You start to understand how e-sports is a real thing when you read a piece about a U.S. college investing $6 million on a screen-filled competitive gaming arena.
AVIXA, the trade association behind Infocomm and ISE, has a case study up on its website about Full Sail University, a media-arts college in the greater Orlando area. The college will open The Fortress in mid-May, an 11,200-square-foot esports arena that will seat as many as 500 spectators to watch their fellow students play gaming titles like Overwatch, League of Legends, and Hearthstone.
The player teams will be locked on 27-inch gaming monitors (which seems small when you consider there are 49-inch gaming monitors out there). The fans will be watching the action on a 2.9mm Absen LED, measuring 36 by 11.5 feet. That’s the largest LED. There is also a circular LED display, 24 feet in circumference and arrayed in a halo above the competition dais.
The facility also has concert-grade L-Acoustics sound systems.
Says the case study:
In terms of scale and technology, it’s more appropriate to compare The Fortress to the new generation of professional competitive video-gaming venues that have sprouted in the last two years, such as the Esports Arena Las Vegas, the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, Calif., and Blizzard Arena LA in Los Angeles, than to compare to the rapidly proliferating range of esports “arenas” at smaller colleges and universities, many of which are often repurposed rooms on campus using a combination of new and scavenged AV equipment, as schools hurry to implement video game teams and places for them to train and compete. But the rapid growth at both ends of the venue spectrum underscores how important competitive video gaming has become to college and university sports departments.
Full Sail’s Fortress has to serve two key functions: sports and higher education.
“What sets this apart from both the esports venues being built on campuses and commercial esports arenas is that The Fortress is designed to accommodate spectators, and to act as an educational classroom facility,” explains Bennett Newsome, Full Sail’s Esports Strategist, itself a new job title created for the school’s new esports arena and team. “We can support events like invitational tournaments here as well as any other sports arena — we designed it so that there’s not a bad seat in the house — but it’s also a complete classroom environment, where we can teach the skills of gaming and of the audio, video, lighting and control around it.”
Foreign world to me. Full Sail is more like a trade show than a classic university/college, and is focused on entertainment and media jobs. It doesn’t, as far as I can tell, have things like football and basketball teams. For the big schools, $6 million is a fraction of their athletic budgets.
It’s a bit of a reach to call this digital signage, but certainly presents an interesting new vertical for both LED and LCD display companies, particularly given the hyper-competition.