Mike Bedford, Technical Director, Intelligent Buildings
The future for forward-thinking venues.
It’s a tale as old as time – human beings gathering together for entertainment. Whether it’s concerts, festivals, or sports tournaments, fans are compelled to come together to experience the excitement live.
But is this also true of the online gaming world? The answer is yes. For years, gamers have found that desire for group connection through online multiplayer games. Now, they’re taking the gaming experience even further and flocking to a relatively new phenomenon – eSports events.
These live events – where professional eGamers play to an audience of fans – have the capacity to draw crowds of thousands.
Recent events have attracted a physical audience of more than 20,000 people and growing rapidly, along with more than 40 million online viewers.
Dedicated eSports arenas are already appearing across Asia. Meanwhile, in the US, Philadelphia’s entertainment district now features a $50 million eSports-only arena, a Florida university has built a dedicated venue, and half of Texas’ main convention centre was transformed into a 100,000ft2 eSports stadium. Here in the UK, we’re perfectly placed to hold world-wide eSports events, thanks to the balanced time differences and length of flights from other time zones.
If we look out five years from now, there will be an eSports facility in every major city. The real estate industry is very focused on the next destination anchors. It’s not a very long list, but there are some reasons to be enthusiastic about eSports being one.
Adam Ducker, RCLCO Real Estate Advisors, Washington, D.C.
This explosive global growth of eSports events means a myriad of questions will soon be asked of us in the UK building services industry. We’re at an exciting moment where we can support the new functionality, forward-thinking sports stadiums, entertainment venues and other civic centres will want to invest in.
It’s vital to understand the needs of key stakeholders at every level of the eSports ecosystem. These include:
– Advertising and display space for developers/publishers
– Flexible, quality, comfortable venue spaces that are suitable for players and spectators
– Power and networking capabilities for event organisers
– Displays, audiovisual and VR solutions for media buyers, advertisers and the visiting public
These environments will have some unique MEP needs
1. Flexible space
Successful eSports venues will need to be smart, highly adaptive mixed-use spaces. Services will need to be easily accessible and upgradable, meeting high power demands and staying flexible for pop-up connections. The spectator seating area will also need to flex, in order to accommodate events of different sizes. Finally, support spaces will be needed for media, retail, education and accommodation.
2. Not your 9-5
These are 24/7 buildings, holding tournaments that can sometimes take a whole day or a series of days. As such, there are a whole host of resilience questions, as well as acoustic and lighting considerations. Added to this are the socialising aspects – so different rooms and spaces for congregating, eating, relaxing, or even smaller gaming sessions will be required, along with the wayfinding considerations that this brings.
3. Connection and resolution
In eSports, the viewing experience deviates from the norm – rather than focusing on just a stage, it’s the screen that provides the audience with all of their information. The screen therefore needs to be ultra-high resolution and big enough to engage a large audience. Crowd interactivity, responsive digital displays, VR and CGI capabilities are a must – all with the aim of creating a truly immersive audiovisual experience.
A new style of entertainment district.
Finally, one of the most important aspects is in understanding that the eSports potential doesn’t just lie in events, but also building a community. The Chinese city of Hangzhou recently opened an ‘eSports town’ concept. It’s a development that grew from a $2.2 billion investment in a series of 14 related projects; featuring everything from a 10,000-seat arena, eSports education academy, and eSports-themed hotel, to a business centre for related vendors, and even a health centre focused on rehabilitation for the professional players.
Ultimately, eSports presents an opportunity for developers to not only create live venues, but also provide the related living spaces, education provisions, co-working areas and retail opportunities.