Western Michigan University will show off its newest high-tech facility during a grand opening from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, for the WMU Esports Arena, previously known as the Little Theatre.
The event will give Kalamazoo community members and alumni returning for WMU's homecoming weekend a chance to tour the facility, check out its state-of-the-art technology, and, if time permits, test their gaming skills.
The arena is located on the corner of Oakland Drive and Oliver Street in Kalamazoo. Free parking will be available behind the building in Lot 10, and a short distance away in lots 11 and 12. All three lots are off of Oliver Street.
The arena will serve as home base for the Esports @ WMU Club, a team of students who compete in esports at the intercollegiate level. William Garetto-Balmer, club president, and other members of the group will be on hand to talk about esports and their club as well as demonstrate the arena's technology.
That technology includes 36 gaming machines with high-resolution monitors, headsets, special keyboards and mice, and ergonomic gaming chairs. Twelve of the machines are used as competition computers, and all the remainder as practice machines.
All are positioned on stage in front of auditorium seating for up to 190 people. In addition, two large projection screens allow spectators to follow game play, while music as well as specialized lighting heighten the gaming experience for both players and spectators.
The purpose of formally sponsoring video gaming on campus is to extend WMU's community-building efforts so they encompass students' recreational hours. Funding has come from a grant from WMU President Edward Montgomery's Transformational Initiative Fund and relevant vice presidential areas.
The University is exploring opening up the Esports Arena down the road to additional WMU students as well as area high school teams and community groups.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.