A Message from PlayVS CEO Jon Chapman- The Next Chapter for PlayVS
In my first few months as CEO of PlayVS, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many passionate esports participants and supporters. There is incredible energy and commitment in our collective community that makes it very clear why esports is the fastest-growing sport in the world today. That said, what I am most moved by are the consistent reminders of how esports have positively impacted the lives of so many students across North America.
Education and participation in sports have been extremely formative influences in my life. I grew up in rural Massachusetts as the son of public servants who committed their careers and lives to education and social work. At an early age, I learned the critical importance of our education system and the passionate teachers, administrators, and coaches. I also experienced the pride of representing my schools – from elementary school through college – on the basketball court and across various other team sports. Through all of these experiences, I gained immense respect and appreciation for the value of working hard in and outside the classroom, setting ambitious goals, collaborating as a team, and learning so many life lessons from both successes and setbacks.
It’s because of these influences that I have dedicated my entire career to education. Prior to joining PlayVS, I had the opportunity to co-found and lead the social impact education company EverFi for 15 years. During that time, we built and delivered critical skills education programs that impacted over 50 million students. And we did this at no cost to students, families, or schools by developing an ecosystem of organizations focused on supporting their communities.
This brings me to today’s exciting community news. Beginning with the Spring 2024 season, PlayVS will remove competition fees for all state and regional leagues, enabling schools and students to take part in the highest tier of scholastic competition across the most popular gaming titles.
We’re taking this important step in an effort to reduce barriers for students everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic status or resources, and to drive yet further adoption of scholastic esports. We want to do our part in making it easier than ever for schools to offer esports programs so that students can experience the many benefits associated with competitive gaming – including socialization, character growth, and the development of important STEAM skills. The removal of competition fees will open up the opportunity to compete in esports to thousands of lower and middle-income high schools where the cost to compete is the main barrier to entry.
Esports are uniquely accessible in that they are co-ed and don’t require specific physical attributes to be successful. One of my favorite statistics is that 45% of our student community reports that esports was their very first experience participating in an extracurricular school activity. That tells me that esports are providing incredibly valuable opportunities for many more students to get involved and to represent their schools. Our recent PlayVS’ Fall 2023 Mid-Season Survey of Active Coaches also captures some very positive statistics: 90% of our esports coaches report seeing an improvement in student socialization through esports; 74% see improvement in mental health and positive life outlook; and 60% of coaches report seeing an improvement in grades or attendance among players.
I firmly believe that esports are more than just a form of entertainment – they’re a platform for personal and educational growth. We want to ensure that every student has access to this unique opportunity, regardless of the resources their school can allocate. There is a major need and opportunity for organizations to support important, youth-based initiatives in their communities. That’s why we’re focused on creating a vibrant ecosystem of organizations that can help support the expansion of esports in schools.
Today’s exciting announcement is just the beginning. Our shift to free competition is a part of my broader vision for our company. Starting this December, PlayVS will also spearhead new initiatives that will drive increased esports adoption at large. In early 2024, PlayVS will host our first-ever PlayVS Live event in Austin, TX. The initiative will unite local community members and esports players for a day of competition and connection. We are committed to introducing new avenues of growth for amateur esports and will be launching several additional PlayVS Live events in 2024 across current and new gaming titles.
Thank you to so many in our community that have welcomed me into our thriving esports community. I am incredibly energized by what we are all building, and I very much look forward to finding ways for PlayVS to be a true advocate and supporter of opportunity for our entire ecosystem.
Jon Chapman, PlayVS CEO