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Campus Lens

Game On!

NC State steps up its effort in the growing world of video games with plans for a new arena and expanded course offerings.

Illustration by Sam Ward

By Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

As home to a growing number of video gaming companies and host to major esports competitions, Raleigh is turning into a hub for esports. And now NC State is expanding its offerings in the fast-growing field with the help of $16 million in state funding for an esports arena and mobile gaming truck.

The NC State Gaming and Esports Lab opened in January inside James B. Hunt Jr. Library with room for esports competition and casual play. By spring, a mobile truck could begin operating to bring competition, technology and digital literacy education to students (from elementary schools to community colleges) across the state. And by 2026, NC State is expected to open an esports arena inside Mann Hall in a 5,000-square-foot space.

But the venues won’t only be reserved for League of Legends battles and other esports competitions, says Marc Hoit, vice chancellor for information technology. Gaming and technology companies can test their latest gaming infrastructure or new technologies there, he says. Faculty members and students can conduct research. Instructors will create immersive learning experiences, taking an archaeological class on a virtual dig, for example.

NC State also can position itself as a training ground for the next generation of professionals in the high-growth gaming industry. Students will be able to learn about esports event management, broadcasting and video game production, Hoit says. And the College of Natural Resources is creating an esports management minor.

Jill Sexton, associate director for digital and organizational strategy at NC State University Libraries, says she’s eager to provide a place where students with common interests can gather. “I’m very excited about the student wellness aspect,” she says.

While the arena won’t be complete by the time most of the Esports Club’s more than 500 members graduate, club leaders are eager for the Hunt Library lab where they can game together in person and collaborate with other campus gaming clubs.

“It will grow the club by a substantial amount,” says Jack Babcock, a sophomore business major from Charlotte, N.C., and the club’s secretary, “just because of that sense of community you get just by playing together with people.”

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