UC declares ‘game on’ for esports gaming

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It wasn’t too long ago that gaming was considered an isolating experience pursued in one’s own bedroom.

Sarah Jennet at gaming lounge in UC
UCX director Sarah Jennett says the university’s new eSports lounge has been designed to take a popular pastime and create a social experience amongst students. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

But the advent, development and proliferation of online gaming has made the once maligned form of entertainment practically as social as summer touch footy.

For the past six months, the team at UCX, the University of Canberra’s student union, have been hard at work looking to bring a popular pastime amongst the student cohort onto campus.

All 24 of the dedicated gaming computers, their tabletop games and additional consoles were fully occupied on Thursday 6 February, as UCX officially opened their new eSports lounge.

Available to both students and members of the public, the space has been designed to create a communal experience, according to director of UCX, Sarah Jennett.

“We work in student experience, we’re always looking for ways we can improve their on-campus experience so that their educational journey with us is more than just lectures and tutorials.

“Lots of our students are gaming anyway, but maybe in their dorm room or house … So they can come and game either as a team if they want to do it with their mates, or individually, but they’re here amongst other people, socialising.

“It allows students to get to know other people on campus, which can be hard for some people who come from interstate or overseas.”

Ms Jennett says the lounge was developed off the back of a trip she made to the USA in 2019 to visit a number of universities, looking at what they were doing to engage students.

“One of the things that came up that had already been on my radar was some of the lounges they had operating over there.”

Ms Jennett says their eSports lounge is the only one of its kind currently operating in Canberra.

“The space is designed as such that we’ll be able to run tournaments form here and participate in intervarsity events.

“Other universities have invested in facilities like this, but they are on a small scale. I suspect it’s really just on the cusp of being about to explode.”

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