Wayne State University students can take a break from class and play video games in the esports lounge on the lower level of the Student Center which opened on October 7.
WSU originally announced the start of construction for the esports show on April 3, but plans have been underway for a few years. An increased desire within the student body to expand esports activities on campus prompted the lounge proposal, said Andrea Gerber, director of student center services at WSU.
“It’s really been talked about in general because of student demand around esports, so we’ve seen an increase in esports tied to student organizations,” Gerber said.
Plans were already underway to build the show long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gerber said.
“It’s a very long process to build something like this. Long before COVID, years before COVID, like probably I think a year and a half before COVID even happened is when it started,” Gerber said.
Then Provost Keith Whitfield asked Gerber’s boss if there was an available slot in the student center for the esports lounge, Gerber said.
“There was an original location potentially looked at in libraries and it didn’t necessarily come to fruition,” Gerber said.
With growing student demand for esports, staff have included cost and accessibility factors in the decision-making process for the build, Gerber said.
“Structurally, we didn’t have to do much to create the facility, so this location was chosen due to cost, as it was the cheapest location we could find and it was was already acting as an esports-themed area on campus,” Gerber said. .
COVID-19 restrictions led WSU to close the student center to the public in March, putting construction on the lounge on hold. Construction was eventually able to resume in anticipation of the building’s reopening.
Melanie Stawkey, WSU Intramurals, Club Sports and Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, said she believes the show has had a positive impact on the WSU community.
“I think the esports lounge seems like a great opportunity for students interested in esports to create and grow a community on campus,” Stawkey said.
The show is more than just a game for many WSU students, said WSU public health specialist Kahlid Ali.
“The esports lounge provides a break from school,” he said.
Students can play Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Rocket League and other games in the lounge. Still, Ali said he would like to see more games available on computers, even games that aren’t esports themed.
As a PC enthusiast, Ali said he appreciates the state-of-the-art gaming technology at the show. The main reason he comes to the show is to play on a more modern computer, with better graphics, than his own computer.
“It’s a stress reliever from school and a good way to build the community that exists,” Ali said.
Victor Jackson is a contributing writer for The South End. He can be contacted at [email protected]