Snazzy facilities take center stage in school’s new-student recruitment strategy


Students lined up at Grand Opening ceremonies to use PNW’s new eSports arenas. Th e state-of-the-art gaming spaces were designed for competition by the Pride eSports team, but are available to students who just want to decompress after class. Register for playing time on the PNW website.

PNW thinks of its new eSports arenas in Hammond and Westville as secret weapons to attract students.

The spaces, each equipped with 30 monitors, are designed to host competitions, be available for students who just want to play video games between classes and serve as a magnet for prospective students. 

“We can run tournaments or events where we can get more students involved. It is a multifaceted thing here where we can get students involved and still recruit a pretty good team,” said third-year eSports head coach Justin Bragg, who was involved in designing the spaces. “[They are places] where we can do student life stuff.”

The arenas have also appealed to prospective students. 

 “We use the rooms for recruitment all the time,” he said. “Whenever we bring new recruits on, we show them the room and they love it. This is probably one of the nicer facilities in the country. I think we get a lot of students to come here because they can see the money that the school is putting into eSports and what the administrative support is.”

Current students are pretty happy, too. 

“They’re a great addition to PNW,” said Enrique Campos, a sophomore member of the eSports team who competes in Rocket League. “Not only does it invite students to play the video games they love and meet new people, but it also helps strengthen the relationship between everyone involved in eSports. It’s almost like there’s a home base for us now where we can relax and be ourselves.”

Josiah Kuypers, a sophomore Rocket League player, is already seeing an uptick in interest among students. 

“This new room allows for any PNW student to come in and play video games from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he said. “This serves as a great addition to the amenities that the school has to offer, as the room is generally at 75%-to-90% capacity during these times.”

Elise Garcia, a senior Criminal Justice major, is less convinced. 

“I think that there are pros and cons,” she said. “For one, it gives students with a high interest in video games the opportunity to connect with other students who share similar interests. So in that sense, it is a great way to bring people together. 

“However, I also believe video games have the ability to influence people and their sense of reality,” Garcia said. “We live in a highly technology-based space as it is, so I am not sure if making it more accessible is really necessary.”

Though the university hosted official grand openings for both facilities this month, they have been available for nearly a year. 

“We ended up finishing in the spring of 2021,” Bragg said. “[They were] open for about a month, but no one really knew because we couldn’t hold events to tell people to come to visit. So fall of 2022 is basically the first semester where we are able to do all of the marketing to get more students involved with this. The opening is to make sure that we get more people to visit and get more people to know that it exists.”

ESports is one of the fastest-growing athletic competitions in the world. According to Insider Intelligence, a research organization focused on digital business, the monthly viewership of gaming content is at 29.6 million, three million more than last year. 

That number is projected to grow next year. 

Bragg wants to take advantage of the booming market and turn PNW into a noticeable eSports program on all levels. 

“There is a lot of viewership at the professional level,” he said. “There also are a lot of colleges that are buying into eSports and putting money in. I think there was a nice opportunity to be involved in our institution and we could potentially do it better than a lot of colleges. 

“This is something that we can get a lot of students on board with,” said Bragg. “I think eSports for PNW is already big and I just think it will keep getting bigger.”