The Wildcat Gaming lobby is open to all students

Surrounded by students wearing headphones, fingers flying above keyboards as they remained laser-focused on their computer screens, President Gayle Hutchinson and Associate Student President Krystal Alverez threw their entire bodies into a epic Mario Kart game.

Diving left and right, leaning deep into every turn, the friendly competitors laughed and gasped as the surrounding crowd cheered them on. For Kendall Ross, director of recreational sports, the official opening of the university’s new gaming hall highlighted the potential of the space in a big way.

“It’s so important. It’s a unique and awesome space that gives us the opportunity to recruit and retain students with a sense of belonging and new on-campus services,” Ross said.

The game lobby offers PC games, console games, arcade games, board games, and more. Its regular hours will be 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and students will need their Wildcat ID to enter. The entrance is located on the Warner Street side of Whitney Hall, up the exterior stairs, and next to a giant vinyl sign announcing its presence.

With nearly every play station occupied and dozens of other students watching from behind the scenes, the September 1 grand opening included tours and exhibition play. The program is run by Recreational Sports, which also oversees the University’s intramural sports, athletic clubs, and youth summer camps.

“A large group of people coming together out of love or curiosity about something is wonderful, and having a space to do that is really wonderful,” said Bennie Ksiazek, a computer animation and game development student, noting that more than 170 people tuned in to the grand opening livestream on Twitch. “It makes campus play serious and legitimized. I hope we can keep the hype going.

AS President Krystal Alvarez (left) and University President Gayle Hutchinson play a game of Mario Kart during the grand opening of the Wildcat Gaming Lobby.

The lobby’s presence makes Chico State the fifth CSU campus to have a designated play space. Esports is the fastest growing sport in the world and last year sales surpassed the music and music industries combined, Ross said.

“Our goal with this space is to create inclusive games as an alternative means of wellbeing,” she said. “We know our students play, especially as it has grown in popularity during COVID, and we want campus to be an option for that hobby and interest.”

Students said it not only fosters a positive social atmosphere and a sense of community, but it also creates opportunities to work on skills such as strategy and logic.

“Video games mean different things to different people,” Ksiazek said. “Some people use it to relieve stress. I use it to practice focus. And it’s another way to meet new people and bond with friends.

Senior Emily Ramos, an education student who admitted she was not an avid gamer, said working as a lobby staff member was a fun way to expand her knowledge and learn a new skill. She found the other students to be both welcoming and supportive, and said it was nice to have another space to entertain on campus.

“Not everyone is interested in going to WREC,” she said. “It only adds. It’s hard to say ‘Why should we have this?’ Why shouldn’t we?

Recreational Sports is working to collaborate with the Computer Animation and Games Department on partnership opportunities and to better serve students. The Gaming Lobby will also help Chico State Gaming Club move further into competitive PC gaming. The club currently has about 40 active members, with about 40 other students who show up intermittently at its events and gatherings.

“PC gaming is often considered the pinnacle of gaming. It’s the most beautiful and the most intense, and it’s also the most expensive,” Ksiazek said. because it makes it more accessible.”

A student sits at a computer and plays a video game in the new Gaming Lobby.
Ankit Vankineni enjoys the grand opening of the Wildcat Gaming Lobby.

Music industry major Senior Angel Tapia is excited to now hang out in the lobby between classes, rather than going home. She’s especially looking forward to seeing how Dungeons & Dragons can grow at Chico State with such space.

“A lot of people were expecting something like this,” added rookie Kadence Simmons, a psychology student. “I’ve heard so many people say, ‘I wish this existed when I was in first grade!’ or ‘Why did they wait to open this until I was about to graduate?’

Ross expects the space to accommodate around 45 students at a time, and given the popularity of other play activities that have been held, she expects regular attendance to be high.

For more details, visit the Recreational Sports website.

Comments are closed.