An exciting element of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprise’s (RAFCTE) annual Royal International Air Tattoo has been repurposed this year with the help of Identity.

The overarching aim of the Virtual Air Tattoo, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, was to give viewers a flavour of the in-person event that was planned for 2020. This included virtual flying displays, interviews and never seen before footage, alongside added extras to ensure quality audience engagement and entertainment.

With the RAF’s Video Game and Esports Association (RAF VGEA) boasting more than one thousand members, Identity worked with this ingrained passion for esports and gaming to develop a unique experience for the two day, free to view live-streamed event.

A 90-minute live streamed, best of five Rocket League esports showcase between two RAF esports teams was produced. Backed by its extensive expertise in esports activations, broadcasts and sets, Identity delivered the creative ingenuity and entire production at a purpose-built, COVID-19 government guidance compliant broadcast studio in Bristol.

The event was MC’d by professional esports host Freya Spiers and then broadcast simultaneously via the RAF VGEA Twitch channel.

“The reach into esports came about because of the COVID-19 crisis,” said RAF Squadron Leader Nige Bell, “The Royal Air Force and our agency Identity were looking at alternative ways to gain an audience share in terms of events, and that naturally went into the virtual events aspect We looked at esports as that up-and-coming vehicle that individuals have an enthusiasm for, can do it in the Air Force and get paid for it.”

Esports is a good fit for the RAF. The gaming association is seen as a community and welfare benefit for their members with gamers and esports enthusiasts a key part of the RAF’s recruitment pipeline. Studies have demonstrated the cognitive benefits of computer gaming including an improvement in coordination, problem solving skills, memory, concentration levels, multi-tasking and brain speed, all elements vital to operating in an increasingly digital environment. Furthermore, control systems for modern aircraft are designed with the PlayStation generation in mind, and gamers have cyber-skills which make them useful recruits for careers in information and communications systems.

To deliver the event, Identity designed and produced a bespoke, RAF branded esports set that featured a 4-metre high LED backdrop, gamer desks, chairs, PCs, peripherals, host lectern, as well as 3-camera filming, AV, lighting, and cast and crew, all working seamlessly with social distancing requirements in place.

Rebecca McCreath, RAF Account Director at Identity, said, “Identity have been working with the RAF for over a year and together we have delivered some incredibly innovative solutions to enhance their events programme. Our close relationship with the RAF has been key. By ensuring we have a clear understanding of their objectives and target market we are able to effectively add value through identifying opportunities to uniquely position the RAF. When lockdown occurred we were able to be proactive in finding alternative routes to market for the client due and to present virtual solutions that we knew worked for both the end user and the RAF.”

Logistical consideration on traffic flow throughout the studio was planned meticulously, with separate green rooms for cast a crew and multiple sanitisation stations, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everybody involved.

“The RAF’s passion for esports is equal to our own,” said Shéa Bennett, Head of Strategy at Identity, whose son Joshua was a five-time European esports champion. “This was evident in early meetings regarding the Virtual Air Tattoo event, which aligned elegantly with our vast experience in virtual events delivery and our expertise in esports.”

Other elements of Identity’s virtual delivery package included behind the scenes footage of a life and career in the RAF, interviews and analysis. 

Identity is the lead digital events agency for the RAF, delivering hundreds of events per year. It scooped a Queen’s Award for International Trade earlier in 2020 and ranked in the latest Sunday Times Top 100 Fast Track companies. Identity works with blue chip clients, global brands and governments from around the world delivering exceptional live, virtual and hybrid events.