eSports is the latest phenomenon engaging the next generation of students. The rise of eSports has been meteoric with revenues expected in the $100B range globally this year alone. In fact, more millennial males watch eSports than traditional spectator sports like baseball or hockey, according to a survey conducted by Newzoo, an eSports market research firm, and it is expected that the global fan base of eSports will exceed 500 million by 2020. This is a white-hot arena, and higher education has taken notice.
Today in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology announced an all-new arena to support its first and only varsity sport: eSports. Powered by OMEN Gaming PCs and accessories, this state-of-the art arena will support its three varsity teams competing in Overwatch®, League of Legends™ and Hearthstone™, as well as more casual gamers from the university and local communities. Harrisburg University president Eric Darr announced that the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts would become the official arena for the institution’s varsity eSports team.
“The growing phenomenon of eSports has captured the hearts and minds of avid gamers and spectators around the globe," said Darr. “We are enthusiastic about our chances of becoming a major player in the world of collegiate eSports with the unveiling of this new arena.”
Like the new Harrisburg University arena, campuses all over the world have created intercollegiate eSports teams. This is why HP created the OMEN Gaming Arena for Higher Education reference designs, offering campuses a variety of arena configurations from 20 seats to over 100, all pre-configured to create an exceptional fast, but level playing field for pro-level competitive eSports. These collegiate arenas complement HP’s relationship with the Overwatch League and all of our industry-leading OMEN gaming gear.
Gaming is quickly becoming a keystone for the Campus of the Future
In higher education, the office of student affairs has become a crucial driver of improved student success. eSports arenas – whether casual or professional-level – provide campuses with a modern facility to engage gamers of all abilities, while keeping students engaged in the campus community. Moreover, many campus eSports arenas are also open to public use, increasing community engagement, especially with local youth. Community engagement is what drove Harrisburg University to choose the Whitaker Center as the marquis venue for the new arena.
“Whitaker Center is the “crown jewel” of downtown Harrisburg, the bustling state capitol of Pennsylvania, and is an ideal location for showcasing eSports events and HP’s state-of-the-art gaming technology,” said Ted Black, President and CEO of the Whitaker Center. “Our collaboration with HP and Harrisburg University will be a beacon to attract fans and players from every corner of the eSports world. This one-of-a-kind venue represents a seismic change for collegiate eSports!”
Gaming innovation delivered through strategic collaborations with D&H and Intel®
One critical lynchpin of the project’s planning and success to date has been the expertise of D&H Distributing, a leading international technology distributor. HP and D&H have collaborated to bring more innovation to campus eSports through unique programs which help institutions design, configure, deploy and manage eSports arenas throughout the United States and Canada.
“D&H is proud to be aligned with great local names such as Harrisburg University and the Whitaker Center, plus global technology brands HP and Intel®,” said Dan Schwab, Co-CEO at D&H Distribution. “We are excited to be a part of this incredible eSports explosion, and what better way to do so than by helping accelerate adoption and visibility less than two miles from our corporate offices.”
Another essential partner has been Intel® – a leader in eSports and PC gaming performance. From the high performance Intel® Core™ i7 processors to the Intel® Optane™ SSD 900P Series acceleration technology, Intel® has been an indispensable partner in engineering next-generation gaming and eSports experiences. Their support of the OMEN Collegiate eSports Arenas has fueled even more innovation, as their experienced team helps optimize loadouts, networks, graphics and synchronization to ensure the best gaming experiences possible.
The new eSports arena at Harrisburg University signals a new direction in higher education. We look forward to partnering with many more institutions in the coming year to bring eSports to campuses all over the world.