Pandamonium, Futures First Gaming’s flagship two-day event, will finish off another year of esports in the First State on Dec. 11 and 12 — venue to be announced — and it promises to be FFG’s biggest event yet.
Back in 2020, the inaugural Pandamonium was planned as an in-person event at Theatre N in downtown Wilmington before the second wave of COVID-19 forced the event online. Still, it was a quality event with streaming tournaments and three great panels on esports as a profession, workforce building and curbing teen violence, all of which are still worth watching on YouTube.
Hot 97’s Gerard Williams (aka HipHopGamer) and professional cosplayer Dale Harvey were panelists for last year’s “Esports as a Profession” panel, and will return this year for the virtual panel “Why Only 2%? Constructed Barriers on the Path to Pro,” joined by Southern University and A&M College Head Esports Coach Christopher Turner, who was a panelist for last year’s “Esports & Education to Build a Workforce,” as well as “From Da’ Games to Degrees” at this year’s Fall Brawl.
The panel will tackle the question of why, when 83% of Black and Brown youth identify as gamers, only 2% ever make it to the professional circuit.
“We’re ripping the band-aid off,” FFG cofounder Stephen Sye told Technical.ly. “We’re bringing them back to really elevate the conversation.”
The other scheduled panel, “Esports, Ecosystems and Economics” will look at the economic impact of esports and how it can help to revitalize communities.
Both panels will be held virtually, to allow for maximum accessibility.
In person, the COVID-conscious event will include a vendor show floor, and a new feature: Hands-on technology workshops, including “Cosplay, 3D Design and AutoCAD,” “Exploring the benefits of VR Gaming” and “Gamers or Drone Pilots?” which will explore another industry where gamers can excel.
“And then there will be three special events,” Sye said, teasing more new event features. There will be a networking afterparty at the WIN Factory, The High School Esports Rocket League Invitational. Another event is the “Battle of the Titans Mario Kart Challenge,” where Delaware leaders including Gov. John Carney, U.S. Sen. Christopher Coons, Ben du Pont and Kenny Family Supermarkets CEO Christopher L. Kenny are invited to compete for the title of Pandamonium 2021 Mario Kart Champion.
And, of course, gaming tournaments will be center stage, with NBA2K22 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Saturday and Fortnite and Tekken 7 on Sunday. Registration for the tournaments will open closer to the event date.
Some of the people who will be working behind the scenes at Pandamonium 2021 will include seven high school students who are part of FFG’s Delaware State Department of Health and Social Services workforce development cohort kicking off in November.
“It’s a six-month process where they’ll be learning coding, gaming design and esports entrepreneurship,” said Sye. “And as part of that, they’ll be given FFG real world projects and initiatives, and they will get paid through that, so that will be very helpful for Pandamonium. And then we’ll be able to have even greater reach across social media by leveraging their followings.”
Many of the students in the cohort go to William Penn High School in New Castle on the computer science Pathways track.
“Our goal is to start a club in esports clubs with William Penn and other schools,” Sye said. Currently, FFG has an after-school program at Friere Charter School in downtown Wilmington, and is looking to expand.
“During one of the kid’s interviews, he was like, ‘Yo, this is the coolest thing that I’ve ever been a part of.’ He was like,’I can’t believe that we have something like this in Delaware’ and ‘I’m really excited to be able to do something that I truly love and possibly make a career.'”
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