A computer lab in Bluff Hall is getting a fresh coat of paint to open as an esports arena next semester for recreational and competitive use by the esports club.
The room will feature 12 gaming computers and gaming chairs along with two TVs and gaming consoles. While it is still unknown what gaming consoles are being put in with the TVs, senior CMIS student Luke Sandidge, of Auburn, Illinois, a member of esports club, said the computers will have NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics cards and Intel Core i5-8400 processors.
The Alestle previously reported the arena was originally planned to be built near Cougar Lanes in the MUC, but according to director of campus recreation Keith Becherer it was always planned for Bluff.
“The original concept from the innovation grant team was to have it here in Bluff Hall,” Becherer said. “The great thing was that the chancellor’s office and the innovation grant review team and a lot of other administrators see the value in this space.”
According to Becherer, they considering the possibility of opening an arena in the MUC, but for now the Bluff arena is a good way to gauge interest. Becherer said he would like to eventually see an arena open in the MUC.
“Based on what we’ve seen, based on what the club has accomplished, based on the fact that a lot of our perspective students and current students know about this, I think it’s going to be wildly successful,” Becherer said.
The arena in Bluff will have most of what would be offered in a MUC arena, except for a place for audiences to watch. While there are plans to set up a small lounge area in the room, Becherer is promoting live streaming as the main way for audiences to view competitions.
Students in Bluff are excited about the arena. Freshman computer science major Zach Fisher, of Cantrall, Illinois, believes it will bring students closer together.
“I think it’s a really cool idea. I think it will get a lot more people involved as a community,” Fisher said. “I think it will be good for the whole campus too; anyone can go to it.”
The opening of an arena would provide a large improvement for the esports club.
According to the president of the esports club, senior computer science major Jordan Kramer, of O’Fallon, Illinois, many of the members have to meet in the MUC to play together, while other members have never met one another because they can only play from their residences.
“Having this space here allows us all to be in one area, have that chemistry, and play together. In the MUC … It’s just not realistic for some of our other teams to do that,” Kramer said.
An open house will be held for the arena from 2 to 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16 to officially introduce the arena to Bluff Hall.