Note: This is a guest piece from Patrick Mahoney, CEO of We Are Nations
To quote the A-Team’s Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (the original television show, not the Hollywood reboot): “I love it when a plan comes together.”
As I’m hoping you all saw earlier this week, Adam Whyte from Edge.gg, Sam Cooke from Esports Insider, and a host of other folks announced You Are Not Alone. The event, which can be found at Yana.gg and @10milliongamers, aims to say ‘You Are Not Alone’ by uniting people through video games, promoting social distancing and fundraising for COVID-19 relief.
The event will host influencers, athletes, professional gamers, celebrities, and the wider gaming audience of all abilities, and will take place on Saturday, May 2nd between noon and midnight BST.
I first heard about the event a few weeks ago while catching up with Chris Smith from BIG Esports on a call. I was immediately drawn to the idea – similar events were being planned in the music space and there is no doubt that we all need unique ways to interact with each other these days. Besides, I figured, if we can all come together to enjoy the things we love and raise money for the bigger cause, it’s a no brainer. I asked Smith to introduce me to Whyte.
A few days later, the We Are Nations team and I was on a call with Whyte and his team. This was when we found out Cooke was involved. We already wanted in, but he sealed the deal. It’s ended up that We Are Nations is going to design event merchandise and figure out the best way to sell it online across the entire event platform. Also, they asked me to put together an online Zwift bicycle race as part of the programming. I made a few calls to some cycling esports teams and content producers and we are putting together a race with some of the best Zwift riders and maybe even some in real life ProTour that have had their season schedule impacted (just like everyone else).
Now to be clear, the point of this article isn’t about what We Are Nations is doing in this event. Of course, we hope we can help make a positive contribution, but the reality is that we are only a fraction of what’s being put together, basically on the fly, and being invented as it goes along. To put it another way, YANA is what I’ve been hoping would happen – making the best of a tricky situation and bringing people in gaming and esports together in ways that might not normally happen for a common cause.
Five years ago, the music side of our business got involved in a music festival called the Pilgrimage Festival. The idea was to put a musically eclectic festival on in Franklin, TN. It was to be more “high touch” and “experiential” than your typical music festival. We wanted to elevate the food and beverage, activities, and shopping experience to go along with the good music. First-year artists included Willie Nelson, Wilco, Sheryl Crow, and Weezer.
The festival was scheduled for the third weekend of September. I remember being in a meeting with the festival producers and core production staff in mid-July. Early in the meeting, we all collectively realized that we were pretty much way behind on everything we needed. We all panicked for a minute. But then, we all took a deep breath and started to figure it out. I found myself in the middle a crash course in event production, all of us did. But we collectively brought enough experience to the table to create a powerful shared-expertise. Together, we got it done. And assuming that we get back to normal later this year, we are planning the sixth Pilgrimage Festival as we speak.
YANA feels a lot like Pilgrimage did back in 2015. It’s a lot of people coming together to put on an event that maybe no one involved has strictly done on their own before. It’s creating shared expertise. The event is moving forward, and it’s a beautiful thing.
More of this, please.