Plans to turn derelict building into £4 million gaming hub in Whitehaven

The aim is to help young people develop digital and IT skills. Credit: ITV

Plans have been unveiled to turn a derelict building in West Cumbria into a gaming hub.

The new £4 million facility is set to develop the digital and IT skills of young people.

The gaming hub will give them the opportunity to gather and play games as well as find out about potential careers.

The project has had substantial funding from both BT and Sellafield and both organisations say that they are proud to support the project and its long-term aims.

The £4million facility will provide a unique opportunity to youngsters in West Cumbria. Credit: ITV

Mark Fryer leader of Cumberland Council said: “Sometimes people don’t understand what is happening, they think it is just going into a gaming hub but it isn’t. It is about the skills that you use that are going into industry so it is a really positive step forward for us."

Gary McKeating from Sellafield added: “You are going to get kids going in there having a great time but also learning new skills. That is what we need in west Cumbria and we need a diversity of skills."

The Whittles building was purchased by Building Extraordinary Communities (BEC) in 2021 and since then BEC has held extensive public consultations, garnering support from community members and local academia partners.

Those behind the project say that while in the past it was often dismissed by previous generations as a hobby for children, gaming can now be a viable and potentially lucrative career.

Gemma Leadbetter from Building Extraordinary Communities said: “Kids will be able to come and they will be able to learn coding, programming, they will be able to make their own podcasts.

"There is a really broad range of experiences that are on offer for them. That is as well as the augmented reality and virtual reality and esports around the gaming side. There is loads and loads of fun stuff to do."

Darren Power is a gamer and explains how the internet has helped develop people's interested in gaming.

The gaming industry can be a lucrative one for streamers. Credit: ITV

He said: "The industry in gaming has grown quite a lot. Especially with the likes of YouTube where people basically can record them playing games and put it on the internet."

Tony Marini is a senior specialist therapist and shared his concerns over micro-transactions that are commonplace in the industry.

He said: "A friend of mine's 14-year-old boy wanted to buy a skin and so he gave him his credit card number and when he got his bill in the next month, the young lad had spent £5,000 in that month."

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