05 Jun 2023
by Jeffery Fricke-Waters

Launching an Esports Equity Board

In January 2023, our DePaul Esports program launched its first ever DePaul Esports Equity Board, or DEEB for short. DEEB is a leader scholarship initiative, created and advised by Jeffery Fricke-Waters (me), Esports Coordinator, to program and create spaces within the Esports community for specific marginalized identities. DEEB is comprised of 5 students to lead specific initiatives for their salient identity. We have 5 positions on the board being Black Gaming Liaison, APIDA Gaming Liaison, Latinx Gaming Liaison, LGBTQIA+ Gaming Liaison, and Women & Femme Identifying Gaming Liaison. Another major aspect of DEEB is the intentional partnerships with our campus' Cultural Centers. A first major project for DEEB was to create the relationship with the Cultural Center coordinators and establish a continual partnership through the initial collaborative event and joint marketing tactics for the separate DEEB Discords. 

A major component to the success of the board is the partnership with our on campus cultural centers. While the DEEB students are doing the initial outreach, I work closely with the Cultural Center Coordinators to talk about what the collaborative goals are and how we can best achieve them. As for the tangible events and outcomes, we let the DEEB students lead and as the advisor and the Cultural Center Coordinator, we guide them to what is realistic and getting the best possible result from the event idea(s).

The events that DEEB has put on has ranged from large scale events like our Black Light Gaming Night led by our Black Gaming liaison to smaller group focused events like our community nights where a DEEB board member takes over the DePaul Gaming Center for an evening to lead conversations and facilitate relaxed gaming tournaments or free-play for their specific identity. These intentional programs help form affinity spaces where students of similar identities can create communities with a shared love of gaming.  

After each event, the DEEB students reflect on the experience in a written paragraph (or two) and write about what went well, what didn't, how they contributed to creating safer spaces, and how they'll make the next event even better. During 1:1's with the DEEB students, we reflect together based on what they wrote, and I push them to consider how they contributing to a safer Esports community for marginalized students. 

These events and the intentional collaboration with our on campus cultural centers have created a sense of community among our marginalized Esports gamers. I have regularly heard about how students have appreciated the shift into inclusivity and have been able to find their place in our Esports program. While this is our first year doing it and some growing pains along the way, the Cultural Center Coordinators and I have already started planning out our next academic year, how to recruit students to the DEEB program and how to continue to build what we have already started this year. This program will continue to grow and show that everyone has a place in Esports.

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