Daily Esports spoke to Ryan Johnson, founder and executive director of Cxmmunity. The nonprofit organization works within the esports education community, helping minority students find their way into the industry. Additionally, they work with high schools and universities to develop esports teams and clubs. Overall, their mission is to create an industry pathway for under-served youth.
Daily Esports: Tell us about when Cxmmunity was founded, and what was the deciding factor that made you want to create this organization?
Ryan Johnson: Cxmmunity was founded in September 2019 as a solution to help minorities break into the esports and video game industry. As I continued to learn about the growing opportunities for K-12 and collegiate students within esports, I noticed a trend that minority schools and HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) weren’t involved in the conversation.
We are fortunate to have John Cash on our board. John, the adjunct professor at Johnson C. Smith University, recently implemented the first minor esports management course at an HBCU. Our ultimate goal is to build out the esports landscape, exposing minorities to multidisciplinary career paths within the esports industry.
Top-tier games and top-tier leagues compete on high-powered PCs, which is one of the greatest challenges within esports. Creating a barrier of entry or a “Pay to Play” system that eliminates many potential contestants. Once we noticed this trend, we quickly formed Cxmmunity to be a voice and resource for those who want to be engaged in the industry but cannot afford to.
What kind of esports games are schools most interested in? In your experience, how involved are schools with esports?
Schools are most open to titles like Fortnite, Rocket League, League of Legends, Smite, Madden, and NBA 2K. Schools that can afford it are fully embracing esports. Georgia was quick to jump on the opportunity to provide esports as a varsity sports program. This gave local youth here an upper hand as other states are quickly trying to figure out the most effective way to implement esports into their school districts.
Tell us a bit about your recent event with FaZe Clan and Offset, and what kind of opportunities were given to those students who were there?
In partnership with Axis Replay and RIISE Ventures, we were able to gather roughly 200 students throughout Metro Atlanta, and Offset provided $10,000.00 in scholarship to select students. The purpose of the day was to expose students to opportunities in esports and also take them to an esports event (Call of Duty Homestand Weekend, Atlanta). Throughout the day, students could interact with Offset and other members of Atlanta FaZe before being bused to the Gateway Center Arena. Additionally, it amazed students to see an influencer like Offset talk to them about continuing their education and the importance of working hard to achieve their dreams.
The current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on schools and students. How will this affect their learning in STEM/ esports?
School districts unable to provide their students with a 1:1 device ratio pose a big challenge. During this COVID-19 era, we need to be very intentional about providing students the tools to continue their education virtually. With schools being out indefinitely, students are at high risk of falling behind in their schoolwork, which can set them back an extra year. However, we are currently raising funds to fight against this.
Furthermore, what shift in action is Cxmmunity taking now that this pandemic has affected multiple schools throughout several states?
The main action we are taking is working with local STEM foundations and city officials to begin addressing the current technology gap and looking to raise funds to provide students in need with the proper devices to continue learning. We are also working with online tournament organizers to help curate online leagues while the students are on leave that will lead to small prize pools. On April 18 we will host our first online tournament with our partners at Black Salt Coreuption. Additionally, this free tournament awards the winner with a $500 prize.
Daily Esports thanks Ryan Johnson for his time and wishes Cxmmunity the best of luck in its future endeavors to help minorities break into the esports and video game industry