XSET’s Erin Ashley Simon brings esports opportunities to underserved and underrepresented talent

The popularity and market value of esports shows no signs of slowing down.

As the popularity of the industry continues to gain momentum, the market capitalization continues to rise. For example, Accenture estimated that the Total value of the gaming industry in 2021 exceeded $300 billion. This statistic is more than the movie and music markets combined, driven by an increase in mobile gaming and an emphasis on social interaction during the pandemic. Yet despite all the positive aspects of esports, it still lacks diversity. A recent report showed that 46% of players are women; however, only 20% are Latinx, 15% are black, and 5% are Asian American. Additionally, 16% are LGBTQIA. Companies like XSET are breaking down barriers and diversifying games.

Erin Ashley Simon, multimedia personality and co-owner of XSET, helps shape the culture of the organization and facilitates connections and content in and around the music, entertainment and games industry. As Director of Culture, she provides more industry-focused opportunities for people from underserved, underrepresented and marginalized communities. The company features some of the best competitive esports teams in the world in titles including Valorant, Rocket League, and Fortnite. He has partnered with big name brands such as Ghost Lifestyle and SCUF Gaming, also working with socially positive causes including Big Brother Big Sister of America.

“If we sign a non-binary player, I’m the one to educate everyone on the proper ways to identify the individual from their pronouns,” says Simon. “I also work on projects that focus on specific communities. We focused a lot on HBCUs. So I run these DNI projects, whether it’s from a charitable, educational or even entertainment point of view. I work with our team to make sure a lot of the projects, initiatives and milestones that we have have a very inclusive aspect to them. »

In high school, Simon started a blog titled Mess box. Initially, she covered music and fashion before moving on to interviewing high school basketball players. The players gave him exclusive insight into where they went to college, which bolstered his opinions in the national media. She landed places at The Wall Street Journal covering sports and Revolt TV. By the age of 25, she had secured senior positions as a producer.

Having played competitive football at a Division I college, she understood the world of athletics and how athletes can use their voice to drive change. With a sports background combined with a producer mindset, Simon knew she wanted to stay in the world of storytelling. In 2018, she was fired. She got involved and decided to become independent. She started covering the game at the intersection of pop culture. One day, his friend needed a co-host for her show and he asked Simon to join him, which catapulted her career.

“As a full-time freelancer, you never knew when the next paycheck was coming,” she expresses. “You always have to figure out what the next thing is. So I had to develop this resilient mindset of ‘Hey, there’s other things I need to do now that I never had to do when I had a nine-to-five and I had this comfort.’ I had to learn to accept the ups and downs of the industry.

While networking, Simon met gaming executives DJ Clinton Sparks, Marco Mereu, Wil Eddins and Greg Selkoe. Together they built XSET. They recently expanded the Erin Ashley Simon Esports Internship Fund at the University of Kentucky, designed for students interested in careers in gaming and esports. The fund has grown to $5,000, with XSET and Simon focusing on growing the fund in the years to come by attracting support from other businesses and influencers.

“This scholarship is special,” exclaims Simon. “It is set up to create an opportunity for students in financial need to gain experience in gaming and sports while undergoing education… I am delighted to develop it. I’m also excited to continue building esports gaming initiatives at the University of Kentucky because when I was a student-athlete there, they helped me so much to further my career in media and m have supported in so many different ways. so i want to go back to uk [University of Kentucky] and giving back to a state in a space that doesn’t really get that much attention when it comes to these opportunities because there’s so much amazing talent in that region.

As Simon continues to evolve in her career, she is focusing on the following key milestones:

  • Design a plan; determine what you want to do and the impact you want to have. This will help you come up with a workable strategy.
  • Be consistent in your actions. You won’t know if something will work or not if you don’t spend time on it. You need to dedicate at least three to six months before you see traction.
  • Don’t be afraid or feel like a failure if something doesn’t work out. Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward, applying what has worked for you.

“If I wanted to do something, my mother always let me do it,” concludes Simon. “She said, ‘It’s the only way to really find what you’re passionate about is to try; you can’t know unless you try. So you can’t be afraid. Nobody is really great when they start… I’ve always been very competitive. So I always wanted to be really good at whatever I do, and I wasn’t afraid of tripping up trying.

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