How TENSTAR is embracing a grassroots approach to bringing diversity and education to esports

by Dominic Widdop | November 03, 2022

Since its conception TENSTAR has paved the way for inclusion and pushes for diversity within UK esports. 

The UK-based esports organisation first created in 2021, was primarily focused on building competitive Valorant rosters, both in the Tier 2 scene and in VCT Game Changers before expanding into community efforts. The original male squad were eventually signed by esports giant Mad Lions after a successful tenure, and Nova, their female team, are two-time EMEA Champions.

However, despite successes on the server TENSTAR has constantly been committed to using its ever-growing platform to use grassroots approaches to make the space better for future generations by doing work to promote diversity and education.

TENSTAR and FOG Education Lead Dominic Widdop hopes to give some insight into the journey and future of TENSTAR's community efforts.

What does diversity mean to TENSTAR?

Diversity means everything to us as an organisation. Esports and gaming despite many positive steps forward are riddled with discrimination and bigotry at every level. Our pushes, especially in Game Changers (female and marginalised gender Valorant) are hopes to narrow this margin until it no longer exists.

Every game should be accessible and barriers including social, economic, and discriminatory are ones we can hope to eradicate in future with education and pushes for inclusion.

Taking the lead in this also hopefully pushes other esports organisations forward into helping the future generations that will be their fans and staff.

How did TENSTAR get involved in doing programming in education and schools?

TENSTAR has always been a community-focused organisation. Although we compete in esports and value competition we have always strived to integrate those groups disadvantaged by society. We began with a pilot session going to a Primary School and talking to the children about gaming, digital education and well-being and letting them explore some basic games.

Following the success of this pilot, we assisted Acti-fit one of our partners in a Christmas HAF (Holiday Activities and Food) Programme. Here we provided a session where children on free school meals had the chance to play on some gaming hardware and take part in fun mini-games.

Next came Easter HAF Camps where we again helped provide more educational gaming content for children at multiple camps.

Summer was when we partook in our first solo camp. It was a resounding success getting fully booked in under a week and providing children with enriching and educational gaming activities, sports, and hot meals. In Summer alone we gave over 300 hot meals to children, got incredible feedback from Special Needs children and parents and gained an almost perfect rating from the local council.

We are now planning our Christmas Camps.

Why is this work important to TENSTAR as an org?

Work in education, inclusion and diversity is important to us as they are universal areas where people struggle, and barriers are met. These barriers should not prevent anyone from opportunities within gaming or esports.

The current social climate of the UK and the wider world means that more and more young people are at risk of digital exclusion. A lack of money for equipment and good digital education standards is damaging to all of us in the industry.

We have staff from many backgrounds and creeds, and we want esports, gaming and wider digital areas to be as inclusive and accessible as we are.

What are some key initiatives TENSTAR has put out recently?

We have just started teaching sessions using Minecraft Education in Children’s Homes. Coding and mindfulness are among the many subjects we have provided allowing children excluded from the school system a chance to engage in digital skills.

We assisted at Pride House Birmingham in the Gayming Space (arranged by Gayming Magazine) helping educate people on the history of Gay gaming and allow for people to try some inclusive games.

Our female Valorant team Nova are 2x European Champions and pioneers in the female and marginalised gender esports scene. We have been avid supporters of this scene and providing opportunity and equal coverage for those who sadly are sometimes excluded.

Pushing digital education of LGBTQ history and overall inclusion and safety through Minecraft Education is another venture we have been piloting recently.

TENSTAR are now preparing for two Walsall based HAF Camps for Christmas for more information message us on Twitter!


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