Last month, Spacestation Gaming announced that they had a new co-owner in the company as Mari "AtomicMari" Takahashi joined on. She'll be working with the company to further the brand and tackle some new goals and initiatives as they expand themselves and continue to push their already successful endeavors. We got a chance to chat with Mari about her career for the past year or so, what drove her to getting involved with the esports team, and her plans for the future.
BC: Hey Mari, how have things been going for you this year?
MT: Hey hey, thanks for having me! Well, this year has been a rollercoaster of navigating that fine balance, like everyone else, of life, work, and mental health. With everything going on, every day's a reminder to be grateful.
Kinda touching base a little on where this began, back in 2020 you made a major career and life change when you left Smosh and moved to Las Vegas. What prompted you to want to leave LA and focus more on your own career?
I know I'm not alone when I say that 2020 put a lot of things into perspective. It made me reevaluate why I create and how I want to use my voice. Leaving Smosh pushed me way out of my comfort zone, but it made me aspire to make big impactful moves. As for physically moving, the pandemic shifted workflow dramatically and it made living in LA much less of a priority. I built out a home studio out here and will be beefing it up some more this coming year. I miss some aspects of LA, but Vegas is close enough to go back and forth—I'm loving the mountains and the drive is super chill!
Was the transition difficult to do or did it just feel natural once you made the call and put things in motion?
Standing on my own after a decade of being part of a collective was undeniably daunting. But my experience at Smosh proves that it's a launchpad for the big leagues. I hosted shows for Quibi, Netflix, Vox, and Paramount this past year—it's wild to think that posting YouTube videos from my bedroom all those years ago has led me here!
How has it been for you to refocus efforts on Twitch and creating YouTube content, both by yourself and with some of the old crew?
I started streaming regularly when we went into lockdown and I'm so thankful that I did because it gave me an outlet to stay connected with friends and to stay motivated with creating content. Most importantly, it allowed for a place to hold unvarnished candid conversations with the community—everything from Black Lives Matter, the rise of violence against Asians, mental health, and of course the pandemic, all while knowing that video games grant us the much-needed escape from time to time. As for creating content with the crew, I see it as simply capturing moments with lifelong friends—I foresee Lasercorn, Jovenshire, Sohinki and I playing D&D in an old folks' homes in the far future. Who knows, maybe we'll still film it then!
Prior to your latest venture, what prompted you to get more involved with esports?
I've gotten to really focus on and form my career thus far—it's been a lot of me, me, me to be honest. Being in this position with SSG is a way to keep the door open for so many more folks—pros, creators, community members alike—to be a part of an industry I love so dearly.
What specifically drew you toward Spacestation Gaming as an entity you'd want to work with?
I first encountered SSG at Smite World Championships in Atlanta back in the day and I've been keeping track ever since. Shaun [McBride] and I had been friends beforehand but seeing him at SWC with a team nonetheless surprised the heck out of me and it piqued my interest. I love SSG's culture and community they've cultivated over the years—they're disruptive, creative, fun-loving, and competitive. The vibe definitely comes from the top—I've admired and respected Shaun from day one and it's a dream to work with someone who's as tenacious about working as he is about having fun!
What were the conversations with Shaun like and how did you guys eventually reach a deal to become a co-owner?
It was at VidSummit almost two years ago that in a candid catch-up conversation with Shaun, I told him these thoughts: 1) I love the gaming industry and I want to make a bigger impact. 2) I want women to have a strong foothold in esports—I believe it's still in its infancy and we've got a real good chance at shaping its future. And 3) I have no clue where to start. That organic conversation kicked off the first of many and that's led us to today.
Now that you're a co-owner, what are some of the major things you want to tackle within the organization?
The topic around female representation, equality, and inclusivity within the industry are what kicked off conversations between Shaun and me in the first place, so I'm ecstatic to be aligned with and to work with SSG as we continue to lead the charge in impacting esports and gaming in a positive and meaningful way.
What else can we expect from you over the rest of the year and going into 2022?
There will definitely be a ton of SSG news in the pipeline—one to highlight: we're one of nine partnered orgs competing in the Halo Championship Series (HCS) for Halo Infinite so come root for us! As for personal projects, I'll be focusing on tentpole charity livestreams and will be filming a feature film due out in 2022!