Allied Esports and the University of Nevada Las Vegas cut the ribbon to unveil a new state-of-the-art gaming lounge on the school’s campus on January 24.
The Tonopah Esports Lounge, located within the Tonopah dormitory, features 25 PCs with gaming monitors, headsets, mouse pads, gaming mouses and ergonomic gaming chairs. All the equipment and accessories were provided by Allied Esports, which owns and operates the 30,000-square-foot HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor, miles from campus.
“We’ve been working for years to collaborate with UNLV,” said Mark Green, chief operating officer of Allied Esports and the HyperX Arena. “When I first started working at Allied in 2018, I saw that the Vegas Golden Knights had teamed up with the UNLV hockey team and gave them a place to play. And we thought, ‘why not do the same thing for esports?’ So we pulled a space for UNLV over at HyperX Arena, their own room where they could work and train.”
The next step is the Tonopah Esports Lounge, which will be open from noon to midnight for use by not only the UNLV esports team, but also any student with a valid ID.
UNLV President Keith Whitfield helped cut the ribbon and engage with students in the new space. He says when he arrived at UNLV four years ago, esports were one of the first things he asked about.
“I helped to create and launch an esports area at the last university I was at, but it was nothing like this,” Whitfield said. “And it’s because the other school didn’t have an external partner, so Mark’s commitment is important for us. He understands that there’s great opportunities here and he wants to make opportunities for our students. And those are the kind of people that we pull in real close, because we want to be able to work with them.”
Whitfield tasked Dr. Keith Rogers, UNLV vice president for student affairs, to up the ante when it came to the school’s esports presence on campus. Rogers ran with the initiative, which has now led to a common space for students who enjoy gaming to interact and spend time with each other.
“It’s going to do wonders for the student experience,” Rogers said. “I also see other applications for the space. We have a lot of high school and middle school students who come here on our college tours and stay here during the summer. So I definitely see possibilities of incorporating this space as part of their experience and connection to the university.”
This is Allied Esports’ first partnership with a university. Green says the HyperX Arena received new computer systems from HP, but the ones they’ve donated to Tonopah are still top of the line.
“This space looks the same, feels the same and plays the same as if you were in HyperX Arena,” Green said. “The esports team here is thrilled; they have wanted this to happen for a long time. UNLV called me and said they had a space available and asked if we could help them design it, but we went ahead and just did it for them.”
Green, Whitfield and Rogers all spoke at the ceremonial ribbon cutting in front of a packed room of media and UNLV gamers and students. Rogers sees the space as more than a place for students to improve their gaming skills.
“It gives the students another outlet to de-stress or to deal with trauma they may be experiencing from different things happening in their educational journey,” Rogers said. “It’s a place for students to come even if they’re not gaming; they may just want to come and hang out with fellow roommates or friends who are gamers. And I think this space could definitely have benefits from a mental health standpoint.”
As well as a mental health aid, Whitfield sees the gaming lounge as a place where students can hone skills they will use after they graduate.
“There’s the fun part of gaming, but there’s actually parts of it that for higher education — for somebody getting a degree — we want you to learn those same things. Like working as a team, problem solving, analytical or inductive sorts of thinking,” Whitfield said. “It actually will help improve the kinds of skills that they’ll be able to take into the marketplace when they go out and get a job.”
The lounge will also be utilized for non-gaming activities, including watch parties or as an overflow computer lab. Extended hours will be available, with 24/7 access possible depending on demand.