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Esports at Iowa State lets students compete in tournaments around the world. 

Since Feb. 1, a free space for students known as the gaming and esports room helps more of the Iowa State community explore the world of gaming, according to students.

Esports, or electronic sports, describes the world of competitive, organized video gaming, according to CNN. The esports room provides free rentals for gaming equipment, consoles and video games to Iowa State students.

The esports room features more than 30 desktop computers and four gaming consoles, including PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The esports room also plans to add PS5 and Xbox Series X. Students can reserve a time to use one of the gaming PCs, while the consoles are available for walk-in use. 

The gaming and esports club at Iowa State has 10 different esports teams that compete in national tournaments.

Teams in the gaming and esports club can reserve space to practice in a specialized room designed for competitive gaming. Derek Patel, junior in aerospace engineering and esports coordinator for the gaming and Gaming and Esports Club, said the club hopes to eventually host tournaments in the esports room so teams can compete with one another in the same space. 

“It’s a lot easier to make changes on the fly as a team when you can see everyone’s face,” Patel said.

Iowa State Gaming and Esports Club President Tanner Holte, senior in mathematics, agreed the gaming space benefits the club’s esports teams.

“All of our esports teams are helped out a lot by the existence of the esports room," Holte said. "It was really built with the club in mind."

Holte said the gaming and esports room is an addition to the recreation services that support students' overall mental health and happiness. 

“We have gyms for when you want to work out your body," Holte said. "Now, we have a gaming space for when you want to play games and work out your mind."

Holte also said some professors are utilizing the esports room to study gaming and conduct research on how it impacts mental health and learning. 

The esports room gives students the opportunity to try out new consoles or games without the expense of purchasing it themselves. 

“This space is great for a casual player who might not have access to the hardware,” Holte said. “Gaming PCs can cost $2,000 or more, so a focus of the gaming room was to make this expensive equipment available to more students.”

John Zefran, sophomore in marketing, visited the esports room to play a Nintendo Switch game with a friend. Zefran said he is not a serious gamer, but he was interested in the esports room when he read about it online.

“I just wanted to check it out and play some games,” Zefran said. 

Kasey Sullivan, senior in microbiology, also came to the esports room to try out a new gaming system. Sullivan said the esports room made gaming more accessible to her because she did not have access to the console at home. 

Holte hopes the gaming and esports room will help make gaming more accessible to casual players. 

“I don’t want it to be a space that only competitive people participate in,” Holte said. “You don’t need any experience with computers to come in and try computer games.”

The esports room follows COVID-19 guidelines put in place by the university and requires face coverings at all times. Equipment is sanitized before and after checkout, and the gaming stations are disinfected after every use. The space is currently operating at half capacity. 

The room is open from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday in Beyer Hall.

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