A Black woman is poised to change the gaming industry this week as the first to enter the male-dominated space of owning a collegiate esports and gaming company aimed to catapult Black college students beyond consumers and competitors into creators and career professionals.
After more than 20 years of running a successful celebrity events and experiential marketing firm, Atlanta-based entrepreneur Keshia Walker kicks off the Black Collegiate Gaming Association (BCGA) to introduce Black college students to the gaming/esports industry. The company will partner with leading historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to offer a 360-degree approach to learning about, and gaining access, to the burgeoning technology industry.
BCGA's programming incorporates: virtual and on-campus curriculums; inter-collegiate video gaming competitions; internships and post-graduation job opportunities; team-building and leadership training; professional development and networking events; scholarships and mentorships; and, on-campus esports and gaming labs. Participating schools can also build competitive esports teams to challenge each other in tournaments for scholarships, cash and other prizes.
Walker has already secured 16 HBCUs as charter members, including Jackson State University, North Carolina A&T, Texas Southern University and her own alma mater, Florida A&M University. In addition, Intel, GameStop, Nacon Gaming, and Hitmarker have all signed on as corporate partners. Walker says this is just the beginning of how she plans to leverage BCGA to diversify both the pro-competitive gaming and corporations in the industry.
"Gaming is a $159B industry and 73 percent (73%) of African Americans ages 13 years or older identify themselves as gamers. Yet, only 3 percent of those working in the gaming industry are Black and a mere 1 percent are professional gamers. Those numbers just don't add up," said Keshia Walker, founder and chairman, of BCGA.
"There is a huge opportunity to diversify the gaming industry to be more reflective of its customer base while exposing young people to promising career opportunities. BCGA is here to open doors and literally change the game of gaming."
BCGA will launch its programming next month with "Military Play," an online three-day esports and gaming virtual tournament. Players will compete in Madden 21, Rocket League and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The Veterans Day weekend competition will honor all those who serve and have served in the military. Winners will receive cash and prizes.
Further, BCGA will make history this spring by hosting the first ever multi-city "Black College Con" and "Women Got Game" summits. "Black College Con" is scheduled to kick off in Atlanta and take place during HBCU conference tournaments in February and March; while "Women Got Game" will take place in March during Women's History Month. Both innovative conferences will be centered around: dialogue relevant to Blacks and women of color in the gaming industry; esports competitions; and connecting Black and female college students of color with multicultural industry leaders for advice, mentoring, education, internships and career opportunities in gaming and esports.