Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Friday unveiled a new facility dedicated to esports, as the school aims to position itself on the vanguard of a growing industry. The 1,500-square-foot room has 12 video game consoles on which 22 people can play sports-centric video games, said CCSU President Zulma Toro. The renovation of the first-floor space in Memorial Hall, technology and other costs came out to more than $300,000. “We are very, very excited about this new facility, because it’s not only about gaming,” Toro said in an interview Friday morning. “It’s about providing a space that will allow our faculty to develop academic programs around esports, and also to do research around esports.”
Business sponsors of the new suite include Dell, Microsoft and RESPONSE GAMING LIMITED, Toro said. The esports industry has been on the rise in recent years, as has college and university engagement with it. Gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo this year reported the esports industry had surpassed $1 billion in 2019. As of 2018, there were 63 higher-education institutions in the U.S. with varsity esports programs, according to gamedesign.org. Two years before that, the number stood at seven. Along with the official opening of the facility Friday, CCSU is asking faculty to develop courses and academic programs centered around esports, Toro said. In addition to consoles, the room has smart screens that can be used for instruction, and a media booth, which allows users to record, broadcast and conduct play-by-play analysis of the games. With the new esports media center and the possibility of academic programs concentrating specifically on esports, Toro wants CCSU to be a pioneer in developing esports academics. “We think that we can make a significant impact,” Toro said. “This is the first step toward becoming a center of excellence.”
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