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DSH attend parliament panel event with Intel UK

Author: Harry Carr

Ukie hosted their esports parliamentary event in Westminster yesterday, featuring Intel UK and members of the esports APPG. The evening involved talks about the esports industry and the social and careers benefits of esports. In a speed Q&A, Mo Fadl head of esports at Riot Games, Michael O’Dell general manager of Team Dignitas, and programme director Shahneila Saeed, gave their opinions on how the industry is currently doing and what they anmticipate for it's future. The evening was also co-hosted by future chair of the esports APPG, Alex Sobel British Labour Co-op politician.

The event brought many different organisations from the UK esports sector together to talk about both the pros of esports, but also the challenges of growing the sector and making those who don’t know about esports aware of it. Ukie’s COO Daniel Wood, opened the proceedings declaring "esports are not just a niche hobby". 

Michael explained how the UK teams have started to build their own infrastructure to play/practice esports. Teams are now often using Football Stadiums for their HUB of esports, with Team Dignitas using Crystal Palace’s Stadium to train and play for their tournaments. Las Vegas currently has the largest esports stadium with a 30,000-square-foot, multilevel arena which is designed to host every form of competitive gaming.

Further to this, Daniel asked the panel on how esports could improve it’s diversity where all panellists showed positivity towards the future of esports and its diversity. O’Dell mentioned his own Woman’s Counter Strike team saying "We want to give them every possibility", followed by how the industry used to have "lack of salaries" but has now changed for the better and will only continue to improve. 

Shahneila stated "It's about having those ops for students to engage. To encourage diversity, we need to show students something different, then barriers are broken down. We need to find a way to reach those who don't know about esports". The esports sector is quickly growing in the UK and with a large proportion of young viewers, Shahneila is certain this generation will be sure to expand esports into the mainstream. 

The panel was asked what they wanted from this esports parliamentary event and what kind of support they’d like to see from the government. Mo wanted more growth, Micheal wanted more recognition and Shahneila wanted more support for the next generation of future talent.

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Shahneila was also asked by an audience member “What’s next for Digital Schoolhouse in 2019?” 

“We want to allow the tournaments to be inclusive for all schools regardless of being on the programme or not. We want to grow the tournament year on year, it’s already a national tournament and we want to be able to bring more schools on board. For the first 2 years of the tournament, only schools signed up to the DSH programme would have been eligible. We want to continue to build in the immersive careers, continue to support teachers and continue to year by year support the schools.”

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