Many professionals take a long, twisting path toward an eventual special-events career. Chris Hatala started Games Done Legit during a 7-year run as co-founder and co-director of an annual, international videogame competition. Experiencing firsthand the social, shared experience of videogaming across multiple generations, he formed a videogame events & parties company to make his dream of working in the events industry a reality.
Because of his work on the ISES Cleveland Communications Committee, Chris has been nominated to be a Director at Large for our group for 2014-2016!
What led you to sign up with ISES?
I worked as an event specialist at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in 2012-2013, and I learned so much about the industry and met so many amazing ISES Cleveland members through the experience. Nick Borelli of Rock The House, Maureen Patterson of Solus Lighting and Vince Inaggi, from L’Nique especially welcomed me at my first ISES Cleveland mixer.
They accepted my offer on the spot to help with the Communications Committee because of my background in journalism, and I was hooked!
What makes you or Games Done Legit special?
Videogames are ubiquitous in today’s culture, but I haven’t read about any U.S. company doing large and small events with off-site gaming (Replay Events in the U.K. has been a cool model for me to follow).
I’ve been involved in videogaming competitions and events since I was nine years old, so my goal was to take my hobby and experiences and combine it with professionalism I’ve learned from ISES Cleveland members to be successful and entertain others.
What’s your proudest moment as an events professional?
In 2011 we had a big enough staff that our annual event’s teardown only took a few hours, and upon arriving around 3 a.m. at the restaurant where all our event VIPs would visit after that final day of competition, the whole place burst in applause once they saw my staff and I walk in.
As event professionals know, running events is usually a pretty thankless job — as we focus on showing guests a good time and not on pats on the back — so any small form of gratitude from a guest goes a long way.
But this was the moment I realized my events could have a profound impact on other people, and even if we’re just entertaining them for a day or weekend, through a shared love of videogaming.
What’s the best industry advice you’ve ever received?
“Be generous,” from Nick Borelli.
If you weren’t in the special-events industry, what would you be doing?
I’d be working a boring 9-to-5 desk job I had no investment in, with no real accountability or way to make a true impact on others’ lives.