Executive Director, Programs and Content, Eric F. Brinkley aims to elevate the Global Esports Tour and redefine inclusive gaming culture worldwide
For Eric F. Brinkley, 2023 was quite a year – focusing on streaming, events, and community. At the beginning of 2024, Eric was promoted to Executive Director, Programs and Content. In addition, he is the first Commissioner of the Global Esports Tour (GET).
The plan is to elevate an already successful program. “We’re taking the portfolio, and we have really ambitious plans to expand into many host cities and communities around the world with our pro-gaming product,” says Eric.
While events like the Pan American Esports Championships and GEF’s flagship Global Esports Games have been very much about country representation, the pro-series Global Esports Tour is a product created for the esports and gaming communities.
“As in any sport, there are fans of teams, they turn out to fanatically cheer for the people they like,” says Eric. “And then there are fans of the games themselves, who end up finding a team they like and feed off the energy of the crowd.”
With GEF CEO, Paul J. Foster, focusing 2024 as GEF’s Year of Innovation, Eric is very much reimagining every way to bring a fresh angle and new framework for the GET portfolio.
“I’m trying to make sure we are innovating. I did a lot in my past roles building a lot of successful standalone properties with Counter-Strike, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty,” he says.
“I’m taking the learnings from building those up and applying them to GET, to give us a good foundation. We will then be working with the world-class partners that GEF has unlocked in terms of production, communications, fan experience, and merchandise. The idea is to elevate and build something new.”
This applies to both the commercial and community angle. “We’re asking, ‘How do we appeal to the community, and be different from what else is out there on the market?’” he says.
“Because we don’t want to replicate what everyone else is doing, we want to innovate new and fresh ideas.”
Gaming as a gateway to equality
Eric sees 2024 as a fresh “year one” for the GET but acknowledges the great work that has already gone into establishing the events as firm favorites.
“We have a lot of work to do, but the foundations are in place. The Member Federations that we have worked with as part of our #worldconnected family – have been instrumental in helping us with host cities, local governments, and delivery partners.
Different titles are being proposed for different cities, depending on the market. “We analyze the communities we go to, and ask ‘What will resonate in that community?’
“If it’s Southeast Asia or India, it’s mobile. In America and Europe, it’s console and PC. So, we need to select titles to attract fans, while also understanding that the esports landscape evolves so fast.
Major cities, big-name partners
Attracting the best players and teams in the world to the events will be a crucial factor. “We want to pack the houses and generate high viewership at the arena and online – and the pro-teams do that, creating fanbases,” says Eric.
“Host cities also want to welcome fans, drive tourism showcasing their cities.
“For GET Rio de Janeiro, we’re going to have four of the best Counter-Strike teams in Brazil play against four of the best teams in the world.
“The energy is incredible for that game, the fans love it in Rio, and they turn out, so Brazil versus the world is an exciting new angle.
“We’re also doing showcases with Women’s teams to showcase, provide support, and build. With a three-year runway with each city, we can build momentum and improve, year on year.”
GET in Riyadh is a good example – having hosted a trio of GET over the last three seasons, it has culminated with a hugely successful Global Esports Games in December 2023.
“In Riyadh, GET 2023 featured eFootball™ 2023 with participation including Manchester United and FC Barcelona, which was very cool,” says Eric. “It’s also an opportunity to build relationships with those clubs.
“My dream for a GEG in the future is we also have top pro players from the countries taking part. We get there by establishing relationships, so they know what we do. The GET is a good step in that dream.”
GET aside, Eric was instrumental in spearheading a ground-breaking partnership between the Global Esports Federation and MGM Alternative, a division of Amazon MGM Studios.
The landmark collaboration announced recently aimed to reshape the landscape of gaming content, focusing on GEF’s flagship Global Esports Games, esports athletes, and the vibrant gaming lifestyle. Eric's leadership, alongside Paul’s vision, was instrumental in realizing this ambitious venture, leveraging the combined expertise of MGM Alternative, known for producing hit shows like The Voice and Survivor, and GEF, dedicated to promoting the credibility and prestige of esports worldwide.
Eric is relishing a 2024 that will be busier than ever for the GEF. “I can’t wait for GET Rio, I can’t wait to get to China and visit Riyadh again and the many other cities we are partnering with around the world,” he says.
The Year of Innovation will see so much of that potential being unlocked across the #worldconnected.