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SDSU collaborates with Project Quipu for Research on Tribal Video Game Participation

Updated: May 14, 2022

The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at SDSU to support first-ever survey of Video Gaming Participation in American Indian Tribal Communities

March 14, 2022

San Diego State University is launching a national survey on American Indian tribal participation in Video Games and Esports.

The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming in the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is funding this pilot project by incoming Assistant Professor Dr. Brandon Mastromartino that will help the University, the Sycuan Institute as well as tribal communities understand the breadth and depth of video gaming participation across Indian Country.

“This project with Project Quipu to gauge the scope of participation in video games and esports in Indian Country extends the Sycuan Institute’s commitment to produce academic research related to tribal government gaming and to engage in public policy work related to tribal return on community and nation building,” said Dr. Katherine Spilde, Endowed Chair of the Sycuan Institute. “Of course, the findings and publications from this collaboration will also contribute to the Institute’s engagement with new forms of gaming and help us better support tribal youth and communities connect across Indian Country’s geographic barriers.”

“I am excited to bring my experiences with sports management to this new project at SDSU and to work with the Sycuan Institute, AISES and PQ on extending their reach into the global sports community,” said Dr. Mastromartino. “This research can ultimately benefit tribal youth and education efforts as well, which align with the historic investment by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation to create the Sycuan Institute with a focus on tribal nation building through tribal gaming and other games.”

The SDSU survey will be collaborative and builds on an earlier survey conducted in partnership with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) to interview their members about video game participation and connectivity. Through its partnership with Project Quipu, AISES will help distribute the survey and use the results to determine the ways in which video gaming can improve education efforts for tribal youth. “Identifying the nuances of Video gaming and Esports among Tribal youth is innovative,” said Sarah EchoHawk, CEO at AISES. “Esports continues tremendous growth with its popularity rising among youth in Tribal/Indigenous communities. This survey will help to understand the motivation, excitement, experience, and influence esports has within our young Tribal/Indigenous video gaming community. It is an unprecedented opportunity, and we are to eager launch the survey. Thanks to Project Quipu, the Sycuan Institute, San Diego State University, and others for their partnership.”

“I am looking forward to the outcomes of this historic collaborative project and to better understanding ways to address the geographic isolation of tribal communities,” said Project Quipu co-founder Hai Ng. “I look forward to working with the Sycuan Institute to extend their work on tribal government gaming into the video gaming ecosystem and to encourage tribal youth to pursue careers in this thriving global industry.”


The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming (SITG) was endowed in 2005 by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation at the San Diego State University. The Institute is the only one of its kind to focus on research, policy studies, and education related to the growing field of tribal gaming management. Centered in the largest tribal gaming community in the world, the Sycuan Institute is geared to studying tribal gaming within the broader industry of hospitality and tourism management while also exploring the unique ways that tribal governments balance return on investment with return on community through nation building efforts.

Project Quipu (PQ) is a New Jersey nonprofit corporation that aims to utilize video gaming, competitive gaming, and esports as a vehicle to enhance cultural and social cohesion and to create new career and economic opportunities with and between American Indian Tribal Nations in the United States. Project Quipu comprises a growing number of academics, entrepreneurs, and esports professionals, drawing on their various professional backgrounds to provide comprehensive insight to its partners and clients.

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is a national nonprofit organization focused on substantially increasing the representation of Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers. This robust nonprofit currently supports individual student and professional members across the U.S. and Canada in critically needed STEM disciplines. Through chartered college and university chapters, professional chapters, tribal chapters, and affiliated K-12 schools, members benefit from diverse STEM-focused programming that supports careers and promotes student success and workforce development in multiple crucial areas.

The survey can be accessed here.


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