We sit down with Wing Commander Dan Penter, Chairman and Founder of the Royal Air Force Video Gaming & Esports Association to find out about its gaming room, playing against the Army’s Overwatch team at Insomnia Gaming Festival and how the RAF is getting involved with esports… 

You can read some of Dan’s quotes below – and check out the video interview to the right.

Dan said that the RAF’s esports association was set up after the RAF sent a small team to Insomnia62, and that ‘the response from players in the Air Force has been immense’.

“There’s an untapped need there,” Dan said. “It’s exploded in terms of size. It’s becoming a routine part of service life. The response to esports has been really positive, up and down the base of command.

“We hit 2% of the RAF in December 2019 and have more than 680 members now. Most bases have at least one member and some have upwards of 60 members on their teams now.

“We had 50 players at Insomnia65 as well as a small stand at the expo. We had a stage match against the army and ‘we annihilated them’, to quote the commentator on the day! But we played the Belong All Stars and the reverse happened there, so we still have work to do!”

The RAF opened a LAN gaming room in September 2019 at RAF Odiham, funded by the RAF Central Fund. It’s a 20-seat room with 12 PCs, 8 PS4s and Dan said it sees a ‘constant flow of people in and out, most nights of the week’.

 

“The response to esports has been really positive, up and down the base of command. And the response from players in the Air Force has been immense. We hit 2% of the RAF in December 2019 and have more than 680 members of our esports association now.”

 

The RAF has multiple teams, with more than 35 different games supported. They play everything from World of Warcraft to League of Legends, Clash Royale, Call of Duty, flight sims, Rocket League, Overwatch and more.

Dan also added that the RAF embraced esports because ‘it has a real community feel’.

“It helps train leadership, decision making, the ability to think well under pressure – these are all things that esports really helps,” he added.

In terms of what’s next for the RAF and esports in the future, Dan commented: “Seeing a multiplayer VR sport would be really interesting. And we have that technology, we have a lot of synthetic training. We’ve got a piece of equipment called Hado, it’s basically 3v3 VR dodgeball. We had a team who narrowly missed going to the world cup last year.

“We’re still in growth phase with a large uptake of players. By this time next year, I want each station to have a team and to raise our level of competition. I want top 4 at masters at Insomnia.

“Finally, I would like to give a good mention to the RAF Central Fund [for helping us with our esports activities].”