E-sports Arena UW
Calling All Gamers: Your new escape awaits
By Molly Slann
What was once the dream of a group of students has recently become a reality; after years of planning and construction, the Esports Arena in the HUB officially opened April 18. The backbone of this project has been student input and passion, creating a space to come together to share their love for esports with other like-minded individuals.
The arena, created with three main pillars in mind (community, career, and competition), provides a space for students, faculty, and members of the public to access 40 high-tech gaming computers.
“The community part of this is really important, with students coming together over a shared passion, developing a sense of belonging with real intentionality of equity and inclusion,” said Adam Serafin, assistant director of communications and development at the HUB.
There are many misconceptions associated with gaming and esports, including the belief that it’s not able to be pursued to a higher level and that playing is an insular experience. These misconceptions are usually due to a lack of understanding of gaming and its development from non-gamers. The students and staff behind the scenes of the new arena are really hoping to alter the misjudgments.
“I love what this space provides, it’s a great feeling to be here, and the aspect of playing with other people is something that you just don’t get at home,” said Eric Cohen, a Rocket League player for the Washington Gaming Association (WGA) and avid user of the esports arena.
There are many benefits to playing in the arena. No more missed tournaments because all of the teammates didn’t have access to a computer, a better team environment that allows you to “transcend traditional barriers,” and access to an interesting educational platform through gaming are just a few examples of these.
One of the main draws for students will be increased access to game bonuses and extras. These include a “Blizzard Cafe” which allows students to play any Blizzard game such as “World of Warcraft.” The students also get access to all characters and skins in the game “League of Legends.”
Everyone who registers will get one free hour of play, and after that, the cost for UW students is $3.50 per hour or $30 for 10 hours.
The arena is mostly targeted at students wanting to use it for recreational groups, but it is also the perfect space for research opportunities. The team is keen to get involved with academic departments in order to show that there are very few limitations to the majors that can get involved with gaming on multiple levels, whether it’s in the creation and coding of the game, the design of the user interface, the writing of the story, or the observation of how people interact with games.
“When we talk about esports, we’re thinking about game development, competition, and production, but I think it covers everything under the sun,” Will Nguyen, student and player of Overwatch for the WGA, who was involved in the development of the arena said. “You can think of every esports organization as its own little startup, its own little business. You need everything from graphic designers to business orientated people to programmers.”
“This space is a stepping stone to convincing people that gaming is more than just a fun pastime for some people,” Cohen said.
Although there are plenty of opportunities for RSOs to get involved at a competitive level, beginners are welcome. There will be workshops to help introduce players to certain games to familiarize them with the controls of play. If, however, you are interested in playing competitively or for a group event, it will be possible to reserve seats for your session.
Visit the Esports Arena any time the HUB is open: Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.