Ohh what a time to be alive! The University of Waikato has made New Zealand history by launching the first university-based esports facility, the OMEN Esports Arena.
Equipped with multiple high-end Gaming PC, rows of DX Racer Gaming Chairs and a really big LG TV for streaming highlights, the esports arena serves as a dedicated space for on-campus gaming enthusiasts.
To create the Arena, The University teamed up with OMEN, The popular HP gaming and esports brand who supplied 12 top-of-the-line gaming computers, and PB Tech, New Zealand’s largest IT and computer retailer who supplied the big screen LG TV as well as a partial sponsorship of the DX Racer gaming chairs.
Mike Calvert, Director of Student Services at Waikato University, says the OMEN Esports Arena fits with the university’s direction of providing opportunities in a sport, “Esports is a global phenomenon and is one of the fastest-growing industries,” says Calvert. “With more than a million participants in New Zealand, and more than 300 million participants worldwide, it makes sense from a strategic perspective to move into this space,” he says. “Esports is a new and emerging field – the viewership is steadily climbing and the financial backing is growing, so it’s great to see the University of Waikato leading the way in this exciting industry.”
“We want to be able to give our students, who are likely to be engaging in esports anyway, an opportunity to be part of this in a socially inclusive environment where they can participate with like-minded people and, eventually, segue into future opportunities in esports.”
“It’s also an opportunity to link academic research and esports together, which is something we’re developing at the moment.”
As part of the arena, the University of Waikato offers a school-leaver scholarship for students who excel in esports. The 2degrees Esports Scholarship for School-Leavers awards $5000 to students who demonstrate excellence in esports, exhibit leadership experience or potential, and who carry values in health and wellbeing.
This year’s scholarship recipient, Ryan Holt, says the esports scholarship has allowed him to combine his passion for video games with his love of a challenge.
Brian White, Business Development Manager for PB Tech Central North Island, says “the university’s commitment to opening an esports arena shows competitive gaming can be more than just a hobby. “For a major university to be so involved with development pathways and scholarships for competitive gaming is just amazing.”
Jason Spiller, Marketing Manager for Gaming, Esports & Immersive Technologies at HP, says the OMEN Esports arena is providing a new opportunity for the region. “Esports is growing. It’s not only growing as a career option for those wanting to turn pro, but it’s growing in a myriad of other ways. From future careers and game development to coding and tournament operations, there are so many other aspects that go into what is now a massive industry.”
“In an age of growing digital isolation, gaming and esports are one of best ways to provide identity and community to students and the OMEN Esports Arena provides a place to foster those connections,” says Spiller.
Amongst the crowd enjoying the grand opening celebrations was Conrad from Ping Zero NZ, who took out first place in the F1 racing tournament (he’s quite the racer!), and Callum from Pixel Lounge NZ who raced into 3rd for the fun mini-event.
It’s all very exciting, you can read more about the new University of Waikato eSports Arena on the official FB page!
GAME ON!… I mean… STUDY ON!… well, both I guess!