Article banner

Voices Of AOE: Greg Ibanez

With video games still rising in popularity over the years, almost everyone has had dreams of becoming a professional gamer at some point. Very few people can cross that threshold, but Greg Ibanez, AOE Creative’s Business Development Manager, turned the dreams of many into reality. While attending the University of Texas at Dallas, Ibanez found himself playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) semi-professionally. While his time as a player did not last long, he learned a lot of valuable skills that cross over into his work today.

“When I had gotten to that level, I was already fairly “old” to break into the scene, and I was dealing with a lot of [teammates] who were significantly younger than me, averaging from 16-18 years old, and I was getting close to 22 at that point,” Ibanez recalls with a laugh. “It’s a much different mindset going into playing than managing. [As a manager], you are no longer the tool that’s getting the job done; you’re ensuring that [the job] happens. You have to know who does what the best and who excels at their position versus purely understanding yourself.”

Generally in team-based professional gaming, one player on a team is designated as the ‘in-game leader’ (IGL), who carries the responsibility of understanding all team members’  individual skill sets and abilities and fitting those strengths to the needs of the team. As the IGL for his team, Ibanez now uses the same skillset as a project manager to understand the strengths of AOE and how they match to the needs of its clients. You have to be able to see the big picture from every angle, and that can be quite a lot to keep up with. However, no matter the situation, Ibanez keeps a cool head and can quickly analyze potential outcomes and opportunities.

These skills come from his time as a player and other ventures Ibanez has worked on. After playing professionally, Ibanez started writing for PvP Live, a video game journalism site, where he happened to meet AOE Co-Founders, Markel Lee and Nabil Pervez. After “cooking” there for a while, Lee and Pervez eventually moved on to work at OpTic, while Ibanez stayed at PvP Live until the website closed down. From there, he moved on to a different industry entirely - programming Tax, Finance, and PRA tools for Chevron’s enterprise system as a consulting developer -  until COVID hit. During that time, Ibanez was offered a position at the fairly fresh-on-the-scene AOE Creative. Starting off working on Call of Duty League socials, Ibanez quickly moved on to project management, keeping a discerning eye on multiple projects.

Ibanez has worked on many projects, but two stand out as the ones he is most proud of working on: A-KON and Boston Breach. “The branding that we did, the characters, the overall storytelling of [A-KON], in my mind, was definitely well created. The event was sold out, or close to, and definitely had, in my opinion, the best look and feel it’s ever had.” As for the Breach, Ibanez deems it a successful fire drill. “We spedrun that project,” Ibanez remembers the hectic month and a half the team was given, “all the pieces had to slot in together to make [the brand] successful in a short time frame: creating the brand, designing it, creating the voice and tone. We just finished a refresh for their second season in the league, [and] it turned out to be one of the strongest brands in the Call of Duty League overall.”

Generally, a strong brand depends on the industry, but for Ibanez, it boils down to how well that brand reaches its audience, most importantly, consumers. “There are some brands that have massive followings but don’t have a lot of recurring consumers,” He muses. “What I believe is a successful brand is a company that actually achieves [its] mission statement: what were they trying to solve beforehand, and were they able to capture the audience they were trying to help?” If a brand manages to answer the last question, they are successful in his eyes. Ibanez places a lot of emphasis on reliability and dependability on success in most areas of his life.

“[When I was younger], I didn’t really care about school, and [once] my dad was lecturing me - he phrased it in a way that I should be taking responsibility and caring more because my name is on it, and the kind of impression that it gives about who I am. If I’m not taking care of, you know, every little detail and making sure it’s something I would be proud of. That’s stuck with me.”

With this in mind, Ibanez takes great pride in everything he does, from his work to how he dresses to the people he surrounds himself with. “I heard this saying: you are the culmination of your five closest friends. I thought about it, and there are points in which that’s true. Obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, but for the most part, my inspiration comes from the people that I’m closest to. The things they care about, how they think all [changes] my baseline. I find inspiration in the normal things they do that might not seem special to them but are special to me.”

From watching his dad take care of his family to watching the management team go the extra mile for the people who work at AOE Creative, Ibanez draws much inspiration from how others treat people and incorporates it into how he can pay it forward. “I believe in AOE,” Ibanez says, a hint of a grin in his voice, “The people that work here are genuinely pretty great human beings… I won’t ever say that out in the pit, though.”

Don’t worry, Greg, your secret is safe with everyone reading this!

Featured News