2017 has been a busy first full year for the British Esports Association.
After forming in summer 2016, the not-for-profit organisation set up to promote and support grassroots esports, went about asking the community for their views on UK esports and what we could work on.
After a period of consultation, British Esports outlined five key areas of focus which were later trimmed down to three key aims. Here’s a look at more than 20 things we’ve done so far, and what’s around the corner.
Advisory Board forms and website launches – December 2016
The British Esports Association named its advisory board members. The board regularly meet to discuss developments and areas of focus for the Association, and offer their input.
The advisory board for 2017 (led by British Esports chairman Andy Payne OBE) included Paul Chaloner, Michael O’Dell, Ryan Hart and more.
In addition, the Association also launched its website www.britishesports.org in December 2016. Acting as an information hub, it provides advice and support across the esports spectrum. There are articles on getting into esports and finding jobs, guidance for parents, info on events and much more advice.
Getting to work – January/February 2017
Following our first advisory board meeting in January, the Association got to work on developing its plans and initiatives.
Some of our initial goals and areas of focus included the following:
- To focus on aiding and working with amateur UK esports organisations as well as schools (esports clubs for children), players, tournament organisers, youth centres and perhaps libraries
- To look into ideas for courses and qualifications
- To work with the wider media to better educate them on esports
- Meeting with the Department for Media, Culture and Sport to discuss the esports ecosystem and what UK needs to reach the next level
- Exploring ideas around British Esports membership and member benefits
Outlines stance on whether esports is a sport – March 2017
“Esports is not a sport, but a credible activity in its own right,” the British Esports Association said.
Following reporting by the BBC – The State of Sport week – many listeners and readers debated whether esports is an actual sport or not.
Some have argued that esports should be classified as a sport partly because recognising it officially would grant it access to sports funding. However, esports is competitive video gaming: it is currently classified inthe UK as a game (like chess and bridge) and not a sport.
The British Esports Association is also keen to emphasise that when done in moderation, esports can have positive cognitive, social and communicative benefits.
The British Esports Association flew to Japan earlier this year to engage with the Japanese community and find out how esports is being driven in schools.
Founder Chester King visited the Hiroo junior high school in Tokyo, where the Japan eSports Association (JeSPA) held a special event.
British Esports also began establishing links with other national esports associations around the world.
Game advisers announced – April 2017
The British Esports Association began taking steps to get closer to the individual communities within each esports game. It brought on board one or two experts in each esport, mainly focused on the grassroots/British scene within each title.
The idea is for the advisers to provide input and expertise to make sure the association can support and understand each community effectively, and to keep us abreast of changes in the grassroots/wider scene across multiple games. This will help us with our future initiatives and ensure we’re considering the needs of the community.
Advisers included David Bytheway (FIFA, pictured), Michael Moriarty (CSGO), Liam Whitehead (Dota 2), Tom Trewren (Call of Duty), James Baker (Heroes of the Storm) and many more.
The British Esports Association’s first after-school kids’ esports club – held in conjunction with Westminster City Council and DinoPC – was a success.
The children’s after-school esports club pilot scheme was held at Maida Vale library, London. It was the UK’s first free esports training club supported by a local authority.
There were four weekly sessions, starting on June 20th and running to July 11th. Each free two-hour session was open to 10 children from local schools (aged 10 to 13) as well as their parents.
Participants were able to play some Rocket League matches against one another, as well as try out some casting and coaching.
Publishes revised mission statement – June 2017
Our three goals are to:
- Promote esports in the UK and increase its level of awareness
- Improve the standard of UK esports
- Inspire future talent
The British Esports Association found that esports can be a beneficial activity for children when played in moderation.
The Association partnered with Westminster City Council and DinoPC for a free two-hour after-school esports training club, running every Tuesday for a month at Maida Vale Library.
You can check out the full findings and PDF report here.
Heather “Naysayerz” Dower joins advisory board – September 2017
Heather “Naysayerz” Dower, presenter, caster and stage host, has joined the British Esports Association’s Advisory Board.
She is well-known in UK esports having worked with the likes of Ginx TV, Multiplay and others, hosting the likes of the Daily Download show, Insomnia esports tournaments and more. She replaces sports industry executive Sophie Goldschmidt on the board, who has relocated to the US.
An event titled ‘Esports in Europe: What policy response?’ took place in the European Parliament.
Attendees including esports industry professionals, MEPs and others discussed regulatory issues in esports and the different aspects of the industry from a European perspective.
The general consensus seemed to be that the esports industry should be allowed to self-regulate, and that outside laws and regulations may be unnecessary for the industry. But the idea of government regulating esports was discussed.
British Esports chair Andy Payne OBE was in attendance and gave a talk at the event.
Joins UK games industry trade body Ukie – October 2017
The British Esports Association joined UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) as a member.
Ukie is the trade body for the UK games industry; its members include publishers, developers and esports companies.
British Esports has been working with Ukie throughout this year and looking at ways in which the two organisations can collaborate. The pair have been working with educational establishments to help them understand the esports ecosystem and career paths, and also educating the media around what esports is and how it works.
Appoints Ed Vaizey as Vice Chair – October 2017
The British Esports Association appointed the Rt. Hon. Ed Vaizey MP as Vice Chair.
Ed worked as Culture Minister between 2010 and 2016, and is currently the Member of Parliament for Didcot and Wantage. He is a big advocate of the video games industry in Britain, having secured tax breaks for game development studios, and was recently recognised by GamesIndustry.Biz as one of the 100 most influential people in the British games industry.
Partners with scheme backed by the Prince’s Trust – October 2017
The British Esports Association entered into a partnership with the Enemy of Boredom Esports (EOB) Academy, a series of workshops for young people backed by the Prince’s Trust.
The EOB Esports Academy offers education programmes for 14-30 year olds, which are designed to help young people and unemployed people learn new skills, access new opportunities and find work. British Esports’ project lead Rob Allen helped coach League of Legends to participants at several sessions.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance is a sports industry body that provides advice and support to members and works with the Government and policy makers. Some of their members include the Football Association, British Cycling and the England Chess Federation to name a few.
The British Esports Association joined the Sport and Recreation Alliance as its first esports-focused member.
Produces esports info packs – November 2017
The world of esports is an exciting, growing space, but to those unfamiliar with competitive gaming, it can be confusing or difficult to understand.
To help educate the likes of parents, teachers, students, media, government and more, we produced our first few free-to-download PDF info packs all about esports. The first explains what esports is while the second is all about the British Esports Association.
Publishes first free weekly newsletter – November 2017
The British Esports Association has launched a weekly newsletter which is free for members.
Anyone can sign up to join the association, regardless of nationality or location, and receive the email newsletter.
It contains the latest updates from the British Esports Association each week, plus it aggregates the major goings on in the UK scene and the wider esports industry globally.
The British Esports Association, the not-for-profit organisation set up to promote and support grassroots esports, has put together a guide to help children get started in esports.
The Esports Age Guide breaks down major esports titles by age rating. It’s designed to inform parents, children and teachers which competitively-played video games are suitable for various age groups, from 3+ up to 18+.
As well as the age ratings guide, the British Esports Association has also published an infographic highlighting the benefits of esports, including cognitive benefits, promoting teamwork and boosting confidence.
Supports grassroots Dota 2 league – late 2017
The British Esports Association supported a grassroots UK Dota 2 league.
The league was a collaboration between the British Gaming League and FaceIT and saw around 500 players join the hub.
British Esports offered advice and info to various colleges and universities throughout the year, as they looked to add esports elements to their courses.
We engaged with the likes of Staffordshire University, which is introducing the first esports degree in the UK, and AIM, which is looking to put together an esports course pilot.
Opportunities for volunteers – throughout 2017
The British Esports Association began looking for enthusiastic volunteers who would like to help out with upcoming events and initiatives.
We had four volunteers help with the after-school pilot, as well as UK esports caster Ryan “Flakes” Oliver, and will have further opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the future.
To find out more or to apply, please email us at [email protected] with details of your background, age and what you’d like to do, and we can send you a form to fill in.
Other content – ongoing
The British Esports Association published more than 100 articles and a handful of videos over the past year, from advice to job roundups, news stories, player profiles, press releases and more.
The British Esports Association has received plenty of positive coverage throughout its first full year, from the likes of:
- Evening Standard
- Esports Insider
- Ginx TV
- The Telegraph
- The Guardian
- Esports Pro
- And many more
What else has British Esports got up to this year?
Here are 10 other highlighted events, talks and initiatives we got involved with in 2017:
- Chester King and Dominic Sacco were part of BAFTA’s judging panel for the 2017 AMD Esports Audience Award in February, who helped come up with the list of nominees.
- British Esports content director Dominic Sacco was interviewed by pupils from the Edinburgh Academy school about esports in February. They were producing a BBC School Report, a project which motivates 11 to 16 year olds to make and broadcast their own news.
- British Esports Association founder and CEO Chester King spoke about the size and growth of esports on BBC Radio 5 Live in March. Dom also spoke to the BBC World Service live on the radio about the new F1 Esports Series later in the year.
- In March, several legal experts and esports executives gathered at the University of Westminster to take part in a panel discussing law and esports. Titled ‘Demystifying esports: what are esports and what’s law got to do with it’, the discussion was organised in conjunction with media law firm Sheridans. The panel included British Esports advisory board members Josh Williams, Carleigh Morgan and Andrew Nixon.
- British Esports Association chair Andy Payne OBE and vice chair Rt. Hon. Ed Vaizey MP were listed in theGamesIndustry.biz top 100 list.
- The British Esports Association was present at the Escon Europe conference in London. Chair Andy Payne hosted a panel titled ‘The rise of women in esports’, while content director Dominic Sacco chaired a panel titled ‘Feeding grassroots esports as the industry progresses’. He was interviewed here.
- On May 9th and 10th, British Esports advisory board members Ceirnan Lowe (caster) and Chris Mead (Twitch EMEA partnerships director) spoke at The Telegraph Business of Sport event, which took place at the BT Centre in London.
- Chester and Dominic gave a talk to 100+ students at Westminster Academy about esports , as part of Westminster Enterprise Week. Dominic also gave a talk to AMOS Sport Business School in London.
- The British Esports Association’s content director Dominic Sacco is on board with Ukie’s Digital Schoolhouse Overwatch 3v3 esports tournament as a coach. He will be coaching Gildredge House school .
- The British Esports Association took AnyKey’s ‘GLHF’ (Good Luck Have Fun) pledge for inclusion and integrity in video games and esports.
What’s in store for 2018?
This year was busy for us, but there’s lot more on the horizon for 2018 and beyond. Some of our goals, working with a range of stakeholders, are to:
- Promote a thriving grassroots ecology for esports
- Foster the development of more UK-based professional players, teams and talent
- Secure robust funding to carry forward these priorities
- Inspire more females to try esports
- Improve the esports landscape in Britain
Specific plans for 2018
- Extend our pilot at Maida Vale Library and work with more libraries
- Create an esports schools league
- Develop our membership offering
- Support esports in education e.g. at college/university level
- Continue to showcase the benefits of esports and educate government and the media