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A new gaming partnership aims to make Delaware a hub of the industry

Plus, a rundown of big Delaware tech news from the week.

Pandamonium 2021 at Theatre N. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as a newsletter alongside a roundup of’s best Delaware reporting from the week, job openings and more. Subscribe here to get updates on Delaware tech, business and innovation news in your inbox on Thursdays.

Delaware’s first esports tournament startup and the university that offered the state’s first four-year game development degree have teamed up to help the region become a center of the ever-growing gaming industry.

Futures First Gaming (FFG) came onto the scene in 2020, launching as both an esports company that holds quarterly tournaments and a STEM education company with a focus on developing youth, especially kids from under-resourced neighborhoods, into professional game devs, designers, esports coaches and esports athletes (just to name a few jobs in the space). So what better partner than Wilmington University, with a Game Design & Development program that offers a BS and an opportunity to earn a master’s degree on top?

Scott Shaw, chair of the GD&D program at WilmU, says the two entities worked together from the early days of FFG. But after COVID disrupted their paths a bit, he reconnected with FFG CEO Stephen Sye via Leadership Delaware, leading to a team up and big plans for the future of esports in the region.

“Their approach fits in line with the vision that I’ve always wanted to see in Delaware, with building a game industry and leveraging all the amenities of the East Coast,” Shaw told “Game development, game companies, esports, all of the things that revolve around that — FFG has got it lined up to take advantage of that and I think that’s the really exciting part. The other exciting part is that they want to target and provide a runway for middle and high school students to take off in their career.”

They’re working together to establish programs for kids interested in the creative side of the industry — the designers and devs — that start young and accessible, with a focus on creating school programs, skills-based certificates, entrepreneurial coaching and university credits for high school students.

“Partnering with WilmU ensures that every gamer that wants to pursue esports as a career path has the option to do so right here in Delaware,” Sye said. “FFG can provide the entry point through our events and educational programming. We are literally building the ecosystem from the ground up, and with a number of schools in the area investing in the development of esports clubs and teams, the scholastic competitive scene is on the rise. We are putting Delaware in position to host major esports competitions and attract visitors from all over.”

The economic potential is huge, Sye said, as the global industry is approaching $200 billion annually, with 3 billion people globally identifying as gamers.

“It’s Delaware’s time to rise up and become a hub for esports industry talent,” he said.

We’ll keep following the esports industry in Delaware. Are you one of the 3 billion people who considers themself a gamer? Do you participate in esports tournaments, or do you prefer to play at home? We’d love to hear from local gamers, whether you play competitively, develop games or prefer to watch games as a spectator as part of our continuing coverage. Email me at or hit me up on twitter at @harlequinn823.

P.S. Futures First Gaming’s next tournament will be Girls Who Game 2022 on June 18.

Also this week, I reported on a new Delaware-based startup studio, Launch Point Labs, as well as what the metro areas leading in pandemic recovery have in common.

What else happened this week in Delaware?

On Thursday, Gov. John Carney signed House Bill 360 to send $300 in direct payments to Delaware residents. It’s the result of bipartisan tax rebate legislation “intended to help counter the impact of inflation on Delaware families,” per the governor’s office.

Check it out: The new #MILLSUMMIT website is up and running. This year’s hybrid event will be held Aug. 2 through 4. Guests and in-person locations to be announced.

State agencies and local governments can now learn how climate change is impacting Delaware, how to best prepare for these challenges and how to take advantage of opportunities for improving resilience and reducing emissions through a Delaware Climate Leadership Academy training beginning this spring. It’s offered by the State of Delaware in partnership with the Association of Climate Change Officers.

Delaware State University has been awarded a $2 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support the growth of its College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology. The funding will go toward the establishment of a Center of Excellence in Emerging Technologies.

Do parents need to spend less time on their phones when they’re with their kids? UD professor Roberta Golinkoff has published a new study on the influence of cell phones on parent-child interactions.

Gov. Carney has nominated Patricia A. Winston, a partner at Morris James in Wilmington since 2017, to serve as a judge on the Superior Court in New Castle County. The Delaware Senate is expected to consider her nomination next month.

Companies: Futures First Gaming / Wilmington University

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