FREDONIA — The hardware in the new Blue Devil eSports Lounge at the State University of New York at Fredonia is top-of-the-line: 13 Alienware gaming desktop computers, two oversized TV screens mounted on walls and three consoles (Xbox, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch).
But what also stands out when entering the eSports Lounge is how all this technology is wrapped together by Fredonia blue. Carpeting, chairs and couches are blue. So is the soft LED lighting around the perimeter of the lounge that held its grand opening – complete with a ribbon-cutting – on Friday afternoon, Jan. 24.
Fredonia’s eSports Club President Zachary Lonieski, a junior Music Education major, heaped lofty praise on the lounge in Schulz Hall. “The setup is very intelligent and very welcoming, especially the comfortable couches along the sides where the audience can view the games on TVs.” Games can be projected onto campus television monitors and also viewed by outside audiences.
“It looks phenomenal; the equipment is excellent,” added Kermit Mitchell III, a senior Computer Science and Applied Mathematics major.
With the lounge, eSports Club members can gather one place and practice together instead of being scattered in separate locations around campus, explained Mark Mackey, eSports Club advisor. “Having good gaming equipment to play on is great for the kids,” he added.
Competitive video gaming is growing at an astonishing rate on college and university campuses around the country. Teams of students face off in games that are watched and followed by fans all over the world. Fredonia has entered this world in a big way with a lounge that rivals eSports lounges found in larger colleges and universities.
Collaboration between campus constituent groups made it possible for the lounge to planned and developed in less than three months. Mr. Mackey praised the efforts of Facilities Services and its team of electricians, carpenters, heating technicians, plumbers, custodians and locksmiths for completing the project in short order.
“It’s amazing, better than what I would have expected,” added Kenneth Price, eSports Club vice president. “Now we have a dedicated space to practice. Mark (Mackey) came to us and asked us what we wanted, what kinds of things do you need for the games that you play here,” explained Mr. Price, a junior Music Performance and Computer Science major.
Gamers can now review games they previously played, correct errors and coordinate future game strategy, Price added, in much the same way football teams review tapes of past games to prepare for their next one.
Price especially likes the “vibe” of the lounge and the way the color scheme connects the lounge to the campus.
The lounge is positioned to expand the eSports Club’s roster, which currently stands around 30. Another 100 gamers also stay connected with club members.
“People in the past had expressed an interest, but they didn’t have the equipment,” Price noted. “Now we have it; hopefully that will help grow our team as well.”
Mr. Mitchell, a game developer and co-founder of KM3 Studios, a client in the Fredonia Technology Incubator, anticipates increasing demand for dedicated gaming space as Fredonia’s eSports program evolves.
It’s no coincidence, then, that Fredonia will become one of the first universities to offer a two-credit course, eSports in a Lab. Registration is underway for PHED 199 Section 3, a new spring semester course, that will cover the game League of Legends and be taught by Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Cedric Howard.