$50'000 eSports gaming venue coming to Adelaide Uni

The space is expected to be ready by Semester 2, but the Union thinks there should have been more consultation first

Adelaide University Sport has allocated $50,000 of 2021 Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) for the establishment of an esports gaming complex. The new facility will be located in the basement of the Lady Symon building, with the funds being used to purchase equipment, including new gaming computers and chairs.

AU Sport General Manager, Michelle Wilson, says the new complex will offer a “greater student experience and opportunities for participation” by having a designated space on campus.

AU eSports Club Vice-President, Ned Weinert, says that previously students were using bookable rooms on campus and playing over Discord servers.

It is our understanding that AU Sport approached the LoL club to initiate discussion, as they were using an Internet cafe at the time for events.

What esports activities will the space support?

This new club — AU eSports — says their hope for the new complex is that it will provide a “social space for club members”, in addition to being a site with “training, tournament hosting and streaming facilities”.

They also noted that they will explore the possibility of making the space “bookable” for the wider campus community.

Is $50,000 too much?

The decision to allocate $50,000 of the SSAF to an esports complex is not unheard of. The University of Canberra also budgeted the same amount for their esports space. In fact, based on the proportion of esports funding to total SSAF funds, Adelaide University spent a lesser percentage (0.83%) of SSAF than The University of Canberra (1.27%).

Regardless, Adelaide University Union President Angela Qin said the Union is not sure if a new esports venue should be a top priority for the space.

Ms Qin says that the Clubs Lounge — a social and events space all clubs can access — was shifted from Lady Symon to Hartley in 2019 as a “short-term measure”. However, the Union is yet to hear from University infrastructure on a new location for the lounge, “despite numerous enquiries”.

“AUU would advocate for our non-sporting clubs (of which there are more than 150) which are still waiting to be provided with a permanent clubs lounge on campus after nearly two years of discussions,” stated Ms Qin.

Complaints were made last year about the Hartley lounge’s poor maintenance, including weak wi-fi, broken lights, and a malfunctioning air conditioner. Last year, AUU General Manager, Gary Sutherland, suggested up to $4 million of surplus funds from the Union House redevelopment could be used to upgrade the space. No further announcements have been made about the proposal yet.

Qin said the Union was not offered a bid for the tender of the space, nor consulted during the project’s development or presented with a project plan. However, Qin, SRC President Oscar Ong, and DVCA were present at the SSAF consultative committee where it was approved unanimously.

Are there wider benefits to an esports space?

Notably, AU Sport discussed a link between participating in esports and students’ academic achievements and employability.

“Students who are interested in sports including esports have a higher tendency to be academic achievers…interested in high-paying STEM fields that are valued by employers”, stated Wilson, with reference to an article from Forbes.

When asked by On Dit for further clarification on this point, AU Sport said they consider it a “positive outcome” to encourage the “recruitment and retention of students as well as increasing the chances of employability”. A 2019 AU Sport survey showed that “students wanted to participate in less traditional sports e.g. cricket, football and wanted AU Sport to be more relevant and explore areas such as esports and online challenges.”

The venue is expected to be operational by Semester 2.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Grace Atta, Habibah Jaghoori, Jenny Jung & Chanel Trezise. Get in touch: onditmag@gmail.com