The second annual esports experience will include immersive leadership training for three Special Olympics athletes to become shoutcasters for the broadcast
Since 1968, Special Olympics has been on a mission to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities across the world by fostering acceptance through the power of sports. Here at Xbox, we're honored to partner with Special Olympics again for the second annual Gaming for Inclusion esports event, and to showcase the power of inclusion through gaming.
Following its successful debut in 2021, Gaming for Inclusion 2022 will bring together Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners to compete in Rocket League on Xbox and PC for the chance to play alongside Special Olympics celebrity supporters. This includes NFL legend Jamaal Charles, TikTok influencer and content creator vaultboy, and WWE Superstars in an upcoming Celebrity Showcase on September 17.
Gaming for Inclusion is a virtual, multi-day esports tournament giving people the opportunity to compete for something far greater than first place - the power of inclusion. The tournament will engage and connect people of all abilities from Canada and the United States.
For Xbox, the tournament is part of a larger goal to make gaming inclusive and welcoming to all players so that everyone can experience the joys of gaming. It is also a meaningful and important step in making esports more accessible by empowering Special Olympics athletes to compete in a new way.
"We're honored to again partner with Special Olympics International for the 2nd annual Gaming for Inclusion event this September," said Jeff Hansen, GM Strategic Brand Partnerships at Microsoft. "This year, Microsoft is empowering Special Olympics athletes to participate beyond the playing field by providing hands-on training as on-air talent to host and shoutcast in the tournament broadcast on the official Xbox Twitch channel. Microsoft is committed to supporting Special Olympics in their mission to be a movement led by athletes and raise awareness for people with intellectual disabilities across areas such as sports and leadership."
This year, Gaming for Inclusion will feature a leadership opportunity for three Special Olympics athletes to become esports shoutcasters and hosts for the Celebrity Showcase: Jose Moreno from Special Olympics Illinois, Amber Gertsch from Special Olympics Utah, and Ben Gregory from Special Olympics Indiana.
As a shoutcaster, each athlete will travel to Redmond, Washington for an immersive two-day training on Microsoft's campus where they'll develop skills from some of the best in esports. Through these trainings, Special Olympics athletes will learn how to analyze a game, provide commentary during a livestream, and interview athletes and celebrity guests.
"I appreciate Special Olympics and Microsoft for providing me with this incredible leadership opportunity to become a shoutcaster at this year's Gaming for Inclusion event," said Mr. Moreno who is also a Special Olympics Illinois Athlete Leader. "Gaming creates a common bond and a fun way to connect with people of all abilities around the world. I've made new friends through gaming because we love it, and anyone can play."
Bracket-style tournaments will crown champions for each Rocket League ranking. All gaming competitions will be hosted through Microsoft's esports platform Start.gg. Spectators can live stream the events on the official Xbox Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel :
Saturday, September 10: Rocket League Tournament
Saturday, September 17: Celebrity Showcase with winners from tournaments
"From the beginning of the inaugural Gaming for Inclusion virtual experience, we saw connections made and friendships developed among athletes with and without intellectual disabilities," said Chief Information and Technology Officer at Special Olympics Prianka Nandy. "Immediately, both Special Olympics and Microsoft knew this event would continue and get bigger and better because it truly embodies the power of inclusion. This year, thanks to our incredible partners at Microsoft, we are adding a unique leadership opportunity for some of our athletes to learn from some of the best in the industry and become shoutcasters during our Celebrity Showcase."
Don't forget to tune in to the Celebrity Showcase on September 17 on the official Xbox Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel to see who comes out on top! You can learn more about Special Olympics by following them across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, their official blog on Medium, and SpecialOlympics.org.