Workforce development
Education / esports / Gaming

A sneak peek at Futures First Gaming’s new downtown Wilmington location

As the 4-year-old esports startup evolves, it’s preparing to open its first brick-and-mortar location.

Stephen Sye and Malcolm Coley in the soon-to-be FFG technology training in eSports competition center. (Technical.ly/Holly Quinn)

This story is a part of Technical.ly’s Future of Work Month. See the full 2024 editorial calendar.

Futures First Gaming is at home in many spaces, including Wilmington University, A.I. du Pont High School and Theatre N.

This summer, the four-year-old esports startup, often referred to as FFG, is doing something it’s never done before: opening its very own physical location in the Nemours Building, home of The Mill, where people can learn, compete, socialize and play.

“There’s nothing else like this in Delaware,” FFG cofounder Malcolm Coley told Technical.ly. “There’s not really anything like this in the region.”

Part workforce development classroom, part esports arena, part arcade and event space, FFG’s new technology training in eSports competition center is under cosmetic renovation, and under wraps, until it opens in July. Technical.ly got the chance to check it out and learn more about what they’re bringing to downtown Wilmington.

FFG will host tournaments, hourly game play and more

An FFG partnership with The Mill’s Theatre N, where they’ve held esports tournaments including past signature Pandamonium events, helped it get a spot in the Nemours Building. It’s conveniently adjacent to the first floor movie theater, giving FFG future access to big screen play during tournaments.

But FFG is much more than tournaments, and the new space will accommodate its many offerings. It will have a classroom, which will shift FFG’s workforce development program — covering the many career opportunities in esports, from coding to marketing to business management — from all virtual to mostly in-person. The space will also be used by middle and high school students, especially those attending nearby Friere, Kuumba Academy and Great Oaks charter schools.

Community members can also use the powerful gaming PCs and game consoles by paying by the hour or by signing up for a membership.

A larger empty room has a stack of big tv screens waiting to be installed. It will be a lounge-like area with a hookah bar vibe, cofounder and CEO Stephen Sye said. It will be used for competitions, events and member/hourly game play. Already, Sye said, there has been interest in renting the space for events.

“It’s something different,” he said.

A focus on young people and workforce development, too

The space marks a mid-point of an eventful year so far for FFG. In February, it was awarded a $50,000 EDGE grant from the Delaware Division of Small Business, and it won the $20,000 top price in last month’s Startup302 pitch competition in the Delaware Impact category.

In their Startup302 pitch, Coley said that they planned to use the funding to enhance the new location.

“We have the foundation, which is the space and the computers, but we want to bring this space to life by creating that aesthetic that gamers and technologists love,” Coley said.

FFG is continuing its ongoing relationships, including with A.I. du Pont High School, where it partners with the school’s esports team and esports career pathway curriculum, and Wilmington University, where they have an academic partnership in its certification and degree programs in game design and development, sports management, digital media and social media management. FFG also has an esports workforce development program in Las Vegas.

Eventually, the cofounders, including a third cofounder, Newdy Felton, intend to expand downstate. For now, the focus is on Wilmington, and making sure young people know that the resource exists, and that esports includes more than just playing video games.

“I really want to get [kids] to understand the technology application” of esports, said Sye. “And what that looks like on a real real world level.”

Series: Future of Work Month

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