University of California-Irvine next week opens the first eSports arena run by a public university.
The Sept. 23 event includes top-ranked players recruited for UCI’s League of Legends team. League of Legends was developed by Los Angeles-based Riot Games and is the world’s largest competitive video game, drawing millions of viewers to events.
The 3,500-square-foot iBuyPower Arena includes 80 custom PCs from iBuyPower in Industry, Calif., and a live webcasting broadcast studio, and cost about $250,000 to build; UCI said no public funding was used.
The arena is open to the public for about $4 per hour.
The gaming event is part of UCI’s eSports program in its Institute for Virtual Environments & Computer Games that will launch next week.
The research university will offer up to 10 academic scholarships on its competitive gaming team.
The Institute links multidisciplinary research projects in anthropology, art, computer science, engineering, history, medicine, psychology, science and technology.
ESports is a growing segment of competitive gaming that’s going mainstream, a shift evident by the rise of corporate backers, college scholarships for hard-core gamers, and greater ability to obtain work visas in the U.S. through the mastery of a joystick, controller or keyboard.
Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment Inc. and Kingston Technology Inc. in Fountain Valley are local firms involved in the trend, that’s attracting stadium-size crowds to venues as well as millions of online viewers.
College Magazine last year ranked UCI No. 1 for gamers based on the types of computer equipment for students, the quality of its gaming teams and gaming programs that include the new eSports offering.