SUNY Canton Unveils New ‘Esports Arena’
The college has partnered with Extreme Networks and Alienware to outfit a competitive gaming space.
SUNY Canton has opened the first collegiate esports arena in the State University of New York system. It is one of the largest dedicated gaming installations in the Northeast.
The 1,800 square-foot gaming room went online with the start of classes as the home for the college’s growing esports program. There will be a grand opening for the “eSports Arena” featuring competitive gameplay in October.
“Our arena is modeled after a professional gaming environment,” said SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran. “The atmosphere and technology provide an overall immersive experience. It will give our students a competitive edge as they face off against rival college teams.”
“This space is one of a kind in SUNY,” said Kyle Brown, assistant vice president of information technology. “We’ve partnered with industry leader Extreme Networks to provide high-speed networking for the room and Alienware to equip the space with high-end Area 51 computers.”
Extreme’s Smart OmniEdge and Automated Campus solutions deliver high-speed WiFi, management and analytics capabilities so SUNY Canton can optimize network resources and troubleshoot on the fly, ensuring optimal performance.
“Every millisecond counts during an esports game, and a robust network is a prerequisite when it comes to preventing potential performance issues, such as connectivity glitches or slow Internet connection,” said Bob Nilsson, director of vertical solutions at Extreme Networks. “By deploying our high-density, low-latency network solutions that are used by professional sports venues across the nation, SUNY Canton can ensure a seamless, stable connection whether practicing or in the heat of competition.”
With 25 high-end gaming rigs, SUNY Canton now has the largest installation of Alienware machines in New York state, according to company representatives.
Each station is equipped with ergonomic gaming chairs, multicolored LED backlit mechanical keyboards and mice. The room itself has been retooled with indirect lighting, lockers for the students and a team meeting space that will double as a streaming station for live broadcasts. In addition to the high-end gaming computers, the college added stations with both Sony PS4 Pro and Microsoft Xbox One X consoles to add future gameplay options.
The room was funded through the SUNY Canton Provost’s Office to facilitate further growth in the programs closely related to esports. In addition to Game Design and Development, the college offers Cybersecurity, Graphic and Multimedia Design and Technological Communications.
“Academically speaking, the addition of esports enriches the student experience,” said Douglas M. Scheidt, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “It also adds more opportunities for our online students, who account for more than 25 percent of our overall population.”
SUNY Canton became the first SUNY College to offer varsity esports in December 2018. Teams play as members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the most prominent nationally recognized organization dedicated to competitive collegiate video gaming. The college also orchestrates matches through the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association (ECAC), in addition to University League of Legends (ULOL).
“The new Roos eSports Arena is one of the top college competition spaces in the nation,” said Randy B. Sieminski, director of athletics. “By adding this space, SUNY Canton has shown its strong commitment toward our esports future. As a result, we will continue to see an increase in student recruitment, engagement and retention, mirroring our traditional athletic offerings.”
The college recently added both FIFA and Fortnite to its fall lineup. Other teams include Overwatch, League of Legends and Hearthstone.
As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 22 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.