This week, gamers across campus will have an official physical space to create both real and virtual communities.
Located in the lower level of the University Community Centre, the university’s new eSports Arena offers 12 gaming stations, two dozen games and opportunities for team or independent play. But, according to organizers, the new space offers far more than just a suite of high-end gaming computers.
“Compared with going home to play video games in isolation, in the Arena, students not only enjoy our most powerful gaming facilities, but play among a community of fellow students,” said Hosham Alimorad, who manages the facility. “They participate in activities, interact personally, make friends, learn incredibly valuable skills that will help them inside and outside of the classroom – and have fun while doing it.”
The eSports Arena had a soft launch in October and has been well received by students, clubs and gamers alike.
The official opening at noon Wednesday will include four mini-tournaments of Fortnite and free gameplay for students.
In total, players can enjoy 23 games, of which the most popular are League of Legends, DOTA 2, Fortnite and Counter Strike.
Home to Western’s League of Legends team, the space will also be available for events and tournaments to bring groups together.
The cost to play is $5 per hour and $3 per half-hour, with plans to introduce a volume discount. It is open with daytime hours on weekdays.
The initial investment includes gaming stations, chairs and gaming licences – the cost leveraged through established relationships with computer equipment vendors.
The arena is operated by the Campus Computer store as a Western Retail Services initiative in the division of Housing and Ancillary Services, and in partnership with the Western Electronic Gaming Association.
Alimorad said the main benefit is to draw together students with shared interests and build a greater sense of community – “a space on campus that students and gamers alike can hang out, take a break and enjoy some social time together.”