Fortnite, Rocket League, & Mario Kart: Penn State’s New Esports Center Has It All

So that’s what all that tuition is going toward.

Penn State opened its new Esports Center in the White Building for the 2023-24 school year and, naturally, we here at Onward State had to try it out.

Fellow Onward State staffer and noted non-competitive gamer Jack Anderson-Jussen and I took a trip down to the White Building Wednesday afternoon and were shocked by what greeted us. A room that I had only seen under construction during my time at Penn State had been turned into a moody room with dozens of PC setups, a few big-screen TVs, and lighting that just barely kept the space aglow.

It took me a moment to understand what I was looking at. Around a dozen students were sitting at monitors with the type of gaming chairs that you’d see on a Twitch stream, though the monitors were spaced so that no one was sitting directly next to each other. It was a design that made everyone comfortable, but it still was a little inconvenient if you wanted to go with a friend.

Jack was already there, and we took our seats at a diagonal across the table from one another. I initially tried to fire up Fortnite (a classic, I know) but was turned to the Epic Games sign-in page first. No worries, I thought. I’ll just remember my login and log in.

After I remembered my account password, I was told that I had to download Fortnite. No worries, I thought. I’ll just download Fortnite. No such luck.

While the computers at the Esports Center were nice and had a strong internet connection, it took too long to download the middle school classic. I only had an hour to spend at the Esports Center, and it took the computer 10-15 minutes to knock out around 50% of the download. Jack and I were forced to do an about-face and switched to Rocket League.

Rocket League was actually pre-downloaded on my computer, for whatever reason. While Jack grabbed an Xbox controller from the desk to help him play, I decided to try and learn the game’s commands on PC. Unfortunately, I couldn’t learn the keyboard controls fast enough, which was the sole reason we lost both games. I’m sorry, Jack.

Despite my struggles with the computer controls and the download times, the Esports Center was a blast. In addition to the many PCs in the room, there were also three Xboxes hooked up to big screen (and I mean BIG screen) TVs on one end of the room, one of which featured an intense game of Mario Kart.

I would spend all my time in the White Building based on the gym and Esports Center alone, but the computer tracks how long you’ve spent gaming. Each student is allowed just 10 hours a week, which seems extremely reasonable. I know Penn State’s collective GPA would plummet if there was no time limit on how much Warzone you could play.

While an Esports Center may have been a weird way to spend university money, it wasn’t a terrible decision. The space is great, and I certainly encourage anyone who has even thought about playing a video game before to try it out. I’m no Twitch streamer, but I had a blast. Surely, you can as well.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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