Online gaming became a lifeline during the pandemic, bringing communities together for birthdays, watch parties and get-togethers. In fact, esports saw a boom in viewership and participation, and many traditional sporting groups like NASCAR and the NBA partnered with their game simulation equivalents to finish out the competitive season.
As always, there is a silver lining to a difficult time. Gaming showed the many ways that communities can learn, help one another and even fight the loneliness that impacted people worldwide. The sudden surge in gamers shone a light on the potential for gaming/esports as a viable career path.
Despite there being millions of gamers and esports enthusiasts worldwide, the industry itself has long been criticized for its lack of diversity. At the same time, universities are laying the groundwork and training the next generation of professionals in gaming/esports — offering scholarships and esports-focused degrees to help transition students into the workplace.
It’s no wonder, then, that both educational and gaming institutions seek to increase participation across a spectrum of ethnic and gender spectrums.
Gaming/Esports bringing Collegiate Students Together
There are 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States, each open to students of all ethnicities. Like many educational institutions, these universities are teaching the skills necessary to succeed in the gaming and esports industries, whether that be as a member of a collegiate team that hopes to go pro, a creative professional that can make games, or any number of business skills from management to broadcasting.
We sat down with Jakolby Brown, Gaming and Esports Member Manager at Black Collegiate Gaming Association, to learn more about how the program helps individuals from all walks of life.
NAECAD: What is the Black Collegiate Gaming Association (BCGA)?
Jakolby Brown: The BCGA is an organization that is focused on historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs), pivoting those students into the esports industry. That could include gaming or a career because we understand that there are a lot more blooming careers within both esports/ gaming, & HBCUs that are behind the scenes.
NAECAD: What are some of the projects and initiatives the BCGA is currently working on?
Jakolby Brown: In November, we will have Military Play. That’s for active military and veterans to help them through the anxiety, depression, & PTSD of being a war veteran through gaming. That initiative brings organizations together to give veterans and military a positive outlet and help prevent suicide. We are working on getting a collaboration with Wounded Warriors, USO and other organizations that provide military vets.
NAECAD: Can you tell us more about the BCGA Success Scholarship and how its impacting college students?
Jakolby Brown: The BCGA Success Scholarship is for students who are on the last leg of credit hours. It helps to boost them up to make sure they complete their education. The program is for gamers or non-gamers but based on their major, they can qualify for the scholarship. For example, a graphic designer is eligible. The scholarship is open to both HBCUs and other institutions as well.