The Esports Gaming Lab is temporarily moved to the Badlands Room
The North Dakota State University Esports Gaming Lab is expanding to accommodate the growing interest in gaming on campus. The gaming lab, previously in Thunder’s game room, has temporarily been moved until a new space is renovated for students. Gaming on campus organizations use this space and participate in regional competitions.
The Esports Gaming Lab was first opened 3 years ago and started with 16 computers. The Memorial Union staff tried to utilize the space in Thundar’s Game Room. “Very quickly we found out that there was not enough room down in that space for most of the student organizations and groups that wanted to use it,” said Director of the Memorial Union Paul Wraalstad.
Two student organizations are currently using the space. Three more organizations are being formed and will be official organizations by the end of fall. “So a total of 5 will be utilizing the space, all esports teams,” said Coordinator of Thundar’s Game Room Joe Cleys. The space is open both for these organizations, but also available for any students to use throughout the day.
The gaming lab “has computers designated specifically for gaming specs,” said Cleys, “they have higher CPU’s, more essential brain power to play the games that require some higher mechanics in order to function.”
The esports teams compete locally and nationally. “All of our teams compete in regional championships, they all attempt for nationals,” said Cleys. The popularity of these organizations on campus is increasing and attracting more players. The more active organizations on campus have around 20-30 players at their regular meetings. The growth of esports has outgrown the space in the Memorial Union.
Esports are going in popularity and expanding in higher education. “Esports is one of the fastest growing areas in higher education right now,” said Wraalstad, “it is really picking up all over the country.”
The space in the Memorial Union also did not have enough cooling capacity. “So when you got 16 computers plus 16 gamers in there it gets very warm, very quickly,” said Wraalstad.
These organizations were partnering with a local business called Section 9, which was a ecafe close to campus. Although last winter this was permanently closed, which left organizations without a large enough space to cater to all their members. Last spring the student organizations approached Memorial Union Staff about a new space.
These student organizations, Student Government and Memorial Union staff brought forward a proposal to expand the space and provide renovations to cater to the NDSU students.
While details for the new space are being decided, the esports equipment has been moved to the upstairs of the Memorial Union in the Badlands room. This temporarily will offer students more space for this academic year.
Decisions about the new gaming room are still being made. They will either renovate the space in Thundar’s game room or they will find another space on campus to relocate the gaming lab.
“Now that we have badlands as a sort of a temporary home it gives us a little more time to really look at that proposal and access is the best place for this lab still down in Thundar’s Game Room or are there any other places we should look at on campus,” said Wraalstad.
The new space will most likely have lounge space for students as well as their current set up. They are also looking into providing multiple consoles for students to use and potentially rent out. “In the new lab, I think we would probably have all types of console gaming available,” said Wraalstad. These could include Playstation, Xbox, Wii and Nintendo switch.
“It’s really exciting, NDSU is kinda getting in front of this trend right now and the lab design that we are looking at is really going to put us really high on the list for esports facilities in higher education,” said Wraalstad.