DC’s esports arena opens to great reception

A group of students playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Photo credit: William Black

Durham College’s esports arena was filled with more people in suits than gamers at its opening on April 2.

But DC president Don Lovisa rectified this as he took off his blazer to reveal a DC varsity esports jersey underneath and said, “Now I think it’s time to get down to some gaming.”

Lovisa then played Mario Kart with staff, students, and members of Durham College’s esports varsity team.

So, let’s follow in his footsteps and get down to some gaming.

The gaming arena features 46 computers with RTX 2080 graphics cards with 12 computers reserved for the varsity teams to train.

All computers are connected to 144 Hertz gaming monitors and cooled with water cooling.

The placeholder consoles in the original design have been swapped out for three PlayStation 4s and three Xbox Ones.

However, the arena does not have Wii consoles, which are the main way to play Super Smash Bros. Melee competitively. However, you can still bring your own.

Streaming capabilities are on each system for broadcasting on Twitch.

Does this confuse you? If so read the sidebar. If not, read on.

The placeholder brand names on the glass have now been switched out for Monster Energy logos on the chairs, walls and glass.

Monster Energy is now a staple brand of Durham College’s esports ventures, along with Lenovo which supplied the computers, keyboards, mice and headsets.

DXRacer is also a sponsored brand who supplied the gaming chairs.

The building is designed for the varsity team to hone its skills, but the designers also considered regular students who are looking for a place to hang out.

Pool tables from the design were removed to make way for more lounging space and to stop fly pool balls from hitting equipment.

After the grand opening a couple of windows were covered to prevent sunlight glare on the televisions.

However, back at opening day, students were already using the arena space for recreation.

Games sessions of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were underway. Durham College does not have a Smash Ultimate team, however, this game – despite being released in December of last year – has already become the de facto competitive-party game.

People often bring a GameCube controller to gaming events because of the likelihood of finding someone, somewhere to play against.

The portability of the Nintendo Switch adds to popularity of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at gaming events.

In one corner, a group of friends was already using the TVs to play a rhythm game called Persona 4: Dancing All Night.

This title is by no stretch of the word a competitive game – and that’s just fine. Durham College encourages you to bring your own controllers, consoles, games whether they’re competitive or not.

Students had great things to say about the gaming arena.

“It’s super convenient for us,” said Addison Rodney-Auguste. He is taking an advanced diploma in Computer Science Technology.

He and his friends don’t really play any of the competitive games, but they are still going to be using this arena to its fullest.

“This is also a nice central area for us to meet up because we are all over the place,” said Brian Thomas, a Computer Systems Technology student. “If you have one very central accessible place like Durham College we can just meet up here.”

Having a single meeting place to play video games is convenient for many people. They don’t have to decide whose dorm or house to meet up at if they want to play games in person.

Sarah Wagg, the DC esports arena manager said in her opening speech, “It’s true that gamers spend a lot of time inside.”

Wagg also said she can’t wait to see how this arena is going to affect the gaming community.

“We’ve taken to calling it a gamers paradise”

Despite graduating this year, Thomas and Rodney-Auguste and their friend Ilyas Ahamedi are still going to have access to this space because it is open to all students and alumni.

Using a PC costs $3.75 an hour, or three hours for $10 plus tax. The space will be open Monday to Friday from noon to 9 p.m.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE ESPORTS VENUE

Inside each gaming PC there are graphics cards called Nvidia RTX 2080’s. They increase the performing power of a computer. This means higher framerates in games and increased picture quality. The monitors connected to the graphics cards are 144 hertz low latency monitors. Hertz is essentially the frame rate of the monitor.

Keep in mind this is different from the frame rate of the videogame. Higher numbers for videogame frame rate and monitor refresh rate are always better.

Monitors refresh rates are static. At DC’s arena there are 144 hertz PC gaming monitors. All computer games output a variable FPS, meaning it can change depending on how many players there are in a game, graphics quality, and the speed of your graphics card. If you have low end graphics card or no dedicated graphics card, FPS is going to be low. For esports titles, around 30 frames per second is considered a low FPS. 60 and higher is considered a high FPS. However higher numbers are always better.

The more frames the monitor has to choose from the less choppy and less lag the game is going to have.

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