NDSU joins Esports Frenzy

The Memorial Union opens gaming lounge in recreation area

The basement of the Memorial Union has space for gamers, specifically competitive esports. The space includes 17 computers with a number of games that students can partake in for an hourly fee.

During the grand opening for the center, Jake Waldner, the Assistant Director of Operation said the idea for a gaming space in the Union’s rec center started about a year ago. 

Ryan Kota, a professor of sports science, originally had the idea, according to Waldner. “He was heavily involved in esports over at Florida State, his old institution.”

Waldner said, Kato along with Paul Wraasted, the Director of Operations for the Union, really got the ball rolling on the project, even getting the grant money needed for the hardware. 

The space in the Union was originally envisioned as a party space, according to Waldner but ended up being a perfect fit for the PCs that now inhabit the space.

Austin Whitescarver, the Student Coordinator for the recreation center in the Union, said he’s in charge of making sure that students inhabiting this space for years to come. 

“My involvement is making sure that we have enough information that we need to get, such as licensing, going and setting up tournaments and things like that. Trying to make sure this place grows,” Whitescarver said, “and you know we can see it expand in the future.”

Whitescarver said he has gotten interest from fraternities on campus. “We’re trying to work with some of the clubs on campus, so we got “League of Legends”, “Overwatch” and “Rocket League” club right now that we’re trying to get involved,” Whitescarver said.

Whitescarver said he is a gamer himself. “I do play frequently. I’m an avid gamer. Unfortunately, I don’t dabble too much in PC. I’m looking to do that in the future.”

Whitescarver said he follows some Esport leagues and has a breath of knowledge in the area of video games.

NDSU is not special when it comes to “gaming cafes” as Whitescarver calls them. Colleges in specific have already been partaking in the fast-growing area of esports. 

“Robert Morris was actually one of the first schools to start doing these collegiate level esports,” Whitescarver said, “they’re the granddad that started everything.”

Robert Morris soon set a trend in the area and now, according to Whitescarver, many schools have set up their own cafes and teams.

The two popular games on the collegiate level are “Overwatch” and “League of Legends,” according to Whitescarver.

To rent a computer for an hour is $3.75 and the whole space is available for $50 per hour. 

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