Packed with 18 powerful gaming PCs, current generation consoles and a virtual reality headset, the Student Union Esports Lounge began last semester with a soft launch meant to test the equipment and collect feedback from patrons. The lounge quickly became a bustling location for students to relax between classes.
August and September went relatively smoothly for the lounge, according Adrianna McCoy, the Esports Lounge manager. There were only minor issues with the hardware, but McCoy is happy with how busy the lounge was during the official launch in October.
“During that period, we had so many people filtering in. People want to see something new on campus,” McCoy said.
Bryce Lybarger’s first time in the Esports Lounge was about a month after the soft launch, and compliments the space for including everything he wants.
“It’s a really good setup,” Lybarger said.
Since October, Anchorage Christian Schools, East High School and Dimond High School have brought their esports teams to practice in the lounge nearly every week, McCoy said.
“They just bring their students in to play their matches or practice, and they seem to really enjoy being able to have a serious practice environment that isn’t just the computer lab at their school. They actually get to go play their game somewhere like a real sport would,” McCoy said.
The UAA eSports Club League of Legends and Overwatch teams also practice and play their tournament games in the Esports Lounge due to the dependable internet connection, McCoy, who is also the eSports Club president, said.
“Everything in there is really reliable [in the lounge] in comparison to someone’s home computer,” McCoy said.
McCoy stressed that the eSports Club and Esports Lounge are two separate entities, although the club does occasionally host events in the lounge. The lounge has also helped with recruitment for the eSports Club, McCoy said.
“I think a lot of people see the Esports Lounge and they think, ‘hey, there’s actually gamers around campus.’ I notice a lot of people come to the info desk asking questions about the different gaming clubs on campus,” McCoy said. “I remember our first event last semester… and we had about 40 people show up to that and a lot of [them were] people I’ve never seen before.”
League of Legends has been the most popular game in the Esports Lounge by far, McCoy said.
“I was looking at the statistics over a couple months and there was something like over 400 plays of League of Legends. The next most played games only had 60 or 80 plays,” McCoy said.
McCoy attributes League of Legends’ popularity with its accessibility and being free to play.
The Esports Lounge saw peak times at odd intervals throughout the semester, such as a Tuesday at 2 p.m., McCoy said.
“You’d think you’d see more people in there on Fridays and the weekend when people have more time on their hands, but it’s the other way around,” McCoy said. “You see more people on weekday afternoons, which is really interesting.”
A lot of people like to come into the Esports Lounge to take a break between classes, McCoy said.
“One of my friends has a four-hour gap between her classes and she commutes in from Eagle River, so having a space to sit and not have to drive back home is really nice for her,” McCoy said.
C.J. Trinidad is an Esports Lounge regular and has been playing games in the space since it was a computer lounge.
“I’m kind of content with what we have here right now. It seems like they have [the games] most people want,” Trinidad said.
To create a free account and start playing games in the lounge, students must be enrolled in at least three credit hours and visit the Information Desk. The Esports Lounge and Information Desk are both located on the second floor of the Student Union.
The lounge is open Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30-8:30 p.m. Visit the official Esports Lounge webpage for more information on what games are available to play and upcoming events.