Esports at the collegiate level is developing significantly across the UK, with more universities starting up societies to get more people involved.
We recently spoke to Kat Emery, Vice President of Warwick Esports, about her journey and experiences so far within the industry.
Kat is most well known for her participation with the University of Warwick’s esports society, but also balances studies on top of these commitments. She is currently in her second year of studying Politics, International Studies and Global Sustainable Development, as well as being an Esports Centre Assistant at the on-campus site.
From her work in the university scene, Kat has been recognised as part of the Intel FutureGen programme – highlighting potential future leaders in the esports industry.
Esports is something that Kat has become more actively involved with for the last few years, and has flourished with the help of her university’s esports society.
She said: “I started playing Rainbow Six: Siege when I was about 16, but I didn’t realise it was actually an esport until I came to university and realised how big the esports ecosystem is!
I joined university in the height of COVID-19 when everything was in lockdown, so there wasn’t much to do! Luckily, the one thing I could do was keep gaming – so I joined the esports society and the rest is history.”
Starting out, Kat was able to compete in a variety of collegiate tournaments with the society during the first semester of university, but a sudden spark pushed her to take that step further when the time called for it.
“When elections for the Executive team (the students who run the society) came around, I decided to just go for it! From there, we’re lucky that the University of Warwick is incredibly supportive of student esports, so they helped me to delve further into and understand the esports industry,” she added.
Now, her role as Vice President allows her to explore more about the esports industry, whilst developing a variety of crucial skills.
What does it take to run an esports society?
Running an esports society at university can seem quite daunting, but for Kat, getting stuck in helped ease her into the role.
“Being Vice President involves running the daily operations of the society, as well as helping our student staff team whenever required. I also run all the Warwick Esports social media pages,” Kat says.
So how do you actually run an esports society? Well, Kat’s initiative and communication with the university community has helped her to be successful in her role.
Her biggest piece of advice is: “to talk to your Students Union as they’re a great way to get the word out about new societies. Also have a look at the current societies available to you and consider where there might already be a lot of gamers. Lastly, make sure you’re providing something regular and fun for players to be doing, things like community nights or university tournaments (like NUEL/NSE).”
Expanding skill sets:
Taking up every opportunity to develop your skills in a variety of areas is really important, and Kat has been able to utilise this within her role as Vice President, and her newer position within Esports Centre @ Warwick.
She says: “My favourite part of both roles is definitely being able to interact with gamers in the local community. I love meeting and talking to people, especially those who share my interests! Being able to be around so many other gamers is really special and something I’m incredibly grateful for!”
As part of her work within her university, she has been able to dabble in a variety of different areas – and works prominently in social media.
“Social Media is such a fun role, but it can be a lot of work! My number one piece of advice is that you have to genuinely love being on social media – it’s so much more than logging on twice a day to post and then ignoring it the rest of the time.
Being a good Social Media Manager requires you to be up to date with the latest news, trends & memes – as well as replying to your comments when you can – which means enjoying just scrolling through Twitter for ages!
It’s the best job in the world if you enjoy it, but enjoying social media is something you cannot fake or force yourself to do.”
Committing yourself to learning within a role can be incredibly beneficial, and has proven very useful for Kat and her career development in esports.
Female representation in esports:
As the esports industry has developed, more women have been able to obtain prominent positions and showcase their talent more than they used to.
However, toxicity is still incredibly prevalent across the entire industry – but Kat has found ways to push through these experiences.
She said: “Unfortunately toxicity is a very real issue but there are people out there who can help you. I myself run a community called The Pack, which is a group designed specifically to help women & non binary gamers find others to queue with. If you do run into toxicity online just please please don’t let it stop you from playing – you have the same rights to enjoy video games as the trolls do (more, even!).”
In the collegiate scene, more women have been able to compete across a variety of titles, but this should not stop here.
“The issue isn’t with ratios or numbers of female gamers, there’s plenty of them! The issue is with giving females the confidence to feel they are able to participate in esports the same as everyone else.
Last year we had 2 women across all of our teams, now we have over 20,” Kat adds.
Getting female players involved in esports is just the beginning, as there are several roles throughout the entire industry that can be filled by anyone – regardless of their gender.
In an ideal world, Kat said she would like to see the industry have “more women in those “behind-the-scenes” roles, like observing, tournament organising, project management, partnerships, etc.”
She adds: “Too often we see women just being put in “front facing” roles (and don’t get me wrong, they’re great at it) but I’d love to see more women everywhere in the industry, not just on the screen.”
You can see the work that Kat has been doing with the University of Warwick’s esports society over on their social media.
Do you know someone who has made a positive impact in the industry? Let us know on Twitter and we may feature them next!