SIU Esports Arena will open for Dawg’s Night Out

By Jacob Lorenz, Staff Reporter

The Esports Arena will be opening Aug. 16 for Dawg’s Night Out in the student center for the first time.

As the video game industry progresses, more and more universities and high schools have Esports teams. Some universities even offer scholarships for their Esports teams. 

Esports teams compete against other top-notch players in a specific game. Some games, like Overwatch and League of Legends, are so popular they get broadcast on ESPN.  

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SIU is taking its first big steps into the Esports scene with a new Esports Arena.  

Kent Epplin, Associate Director for the student center, said the arena will have an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the student center. Epplin said, it will also be open during Dawg Day. 

The arena will have 17 total computers with 5 Dell computers outfitted for PC gaming and 12 Aurora R7 Alienware gaming PCs. Each Alienware PC will include an 8th gen Intel processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

The south side of the arena is where the PC competitive side will be. 12 PCs will be lined up, six on one side and six on the other facing each other, all equipped with a Corsair keyboard and headset, Alienware mouse and a custom SIU gaming chair. Alumni can donate $500 to get their own chair shipped to them and have one in the arena. 

The north side will have the remaining five PCs and will be attached to five, 65 inch TVs. Two TVs and PCs will be used for Dance Dance Revolution with real arcade dance pads, but can still be used for traditional gaming. Epplin said those might not be installed by Aug. 16. 

The remaining three computers and TVs will be used for console gaming, but with computers. You can use the keyboard and mouse below the TV on the counter, or you may use a console controller. 

GGleap is the software on all the PCs in the arena. This software is able to track each person’s time, what game they are playing and their stats in the game. A player’s stats will be displayed on the leaderboards at SIU, within the region and globally. 

Epplin said you would access the arena like how you would the bowling alley or billiards. Buying and renewing time is all done at the bowling alley, too. 

Epplin said to start an account for the arena, you would need your dawg tag, an email, phone number and a gamer tag. The price for usage is $3 an hour for students, $3.50 an hour for staff, and $4 an hour for the public. 

Once logged into a PC a gauge labeled “fuel” will be in the bottom left of the screen. The fuel gauge is visible only in the home screen of GGleap, so it will not obstruct viewing the game. 

Player’s will be issued several warnings when their time is about to run out, Epplin said, and players will be kicked from their game when time runs out. 

The display of the arena computers will look like a typical windows computer. When a player logs-in, they will only see the GGleap home screen. There, the player will see leaderboards, games, their time and apps like Discord. 

The last thing about GGleap is the choice of games. Player’s aren’t actually able to download games to the computers, but some games are already installed onto the computers like Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends and Battlefield 1. 

If a player wants to install a new game to the arena PCs, they will need to request the game from administration Epplin said. 

He said there needs to be a show of interest in the game, but he wants to stay on top of games that are popular. 

Epplin said for some requested games administration may install them for access. This means you can log into our Steam or Epic Games Store account and play the game if you have already purchased the game.

Victor Martin, Competitive Sports Coordinator, said currently, SIU has two teams in the SIU Esports Club, League of Legends and Rocket League, that compete against collegiate and non-collegiate teams. The SIU Esports Club is a Recreational Sports and Services sport club.

“Super Smash Bros. is an incredibly popular single player competitive game that we can support members to travel and play,” Martin said.

The RSS covers many games, whether you play casually or competitively, and many members meet weekly to practice and play. 

Brandon “Leorio” Isom, a senior studying journalism and law and an officer in the Esports RSS, said, he’s very excited for the arena for two reasons.

“First is visibility,” Isom said, “the openness of the arena will attract students to come in a play.” 

Isom said secondly, the arena will be a great place for a good portion of the club to meet. 

“Before, players either had to meet online or privately,” he said. 

Isom said he is excited to see the reactions and people having fun. 

“Hopefully, we get more teammates on some of our teams,” he said. 

They have the ability to expand the arena, but they are satisfied with what they designed, right now, Epplin said.

See more: (Esports arena, makerspace placed on hold due to funding).

Staff reporter Jacob Lorenz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jtlorenz6.

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