Futures First Gaming, a Education and esports company focused on bringing Black and brown kids into technology and entrepreneurship through esports. FFG is an approved workforce development partner through the Delaware Department Of Health and Social Services, where the company pays kids ages 14-18 for a 12-month training program through Futures First Gaming.
In a world where esports is at an all-time high, Futures First Gaming arrives at the perfect time. The Black-owned gaming company was started in Wilmington, Delaware by three black men, Stephen Sye, Malcolm Coley, and Newdy Felton.
CTO and co-founder Malcolm Coley ,and the team at Futures First Gaming, made it their mission to train under-resourced kids for gaming industry jobs, simultaneously making Delaware a hub for esports.
Malcolm.Coley states, “Futures First Gaming is an esport education company focused on bringing Black and Brown kids into technology and entrepreneurship through esports.”
Established in early 2020 alongside Malcolm Coley’s partners Newdy Felton and Stephen Sye, FFG is unique in its own way.
The startup has been working to change the terrain, throwing local esports tournaments, building esports teams in high schools and educating students and parents, and giving opportunities to gamers, designers, and coders.
FFG launched its flagship Pandamonium event in December of last year, taking over 2 days, 6 sports, and 6 games with tournaments and panels speaking volumes to today’s current issues.
Whether it’s teen violence or those who are less fortunate, FFG uses their platform for the greater good. An approved workforce development partner through the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, FFG is now paying kids ages 14 to 18 for a 12-month training program.
AllHipHop: Where are you from originally?
Malcolm Coley: I’m from New Jersey. I was born and raised in New Jersey, this little town called Salem. There’s two places where I became me: growing up where I was from Salem, NJ and going to college at Seton Hall University in south orange, NJ, where I got my chemistry degree. That had a critical role of me becoming me, then moving down to Delaware had a even more of a critical role in me becoming the person I am today.
AllHipHop: How so?
Malcolm Coley: All these places helped develop my ability to articulate my vision and execute on my goals. The entrepreneurial spirit I have today started in Salem with my dad and my grandfather being ultimate hustlers, watching them everyday. Seton Hall helped me to become aware of how things outside of my small town worked, Delaware exposed me to how I could elevate in business and networking.
AllHipHop: When did you first get the idea for Futures First Gaming?
Malcolm Coley: There’s three of us. I’m the CTO of Futures First Gaming, my boy Stephen Sye is the CEO, and my boy Newdy Felton who’s the chief marketing officer. Together, we created Futures First Gaming. Really what happened was, myself and Newdy have a marketing company called Influencers Lab Media. We had the chance to go to a dinner that Steve was putting on for his prior job, an award ceremony for people who had businesses. Basically those businesses had won a pitch competition, so it was an award ceremony.
We looked for the only black person we could see. [laughs] When we found him, we honed in on him. He said “yo, let’s meet up. Let’s talk.” A couple of months later, we actually linked up and talked. He’s into gaming, we’re into gaming, let’s talk about this even further. Fast forward to February of 2020, prior to Covid, we said “let’s go ahead and do this.” We put the business together, Futures First Gaming.
AllHipHop: What’s the premise of the company?
Malcolm Coley: Man, this is a good one. We’re literally creating a pipeline for education opportunities, career pathways, technology careers, professional esports players, entrepreneurship. We’re paving the way for entrepreneurship because gaming is a huge huge huge thing, esports is a $200 billion dollar industry. Nobody in Delaware is doing what we’re doing, literally no one.
AllHipHop: What’s your love for video games?
Malcolm Coley: It’s a crazy reality for me because as a young boy coming up, my mom always used to tell me “boy, if you don’t get off that game!” I couldn’t even play my game until 12 o’clock, my mom wouldn’t let me play my game in the morning, she said “you gotta wait until 12 o’clock.” I remember so many days in the summertime waiting until 12pm, so I could play my game. I still remember the day my mom had walked into the house with a Nintendo and I played Zelda. I had the gold Zelda, till this day I wish I had kept it. That’s one of the first games I played that really opened me up.
The main game that really opened me up to video games was Final Fantasy VIII, on PSone, that was my game. I know for a fact I put in 60 to 80 hours on that game in high school. Fast forward 20 years, who would’ve known my love for video games would have turned into a whole business that I can monetize? Not only monetize but make an impact in giving these black and brown kids opportunities they’ve never seen before.
AllHipHop: What does it mean to be a black-owned company?
Malcolm Coley: It’s everything. When you talk about being a Black person in this 2021 landscape, it’s difficult. We deal with institutionalized racism, marginalization, all types of oppression in all ways, shapes and forms. For us to be in a position to build an black-owned company in a thriving industry, also be in a space to make waves in this industry, I almost don’t have a word to describe it because I never imagined I’d do anything like this.
I’m a super techie, I spent 3 years at Apple. That opened my eyes up to the power of technology and how it impacts people’s lives.
AllHipHop: What were you doing at Apple?
Malcolm Coley: I was a basic associate. I was on my way to becoming an expert at Apple, which was a position that was next level Apple associate. I was so good that they were about to ship me off to California to the mothership, that’s what we called the headquarters for Apple. I was on the retail side, but I wanted to see how the business side worked. I was really good at what I did at Apple. Being at Apple for those years really opened me up to the power of technology, what technology could do for people and the things it was already doing for people with these products.
For me, I’m team Apple all day everyday, but it’s not limited to Apple because technology overall is enhancing the lives of people. We don’t leave our house without our phones. Being at Apple opened my eyes to the wonders of technology. Ever since then, I wanted to be part of it in my own way. esports is an amazing way for me to be a part of something I love.
AllHipHop: How was it throwing your first event in December, Pandamonium?
Malcolm Coley: It was an amazing experience because #1 not only was it the first one for the company, but it was the first one for me. I’d never done anything like that before. We had six tournaments, 3 panels. For us to be in a space to pull that of, produce something of that caliber at home — because of Covid, we did it at home — it was mind-boggling to me. It lets me know I haven’t even tapped to my full potential yet.
Me tapping into my full potential helps me even make more of an impact on the demographic we’re serving. Yo, I’m just a Black kid from New Jersey. I tell people all the time to put things in perspective: if I can do it, you can do it to. That event was “man Malcolm, you really come a long way. You really put some things together, and now it’s time for the next level.” We can take it to the next level, I know we are.
AllHipHop: Any goals for the company?
Malcolm Coley: We definitely want to be in a space where we’re having high level esport tournaments and conferences all across the nation. We’re developing a non-profit right now where we want our FFG programming in every school, K-12 across the nation. Building and feeding that pipeline to bigger and better opportunities. We want to partner with these bigger companies where we can give our people the opportunities, #1 the awareness that exists, then being able to be the conduit to these opportunities that exist through technology. With your AT&Ts, your Googles, those bigger tech companies, we want to be the conduit to those careers.
We want to let people know that we’re entrepreneurs. If you want to go the entrepreneurship route, we want to show you that too. We want to always be in a space where we’re innovating, pushing the envelope. We’re creating new tech, creating new games. We’re creating an ecosystem of sorts whereas gaming is the epicenter of what it is we’re doing. We definitely want our Futures Dome across the nation.
What’s included in that is workforce development, high level gaming tournaments, a place where people can come and casually game, pushing the envelope in tech, innovation, and gaming. It’s all that and more. Our goal is definitely being in a position where we can partner with bigger companies, so we could tell people this is real and you can do it.
AllHipHop: What are your plans for the future?
Malcolm Coley: It’s like Pinky and the Brain, try to take over the world. That’s where I’m at with it. [laughs]. Right now, we want to make Delaware the crème de la crème place when it comes to esports and tech. We want to make Delaware the mecca for esports. Not only that, we want to implement our programming. We have a FFG where we teach coding, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, mental health awareness, marketing and branding.
We want to be in a space where our programming is in every single school, community center across the nation. We can take all Black and Brown kids and put them in a space where they can do this. Not only be professional gamers, content creators, or entrepreneurs, but they can create tomorrow’s technology. We want to empower them to do that. My goal’s to make an impact to black and brown people across the nation with esports and technology.
Listen, I call Grouchy Greg, Double G. He’s my big brother when it comes to all this techie s### because he’s a beast. Being able to have people like that around me and being able to make an impact with what I can do, this is an amazing thing. When you talk about gaming, gaming intersects with so many things in pop culture, fashion, hip-hop, technology, all types of stuff. Gaming’s where it’s at right now.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Malcolm Coley: September 18th is our fall brawl. We’re partnering with a movie theatre here in Wilmington, Delaware at Penn Cinema Riverfront. We have a partnership with a company called Harena Data where we’re in position to qualify our participants for scholarships to 63 universities through what’s called the esports combine. The best kids out of the nation have the opportunity to compete for a scholarship, it’s an amazing thing. Being in a space to make that type of impact with our events and our programming is an awesome thing.
December Pandemonium Part Two will be here, definitely look out for that. We’re going to be having a plethora of tournaments, a plethora of new shows about to come out through FFG. We’re really embracing gaming, pop culture, fashion, and current events, hip-hop, sports, culture, all that. Look out for those coming. I want everybody to follow me on all my social medias. I’m the same everywhere: @malcolmlocs all over.
AllHipHop: Any last words for Grouchy Greg?
Malcolm Coley: Shoutout to both of them! My man Double G, he’s a pioneer in this space. Shoutout to Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur (being my frat), they’re both pioneers in the space. They’ve given me much much much advice over the years. They’re always putting me in the right direction, always putting me in the space to get more opportunities. They’re overall genuinely good guys and they’re legends in this game. I want to always give them their flowers while they are around to receive them. This is me giving Chuck and Double G their flowers while they’re still here. Malcolm appreciates both of y’all.