Carolina Gaming Arena, the University of North Carolina’s first esports facility, was created by renovating a little-used residence hall rec room. Working with UNC Housing, the design team began by stripping the room down to the core so it could be fully customized as an esports facility.
The facility includes 36 PC stations and three game console zones. A 16-foot gaming wall comprised of screens is located on one wall, with a viewing area positioned nearby for gamers to watch and cheer on their teammates.
Upon entering the arena, which is free to all student users, players head to a check-in station where they are provided with the status of availability, progress of current games, and to check leaderboards. A virtual concierge appears on one of the 7-foot vertical screens mounted on columns will be available to help new gamers.
The gaming arena is housed in the lowest level of Craige Hall, which is centrally located on UNC’s campus. At night, the glow of the space spills across the adjacent lawn, acting as a natural advertisement of the space to many students passing by one of the campus’s main thoroughfares.
Director at UNC ResNet, Lee Hyde, says of the space, “The thing we’re most surprised by with Carolina Gaming Arena is not what we envisioned it to be, but watching the impression of every student who walks in the room. You see their breath sort of pause for a moment as they take it in.”