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This founder is leveling the playing field for Black students in esports and gaming

Ryan Johnson, founder of cxmmunity - esports

In this episode of Diverse Disruptors, we talked to Ryan Johnson, founder of Cxmmunity. Cxmmunity is a startup that works to bring more minorities in to esports and the gaming industry.

When people hear these two words -- video games -- a lot of people think they are a waste of time. But what if I told you that I learned to program computers at the age of 9 thanks to video games. I also learned to take apart and troubleshoot my family’s home computer because of video games. Even Elon Musk owes his career to his love of video games.

You probably heard of the game "Animal Crossing." The Nintendo Switch title became the game that helped millions to deal with quarantine in the first few months of the pandemic in 2020. The game sold more than 31 million copies since March of 2020. Add that to the $180 billion in revenue that the video game industry made in 2020 according to Marketwatch. That amount makes gaming bigger than movies and North American sports combined

Then there is Roblox. If you are a parent, you have probably heard of it or even spent money on it for your child. Roblox recently listed shares on the NYSE and now has a value of around $42 billion according to Fortune magazine. And the CEO is now a billionaire. And that is all from a video game that attracts 32 million users a day. I even own a few shares of Roblox in my Roth IRA. And get this: There are kids making money on Roblox, enough to pay for their own college education. Still think video games are a waste of time?

What about esports? I know some of you don’t take the idea of playing video games as a serious sport. But you know who does? Colleges, corporations, brands and major media outlets do. Esports is global and growing fast. Colleges and universities are offering scholarships, players are getting sponsors just like top athletes in the NBA and NFL. Esports is building an entire ecosystem of opportunities including entrepreneurship, technology, marketing, entertainment, media, sales and more. 

But there is a huge downside to this growth and opportunity. People of color, especially Black people, are watching from the sidelines and being left behind. According to a Pew Research study, 83% of Black teenagers play video games compared to 71% of white teenagers. But only 2% of game developers identify as Black according to an International Game Developers Association survey.    

And that is where our guest, Ryan Johnson, comes in on this episode of Diverse Disruptors. Ryan is the founder of Cxmmunity, an organization whose mission is to increase the participation of minorities within the esports and video game industry. Cxmmunity has even partnered with the United Negro College Fund to increase student participation and build capacity for esports and gaming at HBCUs. Ryan has also recently partnered with Twitch to create an  HBCU esports league. I wanted to learn more about the work Ryan and Cxmmunity are doing in this space, but I also wanted to know how this aspiring sports physical therapist became such an advocate for more representation in gaming and esports.

Don't forget to follow Diverse Disruptors on your favorite podcast platform.

HYFIN Program Director | Radio Milwaukee