WSU opens Esports lounge


Mohammed Islam

The Warrior Esports Lounge is open to students with eight gaming PC’s, six Nintendo Switch’s and five 65” Sony TV’s for use. Students must wear a mask inside, social distance and sanitize the equipment after they are done playing.

Kristin Kovalsky, Copy Editor

The Warrior Esports Lounge officially opened in Kryzsko Commons 107 on Oct. 5.

The Esports gaming lounge has eight gaming PC’s, six Nintendo Switch’s and five 65” Sony TV’s for students to use.

Games offered include Super Smash Bros, Minecraft, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare and several others.

The Esports gaming lounge was created with the help of director of student union and activities, George Micalone, and the IT team.

The lounge was funded by the student union and IT department after pooling their resources together, Micalone said.

Micalone said the idea for the lounge was introduced last spring and was built and completed during this year’s fall semester.

“Most things around here don’t happen very quickly but I think COVID helped a little bit, between time becoming available and then because of the passion that I and the IT staff had to make this happen,” Micalone said. “We really wanted to have this open up in the fall so we could roll this out with all the changes happening with COVID and give something positive people could focus on.”

The lounge has the same regulations regarding COVID-19 as the rest of the university: students must wear a mask inside, social distance and sanitize the equipment after they’re done playing.

“The capacity for a non-COVID time would be about 50 [people] based on fire code and square footage,” Micalone said. “Otherwise based on the six-foot guidelines and the 25% capacity that we’ve been using in all the flexible space, I started at 12 people. Instead of 16 computers, we went to eight.”

Nick Austad, fourth-year mass communication and Spanish major, has helped with the set-up of the Esports gaming lounge.

“I have been working in development of the Warrior Esports Lounge since last year as an Esports Consultant to the school. I have been organizing and running gaming tournaments for the better part of the last 4 years, so I’ve gained a lot of experience with gamers from all walks of life,” Austad said. “I use that experience to make sure that the Warrior Esports Lounge is well suited for all of our WSU students, staff and faculty.”

Austad said the lounge offers opportunities for students to try competitive or leisurely gaming.

“I think that a lot of people have been interested in getting into gaming but are often put off by the price of a new computer or console. I think that the addition of the lounge offers a way for everyone who has interest to partake in a really great experience,” Austad said.

Micalone said the lounge also offers an opportunity for students to gather in a common place.

“I see this as a way for likeminded, interested folks who appreciate gaming, whether they’re generic players, competitive players or just interested in watching, [to] utilize the space and come together,” Micalone said.

Austad agreed that the lounge helps students come together.

“My favorite part is that anyone can have a high-powered gaming experience and that the space makes gaming much more of a social thing when everyone is together in the same room,” Austad said.

Winona State is one of the few universities in the Midwest to have an Esports gaming lounge.

“Over time, it will become a bragging right for us to be able to say we have this,” Micalone said. “We’re pretty pleased that we have a dedicated space that is high-end, that over time can expand and evolve.”

The Esports gaming lounge is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.