A new organization and gaming event series called You Are Not Alone (YANA) has been formed to combat loneliness during the pandemic and raise funds for coronavirus-related charities.
The initiative begins May 2 from noon BST to midnight BST with an online gaming event that aims to reach over 10M gamers worldwide. Participants and spectators will be able to donate to various COVID-19 causes through crowdfunding donation platform Just Giving.
YANA will feature official live streams on Facebook Gaming and Twitch. Official supporting partners include game developers/publishers Ubisoft, Greenman Gaming, Sports Interactive, and Codemasters, as well as British multinational investment bank Barclays.
The new gaming-centric organization was founded by Adam Whyte, co-founder and CEO of Edge Esports, who describes YANA as a kind of grassroots “Live Aid for Gaming.”
“People aren’t really talking enough about the mental impact that COVID-19 is going to have on our society,” Whyte told The Esports Observer. “We’re inherently social creatures. Taking away someone’s FIFA football and their NBA and their NCAA and Olympics and ComicCon makes it very difficult for us to find these social gatherings. You can’t congregate in the pubs. So I thought, why don’t we use gaming to bring people together?”
Since hatching the idea for YANA, Whyte was moved by how many people stepped up to help. His WhatsApp group for the event quickly grew into a thriving Slack channel of industry professionals, he says, and brands have been incredibly supportive.
“No one is trying to sell stuff,” said Whyte. “[Brands are] just saying, ‘tell me how I can help.’”
The content calendar is still being finalized with brands and publishers, and a full schedule will be released soon. So far, Barclays has agreed to host a 64-player FIFA 20 tournament with 32 amateurs, 16 pro gamers, and 16 athletes, celebrities, influencers, etc. Ubisoft will offer activities around several of their key franchises, and Sports Interactive will provide Football Manager as an official title.
Whyte highlighted the fact that brands being so willing to help is a sign of the times.
“I don’t think three years ago you would have had Barclays hosting a FIFA tournament with celebrities and pro gamers converging.”
Whyte predicts that gamers will remember brands that stepped up to help when they needed it most.
“The brands that get involved today and demonstrate that they understand their place and they’re willing to support and help gamers[…]will be rewarded in the future because of the loyalty that they showed at this difficult to navigate time,” he said. “I think any brand looking to feel the meaningful connection with the consumers post-covid is right to support in a non-financial capacity right now. Right to support in a very gamer-centric fashion.”
In terms of his future goals for YANA, Whyte is optimistic, but open to possibilities.
“I don’t know where we go from here, but it’s really difficult to stop a train with so much momentum, so we’ll see. [In the meantime], my goal is to play UNO against my mom on that Saturday [so she realizes] that gaming is accessible and can bring us together.”
This interview was conducted by Trent Murray.
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