Enterprise Square’s Graduate Services and Records area will soon become the central area for Oklahoma Christian University’s esports team. Lucas Hayworth, the director of esports, headed the project along with Chief Operations Officer, John Hermes, and Athletic Director, David Lynn.
“We’ve been discussing since day one what would be a temporary or permanent space for esports,” Hayworth said.
Hayworth said Hermes, Lynn and President John deSteiguer have been supportive of the esports team and their expansion from the start. The renovation, however, took a while to start and began roughly four weeks ago.
The esports team, which consists of 40 members, has been using the front lobby and several rooms in Enterprise Square. For practice, Rocket League games and tournament matches, the team has two supportive team rooms with five PCs, as well as a room with Legion equipment and a separate room with Alienware equipment. The rooms are functional, Hayworth said, but the Internet has dropped or glitched frequently.
“We’ve had the power drop on us mid-scrim before,” Hayworth said. “You’re running a relay and you round a corner, and you get rubber-banded right back where you started.”
Director of Physical Plant Services, Cary Falling, said one of the challenges they had was the temporary space not being made for gaming equipment.
“What we’re going to do is put some more circuits so they can play without tripping breakers so the temporary space can function,” Falling said.
Hayworth said the esports team and the gaming club, of which he is a sponsor, both require a space geared towards their craft.
“Just as other traditional sports require a space for practice and equipment, we need a dedicated space for our own tasks – league, tournaments, practice, etc.,” Hayworth said.
Other universities such as the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have esports communities and facilities on campus. The University of Oklahoma’s esports club has over 1,000 members, and Oklahoma State University built a new esports facility in spring 2021.
Falling said the gaming area will eventually include 16 computers on the east wall, two rows of tables facing each other, an office with a window and a break area. On the south wall, there will be a staging area with a stage, an audience area and large monitors for viewing.
“We’re working out the details of how much power and what it’s going to look like,” Falling said. “On a project like this, you have a good idea, but as it progresses, you see there’s some molding you have to do with it.”
One issue Falling and Hayworth expressed concern over another issue, too.
“We’re going to have everyone in this open area with vaulted ceilings, so sound will probably be a key factor,” Hayworth said.
Falling said the next tasks in the process are running the electric elements and lights, which will be handled by Ethan Ellis, the electrician on staff. Afterwards, the team will start finishing the walls and painting.
Falling estimates the renovation should be completed within four to six weeks.
Hayworth said the new space will be an asset for continued growth.
“We have not had a representable home space or any pictures or anything to show off to prospective students or sponsors, and a central home base for us is extremely crucial to getting there to prove we’re a legitimate program,” Hayworth said.
In addition to outside recognition, Hayworth mentioned how important team camaraderie was to him.
“I don’t care if you win, lose – I just want people to take things seriously, to try their hardest, to learn, show an effort and be nice to each other,” Hayworth said.
Berry said the space will hopefully become a place for the entire student body and not just the gaming community.
“We hope to see people just chilling in there and really making it feel like home,” Berry said. “The hub will improve the connection between the students and the esports program.”
Students can get a taste of the gaming community at Oklahoma Christian at the Smash Varsity team’s free-to-play tournament every Saturday at 7 p.m. in Enterprise Square. Berry said he encouraged people to “settle it in Smash!”