University of Iowa brings gaming to campus in Iowa Memorial Union esports room

The Esports at Iowa club members are confident the new room will bring opportunities to the Esports at Iowa club and students

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Gabby Drees

The Iowa Memorial Union is seen at the University of Iowa on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022.

Colin Votzmeyer, News Reporter


An official esports room is coming to the University of Iowa Memorial Union this fall.

With the esports audience now at over half a billion people, the UI is taking advantage of the many opportunities a unified esports community could bring to the school and its students by bringing an esports lounge in room G335 of the IMU. The room is set to open early this semester.

Jamarco Clark, UI assistant dean and director of leadership and engagement, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that the room is 2,700 square feet and offers gaming’s top equipment to the university’s esports scene.

“It includes 24 gaming computer systems and three console stations that give guests access to the latest in Xbox Series X, PS5, and Nintendo Switch games played on 65” OLED TVs,” Clark wrote. “The opening date of the esports lounge is still to be determined, but we expect an opening date early in the semester.”

Clark wrote the room greatly benefits the university’s student gamers.

“The establishment of an esports lounge represents an emerging trend in higher education and will provide another engagement opportunity for students,” Clark wrote. “The space will be available for open gaming and will also be reservable for the club teams to practice and host tournaments.”

The UI’s esports student organization, Esports at Iowa, with also utilize the new esports room.

Esports at Iowa is divided into various subgroups for different video games, in which members can play either recreationally or competitively.

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Zachary Darr, a UI second-year student, is a member of the Super Smash Bros and fighting games esports groups at Iowa. Darr said he, along with other members of the group, are thrilled about the room’s development.

“I love the esports scene at Iowa,” Darr said. “I know personally we’ve been waiting for it for a long time, and I was so happy with this room I applied for a job for it.”

The room also allows the club to expand its reach to even more Iowa students, as there is now a central meeting place for them, he said.

“It should be a very good opportunity for more people to join into the esports group because it will lead to a more unified community if everybody’s using the same room,” Darr said. “I know personally I’ve met a lot of people in other groups that I wouldn’t normally talk to. I think for incoming freshmen especially, that’s an important aspect to kind of see that community bringing people together.”

With Esports at Iowa now having its own home to host competitive tournaments, Darr said the university could also gain notoriety with its name attached to winning esports competitions.

If the UI’s esports room is exhibited enough, Darr said the introduction of esports scholarships could attract more students to UI.

Esports events in the new room could also attract sponsors. The esports club hosts end-of-year gatherings where all groups within the organization come together to play, and big-name companies like Coca-Cola have sponsored such UI events in the past, Darr said.

Tanner Welsh, a UI fourth-year student studying mathematics, an Esports at Iowa club member, said he is optimistic that the IMU’s esports room will be a source of revenue for the university.

“There is definitely money to be made with esports-related events,” Welsh said. “There are plenty of companies who have been looking to sponsor events.”

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