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UNC Esports club continues partnership with Carolina Gaming Arena

The Caroling Gaming Arena, pictured here on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, is located on the ground level of Craige Residence Hall. The Carolina Gaming Arena features 33 high-end PC stations and over 10 gaming consoles.

Housed on the ground level of Craige Residence Hall is the Carolina Gaming Arena, a space where students can compete and play video games with each other. 

The arena first opened in August 2021 and operated under a mask mandate with limited capacity due to the pandemic. The arena now has a higher frequency of events with different organizations and has become a place where people can play games with friends or solo.

Director of Residential Networking, Education and Technology (ResNET) Phil Young said the arena occasionally partners with Carolina Housing, UNC Athletics and other organizations to hold events.

ResNET is the on-campus technology support for all residential students and professional staff and also manages the Gaming Area. Young said the arena has held several events, including an event with UNC Wellness discussing healthy habits for gaming. 

“That can be everything from posture to getting sleep and how sleep affects everything: your hand-eye coordination, your response time, critical thinking skills, all those things and how that relates not only to gaming, but also the rest of your life,” Young said. “So, Wellness does a really good job of tying those things together.”  

One of the biggest partners of the arena is the Esports club.

The arena’s public hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. However, the Esports club is allowed to use the space beyond regular hours. 

“The most common reason why people are joining the club as a whole is because they want to interact with other people that play video games,” UNC Esports Club President Ryan MacLaughlin said. 

MacLaughlin also said some members are among the “upper echelon” of people who join the club with a higher understanding or skill level of the games. 

“Those people are able to utilize the club and the club's resources to join a team with other people who are also in that upper echelon and come together to join competitions against other collegiate teams across the nation,” he said. 

Although the arena is always open for the club, many Esports club members compete in matches from their homes using their own technology.

“The thing that we get the most use out of is the broadcasting studio, because it gives us access to a higher level of technology that a lot of people wouldn't regularly have,” MacLaughlin said. 

The broadcasting studio allows Esports members to stream video games to the internet at a high quality and broadcast all their matches. 

Junior Dorian Crowder first joined Esports in 2021 when he saw a big Esports sign at SmallFest in the Pit. 

“I was just interested in video games. I wanted to learn more about it,” Crowder said. “And then that's also when I learned about the gaming arena being built.”

Crowder said he is not on any of the club’s competitive teams,  but he enjoys watching their streamed matches because they have a variety of competitive teams for different games. 

“My favorite part is the community because I know we all have the same interest so it feels a lot easier to meet people and make friends,” Crowder said. 

As for the gaming arena itself, Crowder said he thinks playing in the arena is more enjoyable than playing at home. 

“The atmosphere is always great," Crowder said. "There's just so many people playing a bunch of different games. It feels better to be around other people than it does just sitting alone in my room.”


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