any particularly tough moments?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    The toughest moments are when my work is not allowed to speak for itself.  I’m sure most internet citizens are familiar with the “she only got that job ‘cause she’s a girl” argument, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to delete “YOU WANNA SEE MY RESUME, HOMIE?  DO YOU?” from a social media feed before my ire gets the best of me and I press “send.”  Instead, I try to continue to produce a body of work that will “speak” loudly enough to change that perception.

  • Will Partin

    I recall a very mixed community reaction to the “pin-up” style photos you did for a SteelSeries promotion during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How would you respond to criticism that you were reinforcing deeply held stereotypes about women in gaming?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    I find it very distressing how easily expressions of femininity are interpreted as inappropriate.  We must be very careful to recognize that simply being attractively feminine does not preclude an eSports community member’s ability to contribute. As for the photos in question, I have some skill in modeling, and I like to use that skill when it can be of use to promote eSports organizations.

    It’s a little ironic that some people seemed to be offended by me wearing a full-length black body suit and posing with a headset, but not at all by the video I produced featuring men talking about how much they loved boobs. However, as far as I was able, I evaluated the comments I received, filed their worthy insights away for my growth, and took the time to re-evaluate the project. Ultimately, I deemed it worthy to stand for itself, and I hope it may have been an instrument of positivity in the end.

  • Will Partin

    What about the furor over your and Rachel Quirico’s wardrobes at IPL3? Same idea?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    At that event, which took place in Las Vegas, she and I wore mainly cocktail dresses. Because of this, we were accused of inappropriately “stealing attention from the players.” I was told that dressing in a suit (read: more like a man) would have been a more appropriate choice. While I personally don’t mind suits, I was baffled as to why no one bothered to recognize that the female equivalent of the male host’s semi-formal dress code is, by tradition, a cocktail dress (nevermind that Rachel and I were not in charge of our wardrobe -- we wore what the event designers requested).

  • Will Partin

    Obviously, gender normativity is deeply embedded in the structure of gaming culture. How do you see women making more space for themselves?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    Knowing that the vast majority of children, both male and female, now play video games, I’m optimistic that those who will soon grow into our industry will arrive without the harmful preconceived notions that led to women’s ostracisation from the gaming world. I know that the natural progression of attitudes will thus improve this community for women in years to come.

  • Will Partin

    Will that happen naturally over time as more and more women become interested in eSports, or do you think women in eSports need to actively advocate for their place in the community?

  • Anna Prosser Robinson

    I think it’s important for women currently in this space to proactively and mindfully do what we can to insist on a future where people of all genders can participate in geek and gamer culture without fear of prejudice or mistreatment, enjoying acceptance and opportunity. For me, that means doing what I can to promote, encourage, and even educate existing female role models in gaming.



  • Will Partin

    Well said. Thank you so much for your time and your answers, Anna! 

About the Author: Will Partin

Will Partin is a UNC Chapel Hill PhD student by day and highly mediocre online gamer by night. He joined the webstaff in 2012 as a StarCraft II and Dota 2 writer. In addition to interviews, recaps and previews, Will enjoys writing long form journalism on topics as diverse as the semi-pro scene and the history of Evil Geniuses. He frequently tweets about beer and its effects, and remains committed to life, liberty, and the 3gate Proxy Void Ray All-In.

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