Clark University Esports is hosting a daylong conference to examine issues of diversity and inclusion in the esports realm. Open to all, the conference will be held on Monday, March 20, in Tilton Hall.
Throughout the day, four panel discussions will address critical topics in the gaming industry: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Intersection of Esports; Collegiate Esports and Inclusivity; Esports and Toxicity: Changing the Tide; and Professional Esports Organizations and DEI.
The conference — one of the first of its kind in the U.S. — is being organized by Clark’s esports executive team “to create a national conversation around the importance of diversity and inclusion and to promote equity across the entire esports ecosystem — collegiate, high school, leagues, industry, teams, sponsorships, etc.,” said Alan Ritacco, associate vice president for external relations and senior fellow for electronic arts, computer science, and esports at Clark. Along with Ritacco, executive team members are Danielle Manning, executive vice president and CFO; John LaBrie, associate provost and dean of the School of Professional Studies; and Nicholas “Shifty” Travis, director of esports at Clark.
Around 500 students participate in Clark Esports. “Clark University has quickly become a national figure in esports by creating an inclusive environment for all students,” Ritacco said.
The conference’s morning keynote address will be presented by Danny Martin, co-founder and CEO of Ēsposure. A global educational technology company, Ēsposure delivers immersive learning experiences and a gamified learning platform to increase access and resources for future innovators. Martin is also an instructor of esports team organization, management, and recruitment at Southern Methodist University.
Verta Maloney, co-founder of the*gameHERs, will deliver a lunchtime plenary lecture. In addition to being the chief community officer at the*gameHERs — a women-led community dedicated to amplifying and centering the voices and roles of women gamers and femme-identifying gamers — Maloney runs her own business helping individuals and organizations share their racial autobiographies and stories to combat racism.
The goal of the day’s second panel, “Collegiate Esports and Inclusivity: A White Paper Panel Discussion,” is to build the foundation for a long-term conversation by creating a whitepaper from the conference that can be leveraged by collegiate esports programs, Ritacco said.
Joining a range of Clark experts on the discussion panels are leaders from institutions and companies across the gaming and tech industries, including LG, Amazon, Electronic Arts, and universities including the United States Military Academy West Point, New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport, Mount St. Mary’s University, and Slippery Rock University.
Ritacco added that Clark Esports’ partners from Oxygen Esports, the NECC esports league, and Performance-Parabellum Esports will also be participating in the conference, which is co-sponsored by the Office of the President, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the Provost, Division of Student Success, and School of Professional Studies.
The conference is open to the entire Clark community and the public and is expected to draw collegiate organizations, corporate professionals, sponsors, and leagues from throughout the United States, Ritacco said.