The University of California-Irvine (UC Irvine) will soon open its doors to an eSports arena, making it the first at a public university. Beginning September 23rd, the state-of-the-art space will host competitive video gaming teams and give communities access to high-end computers and consoles.
The new arena was built with feedback from the students. Mark Deppe, UC Irvine’s acting director of eSports, explained to Mashable, “We did a survey of our student body the last few months and we decided to load all the best games that people enjoy.” This included team titles like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm.
Construction of the space was built with financial support and consultation from Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends—the game that is also UC Irvine’s first recognized eSports team with scholarships, a coaching staff, and analysts. The arena is large enough for two teams of five to play against each other while a small crowd watches.
Because the arena is at a school, its activities have an academic slant. “We'll be working with our faculty doing research to advance to frontier of what we understand about gaming and gamers,” Deppe remarked. This includes giving students who have an interest in game casting the opportunity to hone their skills—just like those interested in the more conventional broadcast news or radio stations.
For those who aren’t part of the eSports team but still want to play, a portion of the arena will operate as a cafe. The public can pay $4 an hour to use the computer.