The Goose House: How A Happy Accident Hatched One Of VALORANT's Biggest Communities
Those of us in the gaming community have always seemed to yearn for friendships, companions, and communities to form bonds with. This became more prevalent than ever in 2020, when the world came to a halt. Music in clubs went silent, the floodlights lit empty sports fields, and the pizzerias tossed no dough. It was then that the LEDs of TVs provided more than just entertainment, and in games like VALORANT, where communication and confidence are key, a wealth of new online societies were born.
During a global pandemic that put us all under lock and key, the heat of a controller replaced the physical touch of friends, and where the jeers of table-side banter were sidelined, the wails of "wow" came in as a replacement to celebrate the latest-round winning clutch.
Here, a simple invitation to play again was like a lifeline, and that's where The Goose House revelled. Unlike many gaming organisations and hubs, there's no money-grabbing business entrepreneur, but rather just a couple of gamers who wanted to play again, and a simple invitation to re-queue has accidentally hatched the biggest VALORANT community in the UK.
Hatched In A Pandemic
For The Goose House, it was as simple as that. A group of soon-to-be locked down CS:GO and VALORANT players looking to enjoy the presence of a friend, while developing their skills to become better players.
"The Discord was born in the pandemic, prior to lockdowns, it was like 20-30 of us occasionally playing games," said Dan Ellis, CEO. "When VALORANT came out, all my friends were all better than me, so I needed to find new people to play with. So I decided to open the server up to the public."
"At the time it was called GYG Esports (Gen Y Gaming). The server grew rapidly because it became the hub to find others to play VALORANT with, so I started doing a weekly friendly tournament. Dave [Taylor], who I knew from years ago, approached me and explained he used to run a team, and perhaps we could give it another shot. Initially, I said no, but a few weeks later I was convinced. We then rebranded to The Goose House. It’s all basically a happy accident."
From A Gaggle To A Flock
The happy accident saw The Goose House grow from a gaggle of geese to a flock within a few weeks, with a range of events held regularly to keep players entertained and engaged. The constant 10-mans lobby in VALORANT continues to thrive, while Friday party nights bring together those still too shy to reach back into the wider world. Weekly tournaments also keep the spirit spicy, while the heads of the organisation are hard at work partnering with the likes of Red Bull and Riot Games to offer their services for event planning.
"Growth is important, in a sense of the individuals within the community and also the volunteers who spare time to help us run our events and activities," continued Dan. "For the community, it’s a place to network and improve your VALORANT skills and for our volunteers, there are times we offer valuable esports work experience which can lead to paid roles either via us, freelance or having something extra to put on the CV."
But what holds them back from becoming a renowned worldwide organisation? Well, in a UK space where esports organisations are being backed by David Beckham and Usain Bolt, sponsorships and collaborations are slim pickings.
"Unlike other organisations, we have never had investors and any sponsorships we've received have gone straight back into the community. Other orgs out there with thousands or millions in investment have approached us, asking if they could 'collaborate' or something, so we know that we’re definitely making noise out there, we just need someone to write us a cheque so we can do this full time. Because, right now, it’s a hobby," Dan explained.
Making A Splash In The Pond
With hungry beaks comes plenty of opportunities to splash in a bigger pond, and The Goose House now has the opportunity to build upon their community by pairing with some esports giants. As well as becoming a hub for players to simply play, they are now running events for the likes of Riot Games, using volunteers in the community to develop online skills and event management.
The organisation has recently become quite the pioneer for women's competitive VALORANT, having hatched "Birds of Prey", a community tournament that has raised thousands of pounds in prize money to allow a Game Changers-esque atmosphere to be born.
"Our women’s VALORANT tournament is probably our biggest success. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and I was constantly encouraged to do so by our esports events manager, Meg," Dan said.
"Giving women in gaming more opportunities to get high-level experience is very important to their development and evolving the landscape of esports. BoP often gets a lot of praise and aside from VCT Game Changers, is probably THE tournament for women in VALORANT."
Having caught the attention of Red Bull, Birds of Prey has since been sponsored by the brand, as the best women's teams in the world have begun competing under the guidance of The Goose House, including Guild X and TENSTAR Nova.
With a fourth instalment of the tournament in the pipeline, The Goose House is now partnering once again with Riot Games to be the legwork behind the recently announced Beacon Series. The UK and Ireland regional leagues sit beneath the VCT in the competitive pyramid and will be leaning on the talons of the community, as Dan explained if Riot didn't come knocking, they would have made themselves.
"It will benefit TGH as this is something that might be attractive to potential investors and future sponsors," explained Dan, adding, "As we’re the largest VALORANT community in Europe, it was a no-brainer for us to participate in this."
Other titles such as League of Legends, Modern Warfare 2, and Minecraft are also in the eye line of The Goose House, who are now looking to bring this joy from the VALORANT sphere over to more communities in need of a place to call home.
It's important not to get caught up in their splashes though. First and foremost The Goose House centralises around a core group of gamers who have found a home in one of the loneliest times we've ever faced. "A lot of social butterflies needed their engagement and even those who may be considered introverted started to come out of their comfort zones and engage with people they never thought they would," Dan concluded, rounding off what The Goose House is actually about, behind all of the growth and success.
Players want to play, sometimes all it takes is a simple invitation to accidentally hatch a community and subsequently provide gamers with a home (or coop).