Western Michigan University held the opening of a brand new eSports venue last week.
New eSports Arena at WMU
The Western Michigan University is another institute of higher learning that is entering the world of eSports competitions. On 5 October last week, WMU unveiled its brand new eSports Arena equipped with high-end gaming computers. The 12 PCs designated for competitive play come with cutting-edge hardware, each with an 8th generation Intel i7 processor, a GTX 1080 8GB GPU, and a 25” 240HZ Alienware monitor, among other things. The building itself is the former Little Theatre and it has been renovated for the purposes of eSports competitions. The Arena can accommodate up to 200 seated guests, who will have a perfect sight of the two giants displays located directly above the stage.
Additionally, the University has gone so far as to create merchandise bearing the WMU logo.
The project was completed with backing from the Transformative Initiative Fund, estimated at around $500,000. The Western Michigan University already has two dedicated eSports teams, one in Overwatch and one in League of Legends.
University participation in eSports
With so many different industries jumping on board with eSports, universities are one that will have the highest impact among the aspiring player base. Western Michigan University is only the latest among a slew of other colleges and higher learning institutes to enter the world of eSports. The University of Akron recently opened its own eSports venue, estimated to be the largest of its kind in the world at 5,200 square feet (~483 square meters).
But venues are not the only contributions that universities make to the eSports industry. Many of them have started offering eSports scholarships, with recipients being regarded as athletes in their own right. Among the list more prominent universities to offer scholarships, we find the University of Utah, the University of California-Irvine, Robert Morris University and many more.
With the introduction of eSports in the university and college sphere, the industry is getting one step closer to becoming as recognized and respected as traditional sports. While the eSports industry has surpassed certain traditional sports in terms of revenue and viewership numbers, public perception about competitive gaming still has a long way to go. The old stereotypes are deeply ingrained in society but given enough time, it is possible to undo that.