Atlanta-based entrepreneur Keshia Walker has become the first Black woman to own a collegiate esports and gaming company.
Walker, who has spent twenty years running a celebrity events and experiential marketing firm, has now founded the Black Collegiate Gaming Association (BCGA) in an effort to introduce Black college students to the gaming/esports industry. The company will partner with leading HBCUs to provide education and access to the growing gaming industry.
According to BCGA, the company’s programming will include virtual and on-campus curriculums; intercollegiate gaming competitions; internships and post-graduation job opportunities; teambuilding and leadership training; professional development and networking events; scholarships and mentorships; and on-campus esports and gaming labs.
Walker has signed on 16 HBCUs as charter members, including Jackson State University, North Carolina A&T, Texas Southern University and her alma mater, Florida A&M University. In addition, Intel, GameStop, Nacon Gaming, and Hitmarker have committed as corporate partners. Walker says she strives to diversify both the gaming industry as well as competitions. Schools are also encouraged to organize their own esports teams and compete in tournaments for scholarships and cash prizes.
“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,” Walker said.
“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,” she added.
Next month, BCGA will launch Military Play, an online three-day esports and gaming virtual tournament in which players will compete in Madden 21, Rocket League and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The event, which will take place on Veterans Day weekend, honors those who have served in the military. Tournament winners will be rewarded with cash and prizes. The company will also host the first-ever multi-city Black College Con and Women Got Game summits next spring.
Black College Con is set to take place in Atlanta during HBCU conference tournaments in February and March, while Women Got Game will be held in March during Women’s History Month. Both conferences will address issues related to men and women of color in the gaming industry and esports competitions. They will also serve as a networking opportunity for men and women of color with industry leaders who will be on hand to offer advice, mentoring, education, internships and career opportunities in gaming and esports.