The University of Akron will show off its three new places for students who are video gamers at an open house this Friday.
The open-to-the-public event for the new esports (electronic sports) facilities will run from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday during homecoming weekend.
Visitors can tour the facilities — all in renovated spaces — and meet and watch teams compete, as well as put their own gaming skills to the test to play for prizes.
UA revealed plans late last year to offer varsity e-sports on its main campus, as well as a club esports program.
The university is the first public university in northern Ohio to create a comprehensive varsity esports program, joining an estimated 70 collegiate esports programs around the country adding the sport in recent years.
UA has spent $750,000 to prepare and furnish the gaming spaces, including the gaming arena at InfoCision Stadium for the varsity teams. Three partner companies donated a host of equipment.
The three gaming spaces that will be available for touring are:
• The 1,222-square-foot video gaming arena on the first floor of InfoCision Stadium that is home to the campus’ five varsity esports teams. This space includes a “hyper wall display,” multiple monitors that together display one large image.
• An esports center on the first floor of the Jean Hower Taber Student Union, which will be home to the more than a dozen esports club teams. Devices will be available for recreational use by students who are not members of a club or varsity team.
• A recreational gaming café on the first floor of the Drs. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Honors College that will be available for all students for free. University employees, alumni and community members who are gamers and want to use the café will be able to purchase passes. Pass prices have yet to be determined. The Honors College is off East Buchtel Avenue.
Together, the three new esports facilities will boast 3 Gravity Gaming PCs for competitive esports, 15 Xbox Ones and 15 PlayStation 4s. There are roughly 50 varsity players and more than 300 students on club teams.
Outside on the campus from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, on Coleman Common, members of esports clubs will be recruiting student players. Visitors can meet with Zips Esports sponsors and try out their gaming products.
Sponsors, who have provided equipment at no cost to UA are: Audio-Technica, with U.S. headquarters in Stow, which has provided player headsets, broadcasting headsets and microphones at no cost to the varsity teams; Gravity Gaming, which donated gaming PCs and console, and SteelSeries, which provided keyboards, mice and mousepads for each of the PC gaming stations.
UA’s visitor parking garage is at 248 E. Buchtel Ave., under the Robertson Dining Hall. There also are metered parking spaces throughout campus and there is public parking near InfoCision Stadium.