by Paul J. Foster, CEO, Global Esports Federation
5,4,3,2,1 – and just like that, we are here at the beginning of a new chapter and another spin around the sun. Welcome 2022, we have been waiting for you.
This past year I have learned so much across our real and virtual worlds – an increasingly seamless combination that has become our reality. But what I learned over-and-over again this year, is that humans are wired to connect and be connected, but even more so, to belong. It all seems so right that when we created the Global Esports Federation just two years ago, our community rallied to our motto, #worldconnected.
For an organization built to convene the world’s esports community, and bring credibility, legitimacy and prestige to esports – we knew we had to create a diverse, innovative events portfolio that the world would be proud of and could work in these challenging times. What arose as a consequence of that focus, was the visible joy of human connection, the knowledge that our true strength lies in our collective talent and our lightning-speed agility all powered by our deep commitment to radical inclusion. When many in our galaxy froze, we moved, accelerated and jumped in to help our communities more than ever before. Traditional sport looked forward to digital, the billions in gaming lit the rise of esports, we embraced powerful technology, created Active Esports - and we all got along very well.
But what we did was listen, share and connect, and we did that often.
What we haven’t talked about before was our pure grit and courage – our spirit to fight, yes fight. As our teams based at HQ in Singapore and around the world battled against the wearying challenges of a global pandemic – we kept moving forward. For the last 6 months, everyday became a contest of courage. We leveraged the collective expertise of our 150+ Board and Commission members to supplement our remarkable workforce that needed to be ready and prepared to host the esports world by mid-December.
In the words of the GEF President from his speech at the Opening Ceremony we had to
“achieve the near-impossible”.
Likewise, and what was very powerful for me to see in the weeks leading to the GEG, was the sheer resilience of our community. I have certainly seen human determination and grit before, but never like this. Just as we battled towards the Opening Ceremony, the GEF’s Member Federations around the world rallied and fought really hard to prepare their teams to get to Singapore and participate at these inaugural Global Esports Games.
In the end, despite fighting hard to select their individual teams, qualify those teams and prepare to travel to the World Finals, some in our GEFamily were not able to jet to Singapore. In those very last weeks and in some cases days, Covid-19 rose again in the form of the Omicron variant – and challenged us all once more. The world responded swiftly, immediately implementing travel restrictions, deferring re-engagement strategies and required even more stringent testing regimes.
What I also re-learned this year, is that humans, all of us, but particularly young people – love to play. This simple playing of games teaches us many things; joy, fun, builds and renews friendships, harnesses inclusion and fair play, develops universal languages that connect and celebrate our creativity, our energy, our diversity and our beautiful differences.
All of us remember the happiest of times – when we have played games – either in sport, with family, in music, with friends taking a simple walk together - and playing and watching esports. It is now perhaps more clear to me than ever - humans love playing games together. It’s a beautiful part of life.
At this time of the year – many of us start to think of renewal, gift giving and perhaps receiving gifts too. A new great gift has arrived right in front of us – the gift of the metaverse – where real and virtual worlds converge in seamless harmony. A future we can actively participate in, powered by limitless capacities and sheer speed of technology, offering the promise of a world that is more equitable, fair and inclusive - a future with more great games and much more fun.
We end this year with a farewell to our flagship event, the Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games. With so many developments, exciting partnerships and opportunities on the horizon, we now look forward to the next Global Esports Games in Istanbul in December 2022, in Riyadh 2023, in China 2024, the United Arab Emirates in 2025 and in the USA in 2026.
In a year that will long be remembered for its continued challenges, we now know that the only way forward is to move through that fog into the yet-to-be-known.
Today more than yesterday, powered by that resilience, grit and energy of our #worldconnected community, the future feels a little more certain, joyful, abundant and bright.
Happy New Year. #worldconnected