The Future of eSports and the Technology Behind the Sport
Esports is the world of “competitive,” organized video gaming and encompasses many verticals such as K-12, Collegiate, and Professional leagues worldwide. This established field has experienced tremendous growth for several years. It transcends geography, age, gender, language, and race, making it an all-inclusive sport that allows anyone to participate based on pure interest and ability. Esports has allowed gaming to become a real career path—a path filled with excitement and variety. Not only does it offer potential career paths for gamers, but also surrounding careers in coding, game design, broadcasting, marketing, management, social media, coaching, and even legal skills.
The Realm of eSports Programs and Impact on Recruiting
Implementing an eSports program can range from minimal to large investments. In the example of a small-scale program at a University, at the very least, there would be a need for a dedicated space with gaming computers, monitors, reliable network connectivity, and furniture suitable for participants sitting extended hours. Universities that desire a next-level program (investing in a program that can solicit premier athletes) require more functionally for the facility. These top-tier programs need facilities explicitly designed for eSports, with architectural and technical aspects in mind. These premier programs engage all parties from the beginning of the project, addressing factors such as aesthetics, acoustics, lighting, audio distributions, displays, signal distribution, and more. Depending on the size, space, and desired outcome, rollouts range in price. However, the key is proper planning as it lends itself to phased approaches as budgets allow. A next-level program can be a valuable approach for many Universities as these spaces are an excellent recruiting tool. It can help impress candidates, but it also signifies the university’s commitment to the eSports program. ESport players are athletes, and institutions committed to the program treat them as such, trying to get the best to compete on the national level. Often, they are offered scholarships to attend a College/University as members of the eSports team.
Key Technologies in eSports Facilities
Gaming computers, monitors, and network connectivity are essential to any eSports facility. Following this, technologies integrated surround the dedicated facility itself, whether built from the ground up or undergoing a renovation for eSports specifically. Large display screens installed throughout the facility help provide the entire group a centralized focal point when viewing together. LCD displays, projection, or video walls can show several sources at once or via one large image. As it relates to moving gaming PC signals to other displays or destinations, transport methods must be considered. Fiber optic is the best mode of transport for higher bandwidth/resolution signals (while futureproofing them through technology evolution in eSports). There are other types of networks, such as 10GB and 1GB, for institutions that don’t have the budget for this technology. Zero-latency and resolution are key factors that need to be considered when choosing a network type. An area that is often overlooked and one most responsible for problems after completing an eSports facility is audio and system control. The space can get loud in an eSports facility—you must have acoustics addressed and speakers in place to evenly distribute a clear signal with proper integrity. Nothing derails a facility’s effectiveness quicker than loud audio, loud players, and loud conversations bouncing around a room to where it becomes overwhelming noise. Lastly, a control system that is fluid to navigate is essential. Esports facilities utilize complicated technology. The difference in making them useful is its’ “ease of use.” System programmers must work closely with the end-users to provide an intuitive design that lends itself to the simple navigation of complicated technology. Doing so will ensure the system gets utilized as intended with the flexibility desired.
Importance of Design Process in Building eSports Facility
When institutions opt for a dedicated type of space, planning is critical for overall success. Defining the institution’s vision is vital and helps steer the overall direction. At the beginning of the design phase, New Era Technology addresses key aspects that lend to a successful outcome. We help paint the picture using renderings to showcase final results and help determine any adjustments needed as it relates to budget. The technology surrounding eSports is continuously evolving. New Era’s experience, vision, and foresight are critical to accommodating what lies ahead. We recognize that clients do not want to hear that their new facility needs a construction overhaul just years after commission, but instead that we have considered what lies ahead. ESports facilities deploy a considerable amount of integrated technology; New Era understands these complicated solutions. More importantly, we know how to effectively integrate them into the physical facility to produce an experience center.
eSports Facility in Action
New Era Technology was the integrator for Harrisburg University’s eSports program
—one of the first in the nation to be equipped with a dedicated facility built from the ground up. Harrisburg University’s leadership team was committed to a program to compete at the highest caliber. New Era’s engagement at the design level helped develop a technology plan to satisfy the near vision while providing future considerations. When the facility was completed in 2018, the university immediately showcased it for the public and athletes that they were recruiting worldwide. This investment paid immediate returns as Harrisburg University was awarded the international Tempest award for Best Collegiate eSports Program. Their Overwatch team won back-to-back National Championships in 2019 and 2020. Learn more about the Harrisburg University eSports project here
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