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December 08, 2020

2021 ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will take place virtually on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021

In partnership with several companies and universities MetArena is thrilled to announce 2021 ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo, the first-ever, virtual conference of its type. The event will feature speakers representing for-profit and nonprofit corporations within the esports and gaming ecosystem, including Riot Games and Intel. MetArena will also publicly reveal its new community esports platform during the event. 

The Accessing Sources to Catalyze Esports/Gaming Needs & Diversity (ASCEND) HBCU Conference will enable Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) students, faculty, staff, and constituents across the nation to gain insight into the esports and gaming field while interacting with industry executives. 

The ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will present a unique collective opportunity for faculty, staff, and students representing St. Petersburg College (SPC), as well as two HBCU institutions: Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) and Morgan State University (MSU). These institutions will partner with SPC, to execute various aspects of the event’s production. Strategically timed to take place approximately two days before Super Bowl LV opens in Tampa, FL, ASCEND HBCU Conference will unite the gaming and sports industries to share opportunities in the overlap that exists between gaming/esports and other traditional career paths. 

"This timely virtual conference will shine a light on possible career opportunities in esports and the gaming industry,” said Chad Mairn, St. Petersburg College, Innovation Lab | Learning Resources. ”Attendees will learn about the growing list of available jobs, how blockchain technologies are used, and discover strategies to help open doors into these exciting industries." 

At its core, the ASCEND Conference seeks to increase support for STEAM education in low-income communities and improve financial inclusion for underrepresented innovators. Although the esports and gaming industries are growing rapidly, only 2% of professionals in the gaming industry identify as African Americans, while 83% of African American teens play video games weekly (compared to 72% of the same age group). 

“In 2017, the non-profit organization Prosperity Now estimated that the median wealth of the Black community will fall to zero by 2050. The Black community over-indexes as consumers of gaming and esports, but is grossly underrepresented as value creators in the $174B gaming industry,” said Marcus Howard, CEO of MetArena. “This conference is critical in preparing the Black community to build generational wealth in a digital economy.”

This event is also designed to include the Latinx community, which has many of the same socioeconomic challenges as the Black community and represents a significant percentage of students enrolled at HBCUs. The Latinx community also represents 13% of gamers in the US, the second-highest gaming demographic in the country. 

"As the first HBCU to boast an Esports and Gaming Trifecta: Esports and Gaming Management academic program/Certificate program, Esports Lab, and Esports Club/Game Development Club, we are elated to be a viable part of this historic Conference, which we believe will singlehandedly transform the esports and gaming landscape one HBCU and one controller at a time,” said Dr. BerNadette Lawson-Williams, Advisor of JCSU’s Esports and Gaming Trifecta, which is housed in the University’s Metropolitan College of Professional Studies.

The ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will be hosted in a blockchain ecosystem. Thanks to support from GAME Credits, the world’s first gaming cryptocurrency, this digital event will be hosted in Decentraland. Simply by attending, HBCUs will be introduced to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. 

“This marks a historic first with an esports event of this size being hosted in a decentralized metaverse and may well open the door for more esports companies to adopt the virtual world,”   added Jason Cassidy, CEO of GAME Credits. 

In addition to industry insight and exposure to career opportunities, ASCEND Conference attendees will be eligible to win prizes for themselves and on behalf of their institutions sponsored by Codeboxx, a 16-week accelerated technology bootcamp. The HBCU with the highest percentage of participants will win two PS5 and two Xbox Series X consoles, each including one television and four controllers, for its esports lab. Codeboxx will also hold a raffle for free tuition to their bootcamp.

“CodeBoxx believes that Smart is Everywhere and we have demonstrated this by jumpstarting the technology careers of many individuals from various backgrounds, with little or no coding experience,” said Nicolas Genest, CEO at CodeBoxx Technology Corporation. "We are proud to put the CodeBoxx community at work for the ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo because we know that cognitive potential is evenly distributed in our world, but opportunities are not. CodeBoxx exists to tilt the scale back to balance.”

Instructions on registering for the event are below. While this free event is designed to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), it’s open to the public, and people from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend. For more information regarding the ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo, contact Marcus Howard



The ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will be hosted in a blockchain ecosystem. If you do not already have a crypto wallet, you will need to create one prior to registering. Follow these simple steps to create a crypto wallet and register for the event:

  1. Go to
  2. Scroll down, and click “Want To Go”.
  3. Download “Metamask” to your web browser or phone.
  4. Open “Metamask” in your browser extensions or phone.
  5. Create and confirm your password.
  6. View and confirm your security phrases.
  7. Repeat steps one and two.