UC Berkeley New Esports Community Center Questions & Answers

eSports players

UC Berkeley announced partnerships with the NRG/SF Shock, the Northern California-based professional esports organization, and Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, the world’s most-played PC game.

UC Berkeley will collaborate with these and other sponsors to launch an esports intramural league, the new campus esports community center at the Foothill complex in fall 2018, and other initiatives.

We’ve included some frequently asked questions here regarding the new esports community center for the UC Berkeley community. If you have any additional questions, please direct them to: BusDev@Berkeley.edu 


Where will the new Berkeley esports community center be located?

The Student Affairs Division is planning for a future community center for esports at the location of the current Foothill Academic Center, with a planned Fall 2018 opening. 

Who’s going to be able to use this center?

Student Affairs anticipates that this center will serve the entire student body in some way, but exact details are still being finalized. 

Will the center be open to faculty, staff, or members of the external community?

Initially, the center will only be open to the students. We want to gauge student demand and develop the community center’s programming before determining whether the space will be open to other groups. Given the limited space and the strong student interest, we don’t have plans to open the center up to the general public at this time.

When will it open?

Given the space only needs minor cosmetic improvements, we anticipate the new center will open by fall 2018. Additional details on the grand opening and hours will be shared later this summer.

Similar esports centers charge by the hour. Will there be a fee to use it?

We anticipate that the center will be open to all students in some capacity, in addition to offering specific hours for members. We are in the process of developing our membership model and we will share more details this summer before the center’s opening in fall 2018.

What’s going to happen to the current Foothill Academic Center?

The current Foothill Academic Center was selected to become the new esports community center because it was an outdated, underleveraged space that was originally designed with old technology and study practices in mind (e.g. desktop computers all in a row facing a wall).

While the current academic center needs to be modernized, it has good “bones” and will only require cosmetic updates, updated technology, and furnishings to convert the space into the esports center. Esports sponsors will be helping cover the costs of converting the space through in kind equipment contributions and cash sponsorships. 

Over the summer, the Foothill Academic Center will be relocated into another underutilized room between buildings 7 and 8. This room, which served as the Foothill Academic Center just a few years ago, will also receive cosmetic updates and some new furnishings, such as soft, movable furniture, to make it an improved, more collaborative study space.

To minimize the impact on students, any changes to the community center will occur over the summer, after the spring semester ends and before the start of the upcoming fall semester.

How is this encouraging student wellness?

The university views student wellness with a holistic approach, and this includes opportunities for student to engage in healthy social activities such as esports. Our ability to transcend and diversify traditional programming creates greater opportunities for our students to participate, connect, and create inclusive experiences.  One of the key pillars of the initiative is “wellness.” We will be working with Cal Rec Sports and students to encourage healthy habits (and provide information on campus resources) regarding nutrition, health, physical (including ergonomic) and mental wellness, academics, and sleep. 

How is this related to the campus academic mission?

The university views student wellness with a holistic approach, and this includes opportunities for student to engage in healthy social activities such as esports - but also our many other student organizations, athletic and recreational sports, Cal Greeks organizations, etc. Esports have proven to provide learning opportunities in addition to providing a social space for students to engage in group activities that build a shared sense of community.

Esports is bigger than just the competitive gaming, it’s also a growing job market. One important component of this partnership includes Career Center initiatives to help create career opportunities for students in this expanding job market. The new esports space will also have programming, such as TED-style talks on gaming, that will help build a shared sense of community and belonging around gaming.

The campus already has 8 gaming DeCals on campus, and we are exploring ways to expand on this in partnership with academic departments to tie-in learning experiences with esports. We are in the beginning stages of those discussions and we hope to have more details on these plans in the near future. 

How are you ensuring gender equity for this planned center?

Student Affairs believes it’s critical to have the right stakeholders at the table for these discussions, and we are working to make any future esports center accessible to new and diverse audiences. 

One of the center’s key initiatives is gender diversity in gaming. The campus has established a working group, co-led by two of UC Berkeley’s female gaming community leaders, which includes representatives from the Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE) theme program, women who live in Foothill, Residential Education, and students in the gaming community, to develop our Women in Gaming initiative. The Women in Gaming Initiative’s key goals include: equality, empowerment, and integration. The initiative is focused on shifting the perception of women in gaming to bring equality to the campus esports community and, by extension, the gaming community at large. The effort is still in the early stages and we will have more information to share as it develops.

Gaming takes up a lot of internet bandwidth. What are you doing to ensure it won’t have a negative impact on internet speeds for those living at Foothill or those on campus?

One of our top priorities is ensuring that the new esports center doesn’t disrupt core campus operations, including internet usage. We are currently doing testing and will increase the bandwidth if needed.