Since 2014, Microsoft and civil society Special Olympics have worked together to empower Special Olympics athletes and programs through technology. Then, in 2018, we entered into a partnership with Special Olympics Games in the United States to organize the Xbox Video Game Tournament, the first in the world of competitive video games. Last year, in an effort to find innovative ways to support Special Olympics athletes while upholding the stay-at-home order, we teamed up for the Special Olympics 2020 Virtual Xbox Video Game Event. Now, we turn global with our joint efforts to launch the inaugural esports experience Gaming for Inclusion presented by Microsoft.
From September 12-14, Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners will compete in Rocket league, Madden NFL 22 Y Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox for a chance to play alongside famous Special Olympics fans, including NBA superstar Jayson Tatum; Jamaal Charles, the NFL legend; and WWE Superstars on September 18.
This experience is the next evolution of the award-winning Xbox Virtual Gaming Event that took place in May 2020, when Special Olympics and Microsoft collaborated on a virtual esports tournament to combat the effects of loneliness and isolation caused by the pandemic. The event earned Microsoft the Corporate Community Impact Award from the Sports Humanitarian Awards 2021 presented by ESPN for using its platform and the power of sport to create meaningful social change.
“COVID-19 and the suspension of hundreds of thousands of face-to-face events this year around the world forced Special Olympics to change to support virtual experiences,” said Prianka Nandy, Special Olympics director of information and technology. “Our digital transformation partners at Microsoft brought their expertise in developing scalable and accessible digital platforms that allow people of all abilities to connect with others through the universal language of video games. Together, we have shaped an innovative program that will last well beyond the pandemic. “
Special Olympics and Microsoft teamed up to host the inaugural Gaming for Inclusion esports experience to showcase the power of inclusion through video games. The virtual esports tournament that will span multiple days and multiple games, will engage and connect people of all abilities from around the world.
“We are excited to leverage Microsoft’s partnership with the Special Olympics organization, which began in 2014, to focus more on video games and introduce Gaming for Inclusion,” said Jenn Panattoni, Xbox Director of Social Impact. “At Xbox, our goal is to make video games inclusive and welcoming to all gamers, allowing them to experience the joy of playing. This tournament is a significant and important step in making video games more accessible and in empowering Special Olympics athletes with a new way to compete. “
All video game competition will take place through Smash.gg, Microsoft’s esports platform, in a bracket-style tournament that will crown the champions of each title. Follow the live broadcasts of the events in the Xbox Twitch channel and in that of Special Olympics YouTube:
- Sunday September 12: Tournament Rocket league
- Monday September 13: Tournament Forza Motorsport 7
- Tuesday, September 14: Tournament Madden NFL 22
- Saturday September 18: Celebrity Showcase with Tournament Winners earlier in the week.
Following the inaugural event, Special Olympics Programs will have training on how to host local tournaments through Smash.gg, allowing practice and competition throughout the year in preparation for the next tournament experience. Gaming for Inclusion in 2022.
Stay tuned to Xbox Wire en Español to find out all the details about Gaming for Inclusion and the athletes that will be competing!