War Child’s Wayne Emanuel on Game On and the charity’s aim to hold it’s first esports tournament

Gaming and charity have had a long and varied history together, with many initiatives looking to get gamers and those who enjoy gaming to donate to charity. They’re aiming to have their first esports event in 2017, but what shape will it take?

Gaming and charity have had a long and varied history together, with many initiatives looking to get gamers and those who enjoy gaming to donate to charity.

War Child are one of the charities that seems to have really embraced this. For the last several years, the charity has worked with games publishers and developers to further charitable causes, and it’s now launching Game On, a gaming hub on the War Child website that is aimed at both showcasing the charities past successes and offering up future options for those in the games industry that are looking to collaborate with War Child on charitable causes.

This year, War Child are also eying up their very first esports event. We chatted to Wayne Emanuel, War Child UK’s Gaming Development Manager, to find out more about Game On, War Child’s esports ambitions and what developers can do to get involved.

“Game On is a hub where studios, developers, publishers, can reach out to War Child and suggest ideas, and innovative ways of helping us to emphasise our messaging at War Child, which is to help children who’ve been displaced and affected by conflict.” said Emanuel.

“It’s kind of like a long time coming, because we’ve been working with the gaming industry since I guess around 2006. And so yeah, today’s kind of like our launch of that and our Game On Twitter handle as well. We’ve reached out to some of the biggest personalities within the gaming industry to help amplify our messages, and some of the things where children have been affected by conflicts.”

Verdun’s Christmas truce was organised for Armstice last year, with War Child

Game On has worked in tandem with some of gaming’s bright lights like Tim Schafer, Randy Pitchford, Rhianna Pratchett and Charles Cecil to amplify that message. It’s a continuation of the work War Child started when they originally started working with Miles Jacobson, senior director of Sports Interactive. He started supporting War Child in a very visible way in 2006. “You can see still to this day, if you play Football Manager, on the sidelines you can see War Child’s logo on hoarding.” Emanuel said. “From there, we’ve started working with other studios, World of Tanks, This War of Mine and others.”

But how does War Child’s work in games translate to esports?

“We’ve not fully announced anything, but we’re actively looking into esports and esports tournaments,” Emanuel enthused. “Fingers crossed, it’s something we can do and be involved in this year in the UK and, depending on how that performs we’d love to do something globally.

Rocket League is the type of game War Child want to work with to create esports tournaments

“It’s definitely on our radar, we know how big the reach is, how many viewers there are. It’s good for reach awareness, and being able to talk about the work War Child does to people who may not be aware of us in an environment they’re comfortable with is a massive benefit to us.”

“The whole point, for us, is integrating, and making sure that we’re working with the right partners with the right type of partnership, and collaboration. So it’s really important that we work really closely with, say, studios to make sure that the messaging is on point and that we’re still staying true to War Child messaging, which is about the advocacy of children who’ve been affected by conflict and ways of fundraising effectively.”

For esports companies looking to get involved with War Child, you should reach out to them: “we’re kind of looking at it from an organiser’s perspective, we’re open to being part of existing tournaments, but we’re also really interested in working with organisers on setting up new esports tournaments specific to charities. We’d also love to talk to esports teams and partner with them, or to work with developers of games that are esports-friendly that we can work with.

Emanuel talks about Rocket League as an example of the sort of game that War Child would love to work with, a title with a large competitive scene and big audience, that isn’t predicated on violence or war. Yes, everything is still up in the air, but Emanuel is hopeful that this year could see War Child’s first esports tournament, something that he feels is “really important” and a key part of the charity’s growth strategy in video games.