New Esports Centre at University of Warwick will be "great asset" to the region
"We are really excited to see this investment being made by the University of Warwick. The facility will be a great asset in the region and provide a really innovative approach to engage with young people about the opportunities and future careers that Esports can provide.
The University of Warwick has announced that it will invest £275,000 of its own earned income into establishing a new flexible esports centre to be located at the heart of Warwick campus.
This announcement follows the news that the university has retained its title as UK Esports University of the Year, winning the award for a third successive year.
The new centre will builds on that success. It will provide a facility that can help in training and research into esports and also provide a medium-sized esports competition venue, especially configured to enable the equipment to be easily relocated to a larger venue on campus or elsewhere for grander scale events.
The investment in the new centre has been warmly welcomed by Warwickshire County Council which works closely with the university to support students and businesses and help them attain the skills they need.
Warwickshire County Council digital creative lead Stacy O'Connor said: "We are really excited to see this investment being made by the University of Warwick. The facility will be a great asset in the region and provide a really innovative approach to engage with young people about the opportunities and future careers that Esports can provide.
"The growth of Esports has been phenomenal over recent years, and the careers involved aren't just about playing games. It provides a doorway to many creative careers such as event management, coaching, broadcasting as well as introducing careers in building the games themselves.
"We look forward to seeing this project get underway and working with the university and this emerging sector to benefit local businesses and young people."
The University’s investment will provide all the initial physical infrastructure and equipment for the new centre making it the equal of any other such facility in the UK and the first at a Russell Group university. However, the University wants the facility to achieve maximum benefit for both its campus and local community, so is also seeking sponsorship to provide the centre with bespoke coaching, training and development activities that will be accessible to the wider community.
Esports is a competitive team-play environment, watched by millions every day. A recent world esports final of League of Legends garnered 3.8 million concurrent viewers.
Clare Green, a Women in Games Ambassador and Creative & Digital Communities Manager at University of Warwick said: “The 2020/21 lockdowns saw several sectors like video games and esports expand, seize opportunities and boom amidst the crisis. More people turned to gaming and esports as an alternative to the gym and leisure activities that the pandemic forced to close.
"Video games allowed people to relax and escape from the daily stresses, managing anxiety levels. However, esports was already huge with large-scale national and international events. Esports was already one of the global screen industry’s most innovative and fast-growing areas, generating an estimated 1,214 FTEs of total employment and £111.5m in GVA for the UK economy in 2019.”
Warwickshire’s Silicon Spa is already an internationally recognised games cluster generating some of the best-known games titles and brands. The centre will seek to work closely with regional and national partners including CWLEP, Create Central, and the West Midlands Combined Authority to lead on esports.
Jack Fenton, a consultant on the esports centre project and a past president and co-founder of the University of Warwick Esports Society said: “Considering the multi-disciplinary nature of esports, a vast range of external stakeholders have been identified that we are seeking to partner with. These represent external bodies that include corporate organisations, those committed to equality and diversity, national organisations that promote esports, regional & national skills councils, local schools and charities.
"The University of Warwick Esports Society itself has already raised thousands of pounds for the charity Special Effect, which work to adapt gaming materials to suit people with disabilities. Using these great foundations, we want to continue to foster relationships that help promote diversity and inclusion in esports.
“We look forward to working closely with many of these organisations but key to doing so will be raising financial support to enable us to offer tangible benefits around coaching, skills development, job opportunities and establishing a scholarship scheme focused on diversity and inclusion.”