Black Collegiate Gaming Association Launches 2022 Corners to Colleges HBCU Program

By Christina Norris | The Voice of Atlanta

The Black Collegiate Gaming Association (BCGA) launched its inaugural Corners to Colleges Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) program this month. The program provides high school students with a week of HBCU college prep games. During their week-long stay on HBCU campuses, students work with academic esports advisors in campus gaming and innovation labs. They also work on case studies and BCGA corporate partner projects.

Students participating in the program receive weekly stipends, certificates of completion, special awards, and scholarships to one of BCGA’s member institutions. Member institutions include Florida A&M University, Mississippi Valley State University, Edward Waters University, Florida Memorial University, Alabama State University, Alabama A&M University, and Jackson State University.

“First and foremost, the purpose of the Corners to Colleges program is to let high school students know that the gaming industry is about more than just playing video games at home,” said the Founder and President of BCGA Keshia Walker. “Secondly, [they receive] exposure to HBCU life and what it’s like to stay in an HBCU. Third, [they’re introduced] all things gaming and tech.

Walker made history in May by becoming the first African American woman to own a collegiate esports and gaming company in America. According to the association websiteBCGA’s goal is “to pivot black students and women of color throughout the gaming industry, not just as consumers but as contributors”.

“I have to give all the credit to my nephew, who was 11 at the time,” Walker said. “He told me he wanted to get into esports and the gaming industry, but he didn’t see HBCUs that gave him the opportunity to go to that school and get into gaming and esports. I told my nephew that I was going to do something to change that, and a week later I started the Black Collegiate Gaming Association. My mission and calling is to help more students of color to enter this space whether or not they attend an HBCU.

There has been a growing conversation about the underrepresentation of people of color in the gaming industry. Although the gaming industry supports 428,646 jobsonly 2% of those job holders are black.

“The numbers are dismal,” Walker said. “Less than 3% of the industry is black in terms of corporate leadership, and less than half of the industry is women of color. Over 60% of everything in games is bought by black people and people of color, yet we are underrepresented in decision-making in this space. BCGA was created to solve this problem.“

Women are also underrepresented in the gaming industry. According to a investigation Led by gaming internet and e-commerce researcher Jessica Clement, women accounted for 45% of gamers in 2021. However, gaming remains a male-dominated field. Walker talks about the discrimination she faced due to her status as a woman in the gaming industry.

“It’s a very male-dominated industry,” Walker said. “I’ve faced a lot of gender issues. A lot of men in this industry are very threatened by women, and unfortunately a lot of that comes from men who look like us. They’re threatened by the fact that a wife comes and does something in some long underserved areas.

Today, the BCGA benefits from several contributions from brand sponsors. These sponsors include Sony Playstation, HyperX, Intel, Google Play, Lenovo, Staples, and GameStop.

“I’ve been fortunate to be in business for 23 years,” Walker said. “It helped start the dialogue, and having that background with expertise helped me have that foundation to reach out to the CEOs of those companies to say, ‘I need you to help me write this. ‘story. “”

After the Corners To Colleges HBCU program ends this year, the BCGA will host a free games and sports academy in the fall. The academy will focus on conversations about ways to enter the gaming industry.

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Andrew B. Reiter