Back in 2019, Intel, ESL and National Student Esports (NSE) teamed up to create the Intel FutureGen education programme – a scheme designed to identify and nurture the best esports talent at UK universities.
Ten students were picked, and their degrees have been complemented with additional skills, access to industry experts and greater knowledge about their career paths in the esports and gaming industries.
Intel FutureGen launched at NSE’s London offices, but the COVID-19 outbreak had other ideas about in-person participation – so the programme continued online.
The Intel FutureGen Cohort
The most important participants in the Intel FutureGen programme are the students – and some of the people involved in the programme explained their ambitions and what they’ve gained by taking part in the programme.
Julia Cwierz is studying legal practice at BPP University, and her involvement with Intel FutureGen has inspired her to pursue esports law – not least because the industry is so new that it’s not currently governed by much specialist law.
The development of the industry didn’t just intrigue Cwierz - Aaron Koshy, from the University of Leeds, has also used Intel FutureGen to find new opportunities. A keen esports fan who has played for his university teams, Koshy is a researcher and has used Intel FutureGen to connect with people who share his passion for combining health research with esports.
William Rice, from the University of Exeter, is a data analyst and gamer – and he’s found Intel FutureGen inspiring because he’s been able to see the huge diversity of roles in the industry.
Swansea University’s Tom Bagot has followed a similar path. He began organising tournaments at university, and he’s found Intel FutureGen useful for networking with people who he wouldn’t usually be able to meet.
Jack Fenton, from the University of Warwick, is also involved in student esports – he started playing and now coaches. He explained that the law and accounting side of the esports industry have particularly appealed.
Indeed, all of these Intel FutureGen participants were surprised and inspired to discover the huge variety of disciplines available in the industry. They all spoke about the qualities they consider important for leadership, too, with passion, empowerment, delegation and listening to all popular choices.
Intel FutureGen’s online sessions formed a key part of the programme – six weeks of informative talks from esports industry leaders followed by question-and-answer sessions.
The sessions kicked off with Jon Tilbury – the Managing Director of NSE. He talked about his journey in esports, from Multiplay to NSE, and he went into detail about psychological techniques that are beneficial in the workplace.
Session two saw Grant Rousseau, EXCEL Esports’ Head of Operations, detail how a concrete ethos across an organisation can help everyone achieve goals, and used case studies to demonstrate how data can deliver results.
Freelance host and streamer Frankie Ward joined us for session three, where she explained her career path, how to handle criticism, her data-driven approach and the benefits of networking and preparation.
In session four, Will Lowther addresses the cohort. The Head of Business Development at Splash Damage, he delved into the hard-nosed business issues that he encountered, and explored how legal and management knowledge can be vital in esports – alongside the importance of communication.
ESL UK’s CEO, James Dean, joined Intel FutureGen for session five, and he talked about the overarching strategies that have helped grow esports in the UK. Dean also explained the key stakeholders in the UK’s esports scene – and how publishers, teams, sponsors and other organisations can work together.
The last session saw Charlie Allen, ESL’s Director of Global Partnerships, explore how esports teams can learn lessons from real-world sports organisations, and how important partnerships with unexpected stakeholders can help esports grow.
These sessions included questions from the audience, too, and they covered a huge range of topics across the six weeks – from how to educate new stakeholders and mainstream media coverage to issues with the UK scene and people’s toughest workplace challenges.
X-HEAD: Judgement Day
The Intel FutureGen programme also included contributions from the diverse group of industry leaders who originally picked the ten participants. These videos introduced the judges, explored their career paths and divulged their best tips for creating a career in esports.
Helena Watson is a senior publishing manager from Riot Games. She detailed the potential problems of being a woman in esports, and explained that she is proud to help create safe spaces for women.
Tom Donegan, from Special Effect, also noted that it’s vital to trust the people around you, and enthused about bringing a sense of positivity and care to his work – and his team.
Michael Ellis is a coach for Renault Sport’s Vitality Rocket League team, and he spoke about the passion and excitement involved in the esports industry – but acknowledged the challenges, too.
Yinsu Collins is a freelance esports journalist and spoke about the vital role of the media in getting key esports stories out to wider audiences, and Mark Bloom is a marketing manager from Intel – he advocated constant learning and improvement, and also recommends work placements while you’re at uni.
Jon Tilbury was on the judging panel, and spoke about the value of communication in esports, especially with people who may not be familiar with the industry. Grant Rousseau from EXCEL Esports also returned, and said that it’s vital for leaders to take responsibility, make sacrifices and work hard.
Looking to the Future
The Intel FutureGen programme has given ten of the most exciting esports talents the chance to connect with industry leaders, gain knowledge and take steps towards fully realising their potential – and the esports world will only improve because of it.
If you’d like to go back and watch any of our online sessions, head to our Twitch channel.