William Peace University Launches New Esports and Gaming Lab
RALEIGH, N.C. — A new esports and gaming lab with high-powered computers and gaming chairs is now open for students at William Peace University (WPU).
The lab features 10 Alienware Aurora R12 gaming desktops with 11th-gen Core i9 processors, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080/10GB GDDR6x, and 32GB of RAM. Students sit in Secretlab TITAN Evo 2022 Series gaming chairs.
Two large monitors hang on the wall, ready to display what’s on one of the computers for demonstration or discussion. Each station has its own headphones, an RGB keyboard, and a pro-level controller.
The lab is the culmination of hard work by Roger Christman, department chair of Communications and Simulation & Game Design.
“I am absolutely ecstatic to launch the lab and provide a top-notch experience for our students,” Christman said. “At WPU, we believe in immersive learning — learning by doing. This lab enables our students to dig in and create games, play them, and learn about the industry with the latest technology. I’m so thrilled to see our students getting this amazing education and experience.”
The University has a variety of programs that will use the lab, including the new Esports and Gaming Administration and Interactive Design majors, which launched in fall 2021. Students studying Simulation & Game Design will also use the lab. Game Design is the actual creation of video games. Interactive Design is a more robust study of graphic design, folding in communications, user interface (UI) and more.
The lab is now also home to the University’s two esports teams, Rocket League and Valorant. The teams practice weekly and are preparing to enter regular competitions this semester.
The gaming industry is growing exponentially, now up to 26.6 million viewers per month. According to a Forbes ranking, Raleigh is the second-hottest area in the United States for tech jobs and is an emerging frontrunner in the esports gaming community. More than 50% of the growing number of esports jobs are in the U.S.; the BLS predicts the industry will grow by 22 percent by 2030.
Christman said finalizing some of the lab parts was even more challenging due to the pandemic, which has caused delays and shortages worldwide for everything from computer parts to furniture. The lab opened part-time for some students in November.
“We put most of it together this summer, hoping to open in August,” Christman said. “With fiber optic and switchers limited right now, it was a challenge. We’re so thrilled we were able to launch it within the semester for students who can start using it.”