Intel have partnered with eSports giant ESL to create the AnyKey organisation, a collaboration with the aim of "supporting diversity in and around the competitive gaming industry."
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"Our Mission is to help create fair and inclusive spaces in esports for women and other underrepresented gamers," says the AnyKey site. It's a respectable agenda, and will hopefully result in more people being interested in eSports, which sounds like a win for everyone, really.
"The AnyKey organization’s core goal is to create more opportunities, inclusive spaces and advocate for underrepresented members of competitive communities such as women, people of color and LGBTQ participants," adds ESL.
The organisation consists of two teams: one for research and one for implementing solutions. The research team, headed up by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor T.L. Taylor, will attempt to establish discussions like the Women in eSports panel and will set up workshops with industry experts. They will also be taking data on events and publishing the findings.
Meanwhile, the development team, led by former director of eSports at Red 5 and co-founder of Ubisoft’s Frag Dolls, Morgan Romine, will be looking at this data and trying to tackle any diversity issues, as well as developing strategies to combat them - presumably by making the events more welcoming to underrepresented groups and hosting events targeted at them.
Professional women-only Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament The Intel Challenge, Katowice, is an example of these diversity initiatives. "Hosted at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, the industry’s largest and most-watched event, the tournament offers women a platform unlike any other, with this year also seeing the debut of the first ever AnyKey lounge - a welcoming space for conversation, networking and information exchange," says the blurb on ESL's site.
This will also host the AnyKey Code of Conduct which will outline the organisation's inclusion policy for live eSports events and online broadcasts, the main goal being to "formally address issues surrounding harassment within the industry."
Jesse Sell, senior manager of pro gaming, business and strategy at ESL, said of the initiative: “The need for an organization such as AnyKey is clear, and with the help of Intel we have been able to make it a reality. AnyKey initiatives are well underway and with those that will debut at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice and beyond, we hope to be an advocate for positive change. We’re looking to broach a subject that most shy away from - it’s a daunting road that lies ahead but we have a fantastic team on board and we’re confident we can make a difference.”
Let's hope he's right.