Microsoft and Special Olympics team up to make esports a lot more inclusiv

Esports has taken a huge step forward on the inclusivity front thanks to a new initiative from Xbox. The gaming giant has announced a new partnership with the Special Olympics. One of their first goals will be setting up the global-minded Gaming for Inclusion esports tournament.

Xbox and the Special Olympics have something of a history, with the tech company first stepping up to empower Special Olympics athletes in 2014. That led to a Special Olympics USA Games-sanctioned Xbox Gaming Tournament in 2018, and a COVID-19 Special Olympics Xbox Virtual Gaming Event last year.

The Gaming for Inclusion esports tournament expands the scope to countries around the world.

From September 12-14, Special Olympics athletes will be given the chance to fire up the Xbox and compete in Madden NFL 22, Rocket League, and Forza Motorsport 7. On September 18 Special Olympics celebrity supporters like the NBA’s Jayson Tatum, NFL’s Jamaal Charles will play alongside Special Olympians, as well as members of the WWE.

With COVID-19 continuing to alter life as we know it, Gaming for Inclusion will take place online. In a press release Xbox spokeswoman Jenn Panattoni said the multi-day, multi-game esports tournament will be designed to connect and engage esports athletes of all abilities from the global community.

“We’re ecstatic to build upon Microsoft’s partnership with Special Olympics, which first began in 2014, to further focus on gaming and host Gaming for Inclusion,” she said. “At Xbox, our goal is to make gaming inclusive and welcoming to all players so that everyone can experience the joys of gaming. This tournament is a meaningful and important step in making esports more accessible and it empowers Special Olympics athletes with a new way to compete.”

Bracket-style competition will take place on Microsoft’s Smash.gg platform. A champion will be crowned for each of the tournament’s games.

Moving forward, the goal is to give Special Olympics Programs the tools and know-how to set up local tournaments through Smash.gg. That will not only give Special Olympians a means to practice throughout the year, but also gear up for Gaming for Inclusion 2022.

Here’s the schedule for the upcoming Gaming for Inclusion esports tournament, which can be live-streamed on both Xbox’s Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel:

  • Sunday, September 12: Rocket League Tournament
  • Monday, September 13: Forza Motorsport 7 Tournament
  • Tuesday, September 14: Madden NFL 22 Tournament
  • Saturday, September 18: Celebrity Showcase with winners from tournaments earlier in the week

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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