CCSU’s Esports Center is About More Than Just Gaming


File photo from Kristina Vakhman

The E-Sports room is now up and running in Memorial Hall.

Andrew DeCapua, Sports Editor

After you walk through the glass door leading to Central Connecticut State University’s Esports Center, you are greeted with the sounds of gaming controllers clicking, and the sights of four massive 80-inch flat-screen televisions accompanied by rows of high-end gaming computers.

The Esports Center is not just a hub for some impressive tech, but is also a place where CCSU students can come together to socialize and meet friends. Other than the unmistakable sound of buttons being mashed and computer mice being furiously clicked, you could hear the banter and conversations. Some are a little more intense than others, but one thing that is evident in all the banter is a sense of community and togetherness. A staple of what gaming is truly meant to be.

As I sat and observed everything that was happening in the Esports Center, the one thing that stood out was the sense of inclusion and togetherness. Friends battled and engaged in friendly trash talk as they played Dragon Ball Xenoverse together, and people worked together as they played Super Smash Bros., with one student helping others learn how to play the game.

As soon as you enter the Esports Center, there is a welcome sign that says, “CCSU views esports as a way for students to build peer groups, meet new friends, and collaborate in a competitive and respectful environment while working together.”

On any given day, dozens of CCSU students come together to enjoy each other’s company and participate in cooperative and competitive gaming. With 20 Dell Alienware Computers, four PlayStation 5 consoles, four Xbox Series X consoles, four Nintendo Switch consoles, and a library of over 100 games across all platforms, there is something for every gamer imaginable.

Some students even bring in their own gaming devices to the Esports Center. Brian Rivera, a CCSU student and employee at the Esports Center, said he often utilizes the equipment provided but sometimes brings his own.

“I use the consoles we have here, but also bring my own devices like my Steam Deck,” Rivera said.

A “Steam Deck” is a new portable handheld gaming device that allows gamers to access and play their library of computer games on the go. Rivera also said that some students opt to ditch the newer, next-generation lineup of devices for the retro ones like the Nintendo Wii, which was released in November 2006 and discontinued in October 2013.

“Someone, before, on a Saturday, even brought in a Nintendo Wii,” Rivera said.

Every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Esports Center hosts several events that teach students how to do various things involving gaming and esports. The next event will take place on Saturday, April 1, and will teach students how to livestream while playing video games.

The Esports Center also hosts the monthly Super Smash Bros. Tournaments that the CCSU Esports and Gaming Club conducts.

The university has an intercollege Esports team that competes against other universities and colleges in games such as Super Smash Bros., Overwatch, and Valorant.

Mason Babbitt, a student and employee of the Esports Center, said that the busiest time during the weekdays is 2 p.m.

“Around 2 p.m. is the most popular time, I would say,” Babbitt said. “Like when people are going between classes.”

According to Babbitt, most CCSU students come to use the Dell Alienware Computers, but the gaming consoles also get plenty of use.

“Typically, people come and use the PCs, but some people come to use the console to play with their friends,” Babbitt said.

Boasting an Intel Core i7 processor and an AMD graphics card, the Dell Alienware Computers are capable of faster loading times and higher frame rates than the gaming consoles, so it’s no wonder why the computers are more popular.

Other than gaming, the 20 computers also offer learning opportunities outside the world of gaming. The potential of the Dell Alienware computers opens possibilities for research in the fields of interactive media design and game development, according to CCSU’s official Esports webpage.

Besides the computers and consoles, the Esports Center has a shout-casting room equipped with green screens, microphones, and cameras for Esports events. The shout caster is the color commentator for Esports tournaments, like color commentators in athletic sporting events.

The Esports Center, established in 2019, is located in Memorial Hall and is open every day of the week as early as 10 a.m. on some days, and closes as late as 11 p.m.