Meet Amy Yu, founder of Varsity Games; an organisation that brings esports to universities around the UK.
What is your job role and what does it entail?
I’m the founder behind Varsity Games and we are an organisation focused on the university sector with the purpose to enhance student experience through esports, drive positive social change and become a vehicle to encourage education and learning. As a new company my role involves a bit of everything, though my core focus is on creating and developing a range of products to engage our audience while holding true to our values.
How did you start working in games and esports in particular?
I studied Mathematics at King’s College London and since graduating, I’ve worked across various industries spanning from fashion, art, recruitment and egames. Throughout my career, I’ve had an incredible journey to experience various roles from different vantage points which gave me a broad understanding of how a business runs.
Coming across esports in 2015, and spotting a gap in the market for an organisation that delivers consistent grassroots tournaments specifically for students at universities, I decided to start a company to deliver that solution. Since then, I’ve run 5 university tournaments, one of which had participation from 16 UK university teams. For me the ultimate motivation comes from meeting and working with students who are passionate and enthusiastic for the games they play; and knowing I’ve been able to provide them with a platform where they can be recognised and rewarded.
Looking back, is there anything that inspired your passion for games and esports in particular?
Thinking back I’ve been an avid gamer since my days at university. I used to play World of Warcraft and in my third year I lived in a gaming house with 7 friends and we all went on weekly raids and BGs. I always look back at those times with nostalgia because we really bonded over the shared experience and journey.
I guess in a way, Varsity Games is an extension of what I’d want to get involved with if I was still at university. Going forward, I want to create close-knit communities where the players have a shared sense of purpose, whether that be representing their university in esports games or making new friends with players from other universities. For me, it’s all about being able to connect people where lifelong friendships will flourish.
Did you study anything at school/college that you think helps you in your job now?
Mathematics definitely helps, not in a literal way, but more in a logical way of thinking things through thoroughly. One of the practices I still follow when I am faced with a massive project is to break it down into smaller chunks. For each of the chunks I challenge myself with series of fundamental questions. For the questions I can’t answer - I either do lots of research or seek the advice or thoughts from relevant people. The more information I can categorise, the less imposing the overall project will look.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Devising creative solutions is the favourite part of my job. My core role is to make Varsity Games the destination for students to go to for anything around esports, gaming and hackathons. In order to do that, I’m constantly seeking opinions, feedback and ideas for improvement from our audience and the partners we work with.
What is the hardest thing about your job?
It’s probably the commercial side of the business, or rather making it into a sustainable long term business. As much as we have all these great values we do need revenue to run our initiatives. This is the struggle for grassroots organisations because most companies focus their marketing budgets on the top tier competitions.
Can you describe what your average working day is like?
At the moment I’m taking on a Chief Technical Officer role as I’m designing our website’s site map and working with website developers on our platform and functionalities.
How do you think esports can inspire young people to consider a career in games?
I think in order to inspire young people to consider a career in games they need to have an understanding of what roles and skills are available. There’s a range of opportunities in esports which people usually overlook, from tournament organisers to media production and broadcasting.
Having an initial passion for esports is definitely a source of inspiration, and then it’s about understanding where your strengths and skills lie in order to identify the best career for yourself.
The Young Game Designers are in an exciting period for game players and designers alike, with technology, content and gamer communities constantly evolving. What do you think the future of game in the UK looks like?Yu
With the continued growth of video games as a new cultural medium, coupled with faster broadband and improved access to technology, esports is now one of the fastest growing digital industries in the world. In 2016, the UK esports audience grew to 6.5million people, with 3.1 million watching more than once a month. The audience is expected to grow 7.5% year on year to reach 8 million people by 2019.
We are fast approaching a change where entertainment will increasingly be consumed in the digital space. Going forward, we need to embrace technology and gaming as the next wave of entertainment for young people growing up in this digital age however, this is not to say we dissociate with the values of traditional education. Perhaps, it is time we rethink how young people are being taught at schools and find ways to gamify the process of learning.