One possibly unexpected outcome of the COVID crisis has been the opportunity for our community to carry out the positive effects of esports. At Esports BAR, we’ve been discussing this encouraging trend with VY Esports. Here we share our observations.
Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen a surge of virtual events poised around philanthropy, something explored in these Esports Observer and Causeartist articles. Gamers and the wider esports audience are tuning in and looking to these events, and the community at large, to provide direction on how to fight toxicity. We may finally be addressing esports’ role in positive change.
Even before COVID hit, we saw shining examples of the esports industry achieving real positive impact with far-reaching benefit, via initiatives such as Riot Games Social Impact Fund, launched in October 2019 as part of the 10th-anniversary celebrations for League of Legends. The campaign has been reported to have raised more than $10m so far, supporting over 50 non-profit organisations in 15 countries.
But esports and its audience’s roles in contributing to the potentially huge positive effects of esports as a whole can’t be limited to fundraisers; it goes way beyond that. The gaming community needs to begin creating content that acts as a positive bastion for gamers rooted in the universal heart of play. The esports audience needs to be involved in the potential for positive impact by the industry being brave and addressing the most salient issues, some of which have a particular resonance and impact on those who inhabit the gaming and esports world. What we mean by this is that taboo topics like mental health, gender inequality, and bullying, are at the forefront of the mind for Gen Z and they are utilizing community outlets to navigate them. Gen Z don’t shy away from discussing these topics but are getting tired of institutions that are. This is where the esports role and responsibility to drive positive change kicks in.
As opposed to just providing commercial offerings, endemic and non-endemic brands are beginning to find ways to engage with the gaming and esports audience around real and impactful subjects. VY’s last event, Edge LA, in July, featured a gaming-focused doctor who not only specialises in physical but also the mental health of the growing esports audience. Panels also discussed the nature of perseverance on becoming a pro, especially if you come from a part of the world that is not known for sports. A nurturing and open-minded approach to preparing the next generation of our industry is essential if we want the esports community, industry and audience to evolve.
When considering esports’ role in implementing positive effects and impact on its audience, the empowering of the next generation with inspirational and informational content and providing a pathway for success with colleges is key. We’re not the only ones flying the flag for education in esports. The topic will also be touched on in the upcoming keynote from Anita Elberse, Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, at the Esports BAR+ Americas digital event, 22-25 September.
At VY Esports, considerable strides are being made towards authentic positive impact, as Alex Tarrand, Chief Product Officer, explains,
“We are coalescing gamers, brands, and charities around positivity, top-of-mind issues, and culturally relevant content. We take our role and the wider esports role in effecting positive impact very seriously. By celebrating gamers and gaming through the lens of positivity and togetherness by building community-focused events, we’re inspiring hearts and minds through content and influencer partnerships, tapping into top talent across the entertainment landscape. The tangible side of esports positive impact is building a better gamer by raising awareness for top-of-mind issues with charities and nonprofits.”
The positive effects of esports and the role the esports community plays in realizing a genuine positive impact will be addressed further in the Society strand of the Esports BAR blog, where we explore various key social themes, from education to fair play, inclusion, gender equality, health and environmental responsibility.