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Southwark in South London is the location of a test phase for a scheme organised by The Metropolitan Police’s Riverside Safer Neighbourhoods team. PROJECT GAMERZ invites anyone aged between 11 and 18, who live, or attend school, in the Riverside Ward of Rotherhithe, to get involved with their local community through Video Games and eSports. Video Gaming is the fastest growing form of media entertainment in the world, and eSports– electronic sports– is computer and videogames played as a competitive sport.

Riverside Safer Neighbourhoods team feel the scheme is a perfect forum to launch a fresh and innovative social network between young people, neighbourhoods and community centres. Sergeant Rob Evans of the Riverside team said:“The aim of the project is to enable young people to re-connect with their local community in a way that reflects their interests. By creating this social network we hope to encourage responsible participation across the age group, where we can also engage with local youngsters on policing and community issues that can affect them”.

The Metropolitan Police have enlisted the help of XLEAGUE.TV, the only broadcast outlet for eSports in the UK, who offer the opportunity to participate or view major sporting events in the virtual world– online and on TV . XLEAGUE.TV have brought together major brands such as Microsoft, EA Sports, Packard Bell to provide games, consoles, equipment and TNWA Group for the technical delivery and event management for the first phase of the scheme.

Ray Mia, Channel Head of XLEAGUE.TV said:“We were approached by The Metropolitan Police to use our unique expertise in scoping a community focused project, using video gaming as a tool to engage with local youth. We’ve consistently seen that online video gaming has a positive effect on bringing young people together, and provides a platform that builds focus, teamwork, leadership and confidence. Phase 1 puts the building blocks in place to positively utilise these trends.”

“Online Gaming is already a significant recreational activity and is only set to grow in the future,” said Paul Sulyok, CEO of TNWA Group.“People love playing computer games, but playing with your friends adds a whole new level of excitement. In PROJECT GAMERZ we create a safe, controlled, environment in which kids can explore problem solving, communication, strategy and teamwork. This is a modern approach that which will appeal to today’s youth culture.”

PROJECT GAMERZ is a collective effort between partners in the Games Industry, Media and Local Government to build a strong connection and establish a positive dialogue with the youth of today. Phase 1 of PROJECT GAMERZ is currently taking place at The Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey and will run until March 28th 2008, with future phases of the scheme rolling out on a larger scale across venues within the London Borough of Southwark.

Jason Fletcher, Marketing Manager for Packard Bell said:“Once we heard about PROJECT GAMERZ we had no hesitation in being part of this innovative program. Packard Bell has only been part of the growth in eSports for a short period of time, but we are encouraged by the positive attitude and competitive team play aspects of eSports on the youth of today.”

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