Meet the Founders: Mark & Emily Kilpatrick - Newtown Moms

If you have a child who loves gaming, you’ve most likely heard of Affinity Esports. Owners and local parents, Mark & Emily Kilpatrick founded Affinity Esports almost 2 years ago on the principle of providing happy and healthier gaming experiences for all of their members. Along with their team, Mark & Emily provide a safe community meeting place for kids and teens to play games and interact with peers while increasing their problem solving skills. Children can opt for a variety of weekly classes, teams, camps, and open gaming time.

As a parent, I appreciate the knowledge and passion that both share for the gaming industry. They take the time to explain their programs to families, along with ensuring that their programs fit the bill for a “happier and healthier” gaming experience. We’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to get to know them a bit more!

Let’s start out finding out a little bit about you before we jump in to talking about Affinity Esports.

Child(ren) and Age(s)? We have two amazing little girls, Zoey (4) and Lily (2)!

Favorite things to do as a family? We love going out to eat and really taking part in anything that is new and unusual. We often visit local restaurants, breweries, and wineries. In particular, our girls LOVE going to the Sandy Hook Diner. Watching our girls light up over special family adventures is so much fun. Their minds and hearts are full of adventure, so whatever it is we are doing they find magic all around and it’s a great reminder for us that the world is full of opportunities. We also just like hanging out at home and the Studio. We’ve intentionally built a family and community centered business, so the girls have literally grown up with our home and Studio in Sandy Hook being integrated into their life. We don’t have to go far to find exciting ways to engage and enjoy those pieces of our life that are closest.

Favorite spot in Newtown? We love our regular visits to the parks (Dickinson and Treadwell) as well as our Brewery and Winery stops. Restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in town have also been fantastic! As special as these locations are and what they offer, it’s been the human connections and kindness we’ve experienced within the community through these locations and businesses that really stands out to us!

Best thing about being a dad (Mark) and mom (Emily)? For me (Mark) it’s being able to guide and support my little girls as I watch them grow and navigate challenges for themselves. Having two little girls who are empowered and provided the same opportunities as I was is paramount, so it’s so amazing to play that role in their life and also be able to introduce them and connect them with amazing female mentors that can provide them with guidance and new heights to work toward. Being a girl dad is beyond rad and I couldn’t be more grateful for that experience! And for me (Emily), I would say it is being able to watch how their personalities have developed and continue to grow. They are learning new things daily and in doing that they are also teaching me to be a better mom and person in general. I love watching their curiosity and sense of adventure and how they show their love for each other and those around them. Being their mom is the absolute best!

 Best thing about living in Newtown? We love our home, the surrounding areas, and exploring the community and greater exploration around Connecticut. That being said, it’s definitely the way the community has embraced us. We bought a non-traditional business and categorized within a heavily contested industry into a community as newcomers. And we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we were not prepared for how much love and support we have received throughout the process. It has been that experience and having a space that’s built on that kind of energy to raise our girls that’s been the best possible outcome for our landing in Newtown!

Can you tell us a bit about both of your backgrounds and work experience prior to founding Affinity? Well, we met in college down in Miami, so I guess that makes us college sweethearts! I (Mark) played soccer and studied graphic design in school. And I (Emily) was born and raised in Miami and studied studio art and art history at Barry University. We moved up to New York shortly after graduating and got stuck into the start-up scene. Mark with a fintech company he co-founded called Urban FT and Emily with Shutterstock. So we had the fortune of experiencing all that New York had to offer for nearly a decade. When the pandemic hit and Zoey was born it created a lot of reflection. That was when gaming came back into our lives and that paired nicely with our move to Newtown in May of 2021! The rest is history!

Can you share the story of how Affinity Esports came to be? Affinity Esports was founded in November 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, following our relocation to Newtown. In response to a noticeable lack of local gaming and esports resources, we launched our first studio in Newtown by April 2022, committed to enriching our home state and local community. This approach solidified the foundation for our mission to deliver safe, inclusive, and holistic gaming experiences. We transformed the concept of traditional gaming centers from mere recreational spaces to environments rich with structured programming. Our offerings include educational classes, competitive club teams, and engaging camps and workshops, all spearheaded by experienced adult mentors, instructors, and coaches. Through these efforts, we are so fortunate to play host to an exceptional community of gamers and advocates. We continue to be dedicated to increasing awareness, acceptance, and access to esports across the state in a way that promotes a healthier and more joyful gaming community.

Why did you decide to open your business? We recognized the transformative potential of gaming and esports, viewing it on par with traditionally celebrated activities like sports, music, and theater. Unfortunately, the majority of people did not, nor did they see how massive the industry had become. Our primary aim was to dismantle the prevalent negative stigmas surrounding gaming, often based on outdated or poorly supported research, and to highlight the positive impacts of this engaging activity. And there was no better place to start that right here at home!

How can parents find out more about your programs? Parents can find out about our programs on our website at or by visiting our Linktree at to find direct links, access to our Discord server, and links to all of our social accounts.

Do you offer any open houses or trial classes? We encourage everyone who is unsure or uncertain to schedule a tour with us. We have had the most success with new parents when they take the time to come in and have a discussion. That allows us to meet you and your children, and understand the areas of interest (or areas of concern). We can then guide you to the programs we feel would be the best fit and help develop a plan for how that can evolve. You can schedule this trial by emailing us at [email protected] or calling/texting us at ‪(203) 290-1656‬! We also offer seasonal trials for our classes and club teams that happen in alignment with week one of those classes. Keep an eye on our website and LinkTree for up-to-date seasonal trial dates.

Best part of running a business in Newtown? The way the community embraces you, the support received from the town and other business owners. All of that has been beyond expectation. We feel supported and we feel as though the community that has been building is beyond invested in us as individuals and the success of the business. We came to Newtown and started a business wanting to bring something that could support the needs of the community. While we believe we’ve done that, we believe the community has delivered back to us tenfold. We are beyond appreciative.

To learn more about Affinity Esports, please visit their website. The studio is located at 27 Glen Road, Sandy Hook, CT.


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