Sep 1, 2022 - News

UT opens esports gaming lab

It's a good time to be a gamer in Austin.

For the first time, University of Texas students will be able to train on campus and compete at the highest level in esports competitions.

Driving the news: Alienware, Dell Technologies and UT on Wednesday unveiled the Alienware Longhorn Esports Lounge, offering state-of-the-art competitive gaming equipment on the main level of the Texas Union.

  • Plus, a 3,300-square-foot arena is currently under construction in the soon-to-be renovated Texas Union Underground, which will be equipped with nearly 50 Alienware Aurora R13 and R14 battle stations, a production center, console game space and viewing area.
  • The now-open lounge offers Alienware Aurora R13 desktops, Alienware X and M series laptops and a multiplayer console area.
  • The lounge and arena are part of a multi-year commitment of technology and support from Dell Technologies and its subsidiary, Alienware, totaling more than $1 million, according to a university spokesperson.
The Alienware Longhorn Esports Lounge at the University of Texas. Photo: Courtesy of the University of Texas

The big picture: It's the latest sign of the rising popularity of competitive gaming. UT finally joins a growing number of Texas colleges and universities that have created gaming arenas and varsity teams for esports competition.

  • Concordia University Texas in 2019 became one of the first Texas schools to launch a dedicated arena for its varsity gaming team, featuring Alienware and Logitech gear, a dedicated production system for streaming and a lounge area for viewers.

Why it matters: UT's esports investment is a small part of a booming $1 billion esports industry, where throngs of fans show up to competitions across the country and players have a chance to win big payouts.

  • Three months ago, six members of the U.S. armed forces competed in a Halo Infinite tournament in San Antonio, a novel and federally sanctioned esports event.

What they're saying: UT and Dell Technologies officials celebrated the opening of the lounge and future arena during a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.

  • "The new facility not only promotes greater visibility for esports at UT, it marks the beginning of an exciting new era of competition and community," said UT president Jay Hartzell.

Of note: UT has a club team — Longhorn Gaming — but does not yet offer a varsity team.

  • Founded in 2010, Longhorn Gaming has 3,750 members, including students, faculty members, alumni and others outside UT.
  • The group offered input on the creation of the facility.
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