“Viewership of Esports was already expected to eclipse that of traditional sports by 2022 – but now with COVID limiting audiences and introducing a lot of unknowns in terms of schedule, Esports has a huge advantage,” he said. “Esports is projected to be a $300 billion global industry by 2025. That’s huge. And, it comes with an enormous amount of opportunity and career pathways.”
Hoping to nurture the next generation’s desire to enter the Esports industry, Sye says the company held its inaugural Futures First Camp this past summer.
“Looking at the landscape, 83% of black teens game, but only about 9% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals are black.”
“It was a virtual summer camp this year, but it was 100 hours total,” said Sye. “Our Futures First Program focuses on Esports, coding, gaming, and entrepreneurship. Over four weeks, our team worked with students from 8th to 12th grade for five hours per day. Two hours were devoted to coding and game design – with the help of our partners Coderrific Academy and Code Differently. Then there’s one-hour for entrepreneurship where we cover things like starting a business, marketing, promoting, starting a website, Esport monetization and live streaming. Then the last two hours is basically gameplay. Gamers worked on communication, teamwork, strategy, and gaming skills development.”
There were 10 graduating students in the first class over the summer. Sye says it was a great proof of concept. The class’s final project was evidence of that.
“Over the last two weeks, the campers were tasked with a hands-on collaborative project to produce and host their own online Esports event,” he said. “They hosted a Brawlhalla tournament. They ended up having great participation and the event was flawless – it was an awesome learning experience.”
Futures First Gaming will be bringing the program back next summer and will shoot for an even larger class, but Sye hopes to push the program as a regular course in local high and middle schools to expose students to the available career paths.
“We’ll really be able to educate students on the possibilities if we can meet them where they are – we have commitment from two Delaware school districts pending funding and have had conversations about our program with Departments of Education in several states,” he said.
Although not an exclusive organization, a fundamental goal of Futures First Gaming is to help expose minority students to the prospect of a career in the gaming industry, notes Sye.
“Looking at the landscape, 83% of black teens game, but only about 9% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals are black,” said Sye. “We really want to change that. We feel that the discrepancy exists because of lack of awareness and opportunity. Our program works to correct this by reaching out to students through their interest in gaming, but teaching them about the business side in the process. That way they can imagine a future where they make a living doing what they love. In our concept of STEM, E stands for entrepreneurship.”
To support this goal, Futures First Gaming has started to reach out to HBCUs (Historically black colleges and universities) to assist them in launching their own competitive Esports teams. Sye is a strong believer that the opportunities in the Esports industry will continue to proliferate and offer opportunity to people of all kinds of backgrounds and interests.
“There really is a spiderweb of careers cropping up to support gaming,” he said. “For example, last year’s Fortnite world cup winner, a 16-year-old named Kyle Giersdorf, won $3 million. He’s a millionaire now. He’s going to need an Esports specific attorney. There are gaming company’s that want to create game characters with his likeness and image, so he needs to negotiate that. He’ll need an accountant. He’ll even need a personal trainer to work on stamina and hand-eye coordination. The web of opportunity keeps spreading. When students come to us, we can work on where their interests lie and steer them toward a great career opportunity.”