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Esports link-up set to make gaming a serious option for College students

28 Nov 2023
The Wired Lobby team and Matt Telling

A pioneering partnership between Middlesbrough College and the Tees Valley’s newest gaming and esports centre is set to make some serious benefits for students.

The College is working with the people behind The Wired Lobby, a new state-of-the-art gaming and esports centre opening up in Middlesbrough, to help promote a range of opportunities for its students.

This will include apprenticeships, work placements and the establishment of an esports room in the College itself.

Esports – short for ‘electronic sports’ – is used to describe the competitive playing of video games such as those found on gaming consoles and PCs.

What started out as people playing in their bedrooms or online for fun has become a major industry with esports tournaments played at major venues, attracting hundreds of spectators and, increasingly, sponsorship and investment.

The Wired Lobby is starting up what is planned as the first in a series of purpose-built gaming venues, at the Captain Cook Centre in Middlesbrough town centre.

The venue – on the site of the former Peacocks store – has been extensively refurbished to provide one of the best esports and gaming centres around.

Facilities include a 100-seat tournament arena, an area with over 50 dedicated gaming PCs and consoles, state of the art pro-racing driving simulators (including six consoles housed in shells from real Mini Coopers), a 100-place licensed café and a VIP networking area.

Edwin Ford, Managing Director of The Wired Lobby, said that as well as providing a venue for dedicated gamers to get together, play tournaments and socialise, the new facility was also designed with business investment and job creation in mind.

Edwin explained: “Esports has come a long way in a very short space of time and it is now a major up and coming attraction.

“One of the reasons why we have set up in Middlesbrough is because the area has a well-established and growing games development industry with companies like Double 11 and others.

“The VIP area which we have set up was actually suggested by some of the people in the industry here because they wanted a place to network, to get together and exchange ideas and, potentially, recruit members of their future workforce.

“The venue will also enable them to do things like test out games at an early stage with gamers.”

Edwin explained that the venue and the work of The Wired Lobby was also designed to help nurture the next generation of developers and esports participants.

He said: “We went there because we were aware that the College was going to be putting esports on its curriculum and were looking to set up a dedicated esports room.

“We have advised them on how to set up the room and we will also be offering access to The Wired Lobby for students.

“They have been really helpful to us so far and we understand that interest in their esports course is already huge.”

Middlesbrough College’s ‘Esports Academy’ will offer elite level gaming to some of its students.

As part of the College’s Games Development programmes, students will have the opportunity to be selected to join the MC Esports Academy where they will study a Level 3 Certificate in Esports in addition to their full-time programme, meaning they will finish the programme with the equivalent of 4 A Levels.

The Wired Lobby will be providing work placements at its venue for Middlesbrough College students with apprenticeships a possibility in the longer term.

The venue will also be holding seminars and workshops on esports as well as providing opportunities for students to get to know some of the games development companies in the area and to explore other parts of the esports world.

Edwin Ford said: “There so many opportunities within esports, not just on the games and content development side or as a professional esports player but also in areas like esports marketing, business development and finance.”

Matt Telling, Group Director: Business Engagement and Partnerships at Middlesbrough College Group, said: “Edwin and the team at The Wired Lobby have been generous with their time and fantastic with their ideas of how we can work together.

“We hope that this partnership will help to open up a world of possibilities for our students within one of the fastest growing and most popular leisure and entertainment sectors.”

As one of the largest colleges in the North East, Middlesbrough College offers a range of vocational and academic courses in every occupational sector area, from entry level through to Level 7 postgraduate qualifications.

The College’s mission is to provide education and skills that enhance the region’s economic and social prosperity. Its £100m campus is home to more than 1,000 staff and has a student population of over 15,000, including around 2,000 apprentices.

The Wired Lobby team and Matt Telling outside centre

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