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UW creates new eSports center, and not just to distract students

 In Esports

Originally published by Dave Ross of MyNorthWest Staff on April 29, 2019. Click HERE to view the article in its original format.

 

It sometimes leaves parents uneasy to see their college level kids up until 2 a.m. playing Fortnite. But there are some real skills involved in this and the University of Washington is on the cutting edge of eSports.

Dr. Justin Camputaro is with UW eSports, and set up a new gaming center at the HUB. He and student Wendy Kang joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss it.

“It is a 1,000-square-foot facility that has 40 of the highest and custom designed PCs,” he said. “We designed these machines all around what our students were seeking to be able to play at the highest competitive levels, but also from a casual perspective.”

 

“We’ll also have two machines that are running virtual reality, and we have several digital monitors … Later this summer we’ll be building out a full-scale broadcast booth so you can stream play by play of these competitive tournaments.”

Not that students need any additional distractions to get in the way of their studying. But for Dr. Camputaro, this new facility is about more than that.

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“The skills that are learned in here range from teamwork to strategy to critical thinking skills, even socialization skills,” he said. “A lot of the times gaming is one of those things that has had a stigma, that you’re playing by yourself in your room, but we’re building a space where these students get to come together and play together.”

“We’re working with several academic units to be able to do research and game design around serious games or educational games.”

This has been the experience of Wendy Kang, a UW student who’s thrilled that the eSports center has opened.

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“So we opened last week and having experienced it myself I can say that it was really fun,” she said. “It’s so inspiring to see a bunch of people around you, some people you know, some people you don’t, just having fun playing all these types of games.”

Kang is majoring in human-centered design and engineering, otherwise known as HCV. Is this new eSports hub helping with her education?

“Yeah it actually does. My major focuses on UX and user experience usability, and games are all about that; they’re about understanding — as a consumer, as a gamer — what makes games fun,” she said. “So if you play something and say, ‘Hey this isn’t for me,’ well then maybe that’s not bad usability, but you certainly didn’t have the best user experience.”

Dr. Camputaro says there may even come a day in the next few years when UW eSports scholarships exist. That part might make parents feel better.

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