Gaming Lounge Open in Student Center
In the northwest corner of the first floor of the Student Center — where Buckshot's Grill was located — there is a new gaming lounge available to students.
“It was an overflow of the cafeteria, but when Buckshot's closed, we knew the space was going to kind of die, and we saw a need for more seating and more lounge space,” Aaron Hughes, the student activities coordinator, said.
Inspiration for the lounge came from the uptick of eSports at some colleges in the country. In North Dakota, Jamestown University has an official competitive gaming team that is a branch of their athletics' department, complete with scholarships, and Dickinson State University is considering competitive gaming as an official sport, according to an October Grand Forks Herald article; however, it is not yet listed officially on their website as such.
“The idea (for the lounge) came from administration. They have been watching what other ND schools are doing and caught wind that gaming is popular and pitched the idea to me,” Hughes said. “I felt it out with our student activities team, and over the summer did a lot of research on the cost associated with actual eSports compared to console gaming. (We) obviously wanted to introduce something that’s budget friendly but also open to a larger population of students.”
“We are not considering adding eSports at the moment; however, we are always open to having the discussion if students are interested,” Kevin Harmon, vice president of student affairs, said.
Official eSports at other colleges are treated as any other sport, which often includes space that is set aside for team members. The space in the Student Center is available to anyone and now features gaming consoles, various seating, and a Ping-Pong table.
“There are four PS4s, two Xboxes, and two mini arcade cabinets, and we’re looking at adding a few more things, but that’s where we’ve started,” Hughes said.
There are several games provided in the lounge for students to play.
“We have Madden, which is an NFL game, we have Marvel Spiderman, Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty, and FIFA, which is a soccer game — a lot of international students are happy about that,” Hughes said.
Students can play their own games in the lounge as well.
“You can bring your own controllers, your own headset, your own game, or you can play what’s provided there. You have to install (your own games) on the console, and other people wouldn’t be able to play them without the disk there,” Hughes said
Students can make requests for games they want to see as an option in the lounge. Hughes has a clipboard available in the area for students to note their requests.
“That’s our solution to find out what students want to play down there, so you will see more games added constantly, and as games come out, we’ll keep adding them. The plan is to continue to add games,” Hughes said.
The large space is still a work in progress, and its official unveiling, which Hughes hopes to accompany with tournaments, music, and food, will take place sometime during the spring semester; however, it is currently open for students to utilize as is.