GVSU Laker Esports Center Takes the Win with Extron
After attending Extron webinars and studying their Esports Design Guide and other reference materials, I felt confident that we could design our esports center in house. With a little help from Extron engineers, we did.
Grand Valley State University, the fourth largest university in Michigan, had an initiative to add an esports gaming center. However, allocating funds for this entertainment space had been a low priority. When incoming university President Philomena V. Mantella took the helm, she was determined to establish the Laker Esports Center for students on campus.
To adhere to a strict budget for this student entertainment venue, the university's design team carefully compared furniture and AV equipment. The AV system had to provide optimal image scaling and high performance switching and routing while being an economical solution. The system components had to have proven reliability, durability, and flexibility, as well as be easy and practical to operate and support. Also, system control had to be intuitive for users at various skill levels.
Players would wear headphones with a microphone to help maintain their focus. However, the coaches and spectators needed a way to see and hear the action and player exchanges. In addition, the AV system components would be the same or in the same family of products as used in existing campus spaces. The solution was an esports AV system based on Extron switching, audio, and control systems.
The next step was to locate the ideal esports gaming space. The Facilities Planning team repurposed an underutilized workout room on the lower level of the Kirkhof Center building. The space was cloistered, windowless, and with minimal direct light. Lighting levels within the room were adjustable. An adjacent dining hall allowed students and staff to observe gameplay between classes. These features made the room highly conducive to computer-based gaming and competitions.
The room is small, at 36’ x 32.5’ with 996 square feet of usable space. The esports center layout takes advantage of every square foot, encompassing a total of 25 gaming stations in five groups, or pods. Four of the pods consist of three to four stations each and are located around the room perimeter. A long table down the center provides 10 stations in two rows of five. The coach's station is at one end of the long table, and dual 75” displays are mounted on the opposite wall.
To furnish the space, the university was able to partner with local furniture manufacturer Herman Miller® for the tables, Logitech® gaming chairs, and accessories. Dell™ provided Alienware™ Area‑51 gaming PCs.
Students can play individually or as a team, and two or more pods can be involved in group play simultaneously. The large displays can show the same content or a combination of gameplay, player stats, and background data or information with commentator contributions. The coach selects the content for each wall-mounted display within the room, as well as for the three 75” wall-mounted displays in the dining hall. To extend AV and control signals from the rack-mounted components in the esports center's utility room to the five displays, content is distributed over an economical, shielded twisted pair cable infrastructure.
As with the other installations on campus, the AV system is Extron. The IT team designed the AV system in house using a
DTP System Engages All in the Game
TouchLink Pro Provides System Control from Multiple Points
The AV system can be controlled using any of the Extron
The Laker Esports Center draws students from across campus to this previously under-utilized space to participate. Its popularity has grown exponentially simply by word of mouth. The next stage is to launch learning programs that instruct students on the business of esports, such as videography, statistical analysis, and organizing and hosting competitions. Offerings will include theory and practical first-hand experience working with the AV equipment and the related technologies.
While the esports center is unique for GVSU, integration of the same types of reliable AV products used across campus ensures that the support team knows just what to do to keep the action going. “We standardized on Extron because they're built well, have the features we want, and they last,” says John Klein at GVSU.