Esports and gaming lifestyle organization Ghost Gaming has partnered with Generation Esports (GenE), the founder of the High School Esports (HSEL) and Middle School Esports League (MSEL), to deliver esports to underprivileged Georgia schools and communities via the independent non-profit Georgia Scholastic Esports Foundation (GSEF).
Through this foundation, Georgia students will be served with national and state-level esports competitions powered by GenE as well as free academic curricula and competitions from GSEF. Atlanta-based Ghost Gaming will facilitate career development opportunities with affiliated professional esports players, coaches and content creators, and help encourage participation in GenE’s scholastic gaming tournaments statewide.
The first stop for the foundation is in Forsyth County and part of it is because Forsyth already has a grasp on Esports.
“We are starting in a place that already ‘gets it’, as they say. Ghost Gaming approaches scholastic esports in partnership with community centers, schools, and teachers,” Todd Harris, Partner at Ghost Gaming said. “Starting a program is actually a LOT more involved than simply installing computers and telling the kids – now go play. There is a proven approach for delivering esports competitions and a club structure that has positive student outcomes. Forsyth County has an amazing teacher and instructional designer there named PK Graff who has been doing work with esports and computer science with middle school teams and varsity teams. His job title is actually Gaming Guru! That’s a great place for us to start.”
This fall GSEF and MSEL will have a free invitational in the titles Rocket League and Chess and there is an intent to open free competition in these titles by the spring of 2022. Harris says that Ghost Gaming and Generation Esports are expecting to announce a school esports lab buildout in another county in Georgia within the next two months as they seek more underprivileged communities.
A GSEF partnership with Georgia Tech will support ongoing academic research to ensure the esports implementations are delivering positive results in academics, social-emotional learning and diversity in student participation.
The importance of reaching out to underserved communities is important for Ghost Gaming as the infrastructure that powers esports also powers the engagement in STEM skills, entrepreneurship and regional economic development.
“In Georgia we want these development and workforce development initiatives to be equitable and accessible,” Harris said. “COVID last year drove remote learning for many but also showcased the technology divide and gap for some communities. Without access to a computing device or broadband internet, learning stopped and we are working with partners to help bridge that technology gap.”
The games for the future outside of chess and Rocket League aren’t directly known yet but Nehemiah Odior, Director of Programs and Partnerships at GenE says that they will be “adding games that the students are interested in along with the full catalog of games offered through the High School esports league.”
The partnership now makes sense for Ghost Gaming as they look to set themselves up for the future in esports. Harris says that they’ve been impressed by the way the Hawks, Atlanta United, Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves’ work in the community on youth development.
“But traditional sports like football have had like 130 years to develop and learn and become more equitable and inclusive over time,” Harris said. “In esports, we are focussing on inclusivity and accessibility. From the outset, Ghost is proud to work with partners who share this vision – most importantly Generation Esports and the non-profit Georgia Scholastic Esports Foundation.”