UB students ‘LevelUp’ in new computing, gaming space – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff

UB students now have access to console gaming lounges and an esports arena, as well as cutting-edge academic technology, in the new LevelUp gaming and computing center in Lockwood Library.

Now open in the former Lockwood Cybrary, LevelUp is UB’s most advanced public computing site. Students who visit LevelUp will find dozens of academic computers (PCs and iMacs), along with printing, storage lockers, and plenty of seats and outlets for charging.

But just around the corner, something truly epic awaits: a first-of-its-kind-at-UB esports arena, with Alienware gaming PCs, each pre-loaded with a large library of games. The arena is open to UB students on a first-come, first-served basis; it’s also the new home of UB’s esports teams.

In addition to the esports arena, students can reserve one of eight gaming lounges with a 55” screen connected to the latest consoles, including Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Students can also bring their own consoles and games to use in the pods.

The gaming spaces are now open, with limited weekday hours, for students to preview the space and test the games.

The new LevelUp space is opening as gaming is having a cultural moment. Esports is an estimated $1 billion industry, with an audience of around 450 million bolstered by platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Students at UB can try out for UB’s varsity esports teams, join UB’s student-run esports club and even participate in research that incorporates gaming.

“As UB continues to advance as a premier public research university, transformed spaces such as this are integral to cultivating the modern, dynamic atmosphere critical to a world-class living learning environment,” President Satish K. Tripathi said at the recent ribbon-cutting for LevelUp. “LevelUp reflects our commitment to providing transformative educational experiences beyond the classroom that are both relevant to students and foster a sense of belonging in their communities.”

“Technology has the incredible power to bring people together. We have all experienced that over the past few years,” added Brice Bible, vice president and chief information officer. “This exciting technology-centric space is the next frontier for our students to work and play as they pursue their education at UB.”

Provost A. Scott Weber noted how spaces like these can enhance creativity. “So many of UB’s great innovations and breakthroughs have started with simple conversations. Sometimes when you least expect it, the brightest ideas occur,” Weber said. “Spaces like LevelUp are where these conversations can happen.”

Brian Hamluk, vice president for student life, said the space represents the holistic view UB takes when supporting students. “It’s an acknowledgment that things like work/life balance, mental wellness and the threat of burnout have a palpable impact on students. LevelUp is a space that reflects the whole student experience, academics and recreation, and acknowledges the value of both,” Hamluk said.

Students can learn more about LevelUp, and reserve gaming pods and other equipment, by visiting its website.

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