Esports Venues in the Spotlight
Esports Venues in the Spotlight
PS&AM talked to Brian Mirakian, Senior Principal, Populous; Chris Grundy, UK Technology Group Leader, ME Engineers; Jie Zuo, Senior Associate, Walter P Moore; and Ian Cooney, Project Director, Holmes Miller about the latest in esports venue development.
Sometimes the venues with the biggest visual impact on camera may not be the most practical for an event, how do you assess/compromise those key infrastructure decisions with the need to create a spectacle?
JZ: Some of the largest gaming tournaments have been held at sold-out arenas like Madison Square Garden or Staples Center with 360-degree seating around a central stage.
The atmosphere is electric and the visuals on camera are astounding, but the sightlines to key areas of the stage are lacking from specific vantage points. To improve the viewing experience, it’s ideal for all spectators to be facing the front of the stage and see the players and video board straight on, which is why an auditorium or theatre seating format works better functionally, although those types of venues may not be able to seat as many fans.
There is a definitely balance needed to be struck between creating a positive viewing experience for as many spectators as possible while selling as many tickets as possible.
How important is having a ‘flexible venue’ to help meet these requirements?
JZ: A flexible venue is crucial to suit the needs of different types of gaming events. For example, team events, solo events, or 1v1 events all have different ideal staging and visual layouts that can enhance the spectator experience. Flexibility in seating, staging, visuals, lighting, and audio that can meet the needs of several different types of events can make a venue a unique visit for any type of fan.
Are dedicated esports venues sustainable (particularly those aiming to host larger events) or should we be fitting out with esports in mind as part of a wider business case?
JZ: I think the most successful esports venues will be those that have a primary focus in supporting the needs of esports events with things like a robust power and internet system, attractive audio, visual, and lighting components,
and a grand competition stage with auditorium style seating for the best sight lines. But they can also serve other functions.
YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park for example was designed with esports in mind, but can also host a variety of live entertainment from concerts to comedy shows, award shows, conferences, community gatherings, etc. The venue features that esports requires also lends itself well to these other types of events.
How can esports ready venues maximise fan interaction, including the potential for the event to be closer to the audience 'i.e. stats on smart phone, or even audience game play?'
JZ: Fan interaction can come in different ways. Interactions with online streams, shout casters, or the competitive players can be done in person or virtually. Mobile apps can be developed to allow the fan to participate in polls, make predictions, earn virtual currency, or compete in challenges on upcoming events. AR or VR opportunities are available to make the experience even more immersive, giving the fans more options to see behind the scenes, rewind a play, see hidden stats, or compete with other fans at a macro level. Gaming enthusiasts want a totally immersive experience when coming to an esports venue and are inclined to try out new technologies and competition formats.
Full article published in the Q2 2022 issue of PanStadia & Arena Management.