Warwick - UK’s top esports university invests £275,000 in new esports centre and seeks backers to bring skills, tourists, and new opportunities to Coventry and Warwickshire
The University of Warwick has announced that is investing £275,000 of its own earned income into establishing a new flexible esports Centre to be located at the heart of Warwick campus. It will operate alongside new facilities to stimulate innovation in a newly refurbished basketball court as part of the newly named ‘Junction’ facility.
This announcement follows soon after the news, just last month, that the University of Warwick had retained its title as UK Esports University of the Year, winning the award for a third successive year. “Our first two wins were great on their own, but this third win really allows us to say that we're creating a legacy in university esports. A legacy of excellence and sportsmanship that future students will be inspired to surpass,” said Joshua ‘Phosphorescent’ Mankelow, the current President of Warwick Esports, the University of Warwick student esports society.
The new Centre builds on that success. It will not only provide a facility that can help in training and research into esports, it will also provide a medium sized esports competition venue. In fact, it will also be especially configured to enable the equipment to be easily and quickly relocated to a larger venue on campus or elsewhere for grander scale events.
The University’s investment of over a quarter of million pounds will provide all the initial physical infrastructure and equipment for the Centre making it the equal of any other such facility in the UK and the first at a Russell Group university. Within the US Collegiate scene, university investment is driven by varsity programs and aimed to attract player talent. In the UK, university esports investments have surrounded esports degree programmes. However, the University of Warwick are choosing to break away from this norm.
The focus of the facility will be on providing opportunities for the wider community, as well as for students and the esports society. This will include outreach programmes with local schools, community groups, and larger bodies such as Women in Games.
Clare Green, a Women in Games Ambassador and Creative & Digital Communities Manager at University of Warwick said:
“Unlike traditional sports, it is a level playing field. Whether you are neurodiverse, whether you are male, female, physically disabled, or able bodied and regardless of age, all people can play together. This is what is so exciting about the esports industry. There is a lot of work to do in terms of diversity and inclusion, but this Centre provides us with is a genuine opportunity for positive actions and change.”
To support their efforts in bringing esports to communities beyond the campus, the university is now seeking launch sponsors to support the Centre in providing bespoke coaching, training, and development activities that will be accessible to all. These development activities will work to support a wide range of esports careers, not just players. In order to provide a talent pipeline and remain connected to wider industry, all launch partners will sit on an advisory board to embed the facility in the wider esports infrastructure.
Jack ‘Coach’ Fenton, who is a consultant on the esports Centre project and a past President and co-founder of the University of Warwick Esports Society said:
“Considering the multi-disciplinary nature of esports, a vast range of external stakeholders have been identified that we are seeking to partner with. These represent external bodies that include corporate organisations, those committed to equality and diversity, national organisations that promote esports, regional & national skills councils, local schools, and charities. The University of Warwick Esports Society itself has already raised thousands of pounds for the charity Special Effect, which work to adapt gaming materials to suit people with disabilities. By working with these great foundations, we want to continue to foster relationships that help promote diversity and inclusion in esports."
“We look forward to working closely with many of these organisations but key to doing so will be raising financial support to enable us to offer tangible benefits around coaching, skills development, job opportunities and establishing a scholarship scheme focused on diversity and inclusion.”
Coventry, Warwickshire, and the West Midlands are already well aware of the potential economic benefits of this and related industries. Warwickshire’s Silicon Spa is an internationally recognised games cluster generating some of the best-known games titles and brands. The Centre will seek to work closely with regional and national partners including CWLEP, Create Central, and WMCA to lead on esports.
Yinsu Collins, a University of Warwick graduate and award winning Esports Journalist and host said:
“I wished I’d known at University that I could do the things within my career that I do today. There are so many opportunities to do different things within the esports industry; covering everything from playing to media, PR, graphic design, streaming through to writing, presenting, events, sales and marketing. The possibilities are endless. It’s narrow-minded to look at esports and just focus on games and players as there are so many well-paid jobs – it’s so much more than the games”