Diversity & Inclusion
Events / Gaming / Sports / workforce development

PHL Gaming expo wants to make Philly an inclusive hub for gaming

The inaugural event co-organized by JumpButton Studio last weekend featured panels and mini gameplay tournaments at Nerd Street Gamers' HQ.

A panel at PHL Gaming. (Courtesy photo)
Update: A video recap of the event has been added. (3/3/23, 4:50 p.m.)
Philly as gaming hub? As the national esports industry has long surpassed the billion-dollar mark and interest in gaming culture explodes, local enthusiasts want to get it there.

Gamers of all stripes gathered at Nerd Street Gamers’ North Broad Street HQ on Saturday to play new and familiar digital games at the inaugural PHL Gaming event. For those into a more traditional form of gaming, there were board game edition of this event held simultaneously at P4 Hub in Germantown.

JumpButton Studio, the University City-based software company that develops games and animations, hosted the event along with Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. The goal was to create a space for young people, gamers, entrepreneurs and developers to gather and talk about gaming in Philadelphia.

The event featured stations set up for people to play, mini competitions and musical performers, JumpButton Studio cofounder and CEO Nicodemus Madehdou told Technical.ly.

A person sitting at a computer playing a digital game.

PHL Gaming had games available for attendees to play. (Courtesy photo)

The free, public event also featured three panels throughout the day. The first was called “What is Gaming?” discussed the different forms of gaming from industry and consumer perspectives.

The second, “Gaming Possibilites,” focused on the future of gaming and esports, and how gaming intersects with other industries — “so helping audiences know, if you’re not already looking at this space, or if you’ve been negatively looking at this space, it’s in your best interest to now be more open minded, before the space kind of blows up and takes over,” Madehdou said.

The third panel was called “The Creator Economy” and focused on how influencers and streamers make money, and how others can become successful, too.

The event saw over 200 attendees, per Madehdou. He considers the turnout and positive feedback as confirmation that this type of event is something that people in Philadelphia want.

People sitting on a stage talking into a microphone.

One of the panels held at PHL Gaming. (Courtesy photo)

The organizing team is already planning to make PHL Gaming an annual event, although he said they hope to have both types of gaming — digital and tactical — at one location in the future so guests don’t need to travel if they want to experience both. He wants to see it become a staple event in Philadelphia, and ultimately help make the city a gaming hub in the United States.

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas and his office also supported PHL Gaming’s mission by helping JumpButton Studio plan the event, cohosting it, and being a sponsor. Madehdou said Thomas’ passion for providing accessibility to arts and opportunities to youth aligns with JumpButton’s mission to push diversity in the gaming industry.

(This mission reminds of Wilmington-based startup Futures First Gaming, which aims to get Black and brown youth excited about the gaming industry while putting Delaware on the map as an esports hub.)

A group of people sitting on a stage.

Nicodemus Madehdou (center, in white). (Courtesy photo)

Madehdou said there are a lot of small local game developers that don’t get a lot of kudos. But events like PHL Gaming draw attention to the industry and show young people that there is a gaming community in Philadelphia. They don’t need to leave the city to pursue that career.

PHL Gaming embodied JumpButton Studio’s mission of diversity as well, Madehdou said.

“So many different people came out, enjoyed themselves, playing games together without even knowing each other,” he said. The event “shows just how powerful and engaging gaming can be in breaking down barriers that otherwise would be very, very difficult for many people.”

Watch a recap video of the event here:

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: JumpButton Studio / Nerd Street Gamers
People: Nicodemus Madehdou

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