Alienware partners with Texas Union for UT’s first esports lounge

Morgan Severson, Senior News Reporter

The Texas Union is home to the new Alienware esports gaming lounge, which is currently in a soft opening stage after its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

Alienware, the gaming line of Dell Technologies, started developing the lounge with University Unions after student organization Longhorn Gaming expressed a need for an arena for their esports training and competitions.

In spring 2019, Longhorn Gaming’s League of Legends team qualified for the playoffs to go to a nationals tournament, but a power outage in West Campus forced them to forfeit the match, said Daniel Killough, former president of Longhorn Gaming. Being disqualified from tournaments due to connection issues in West Campus emphasized the need for a place where Longhorn Gaming can play without limitations, said Daphnee Grignon, current president of Longhorn Gaming.

“For us specifically, we see it as a push more toward the legitimization of esports on campus and the advancement of esports on campus,” said Grignon, a communication and leadership senior. “It’s been something we’ve been trying to push for for a lot of years because honestly, there’s a lot of other schools comparable to UT that have a lot more development than we do in this sort of area.”

At Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, UT President Jay Hartzell said over 3,500 students signed up for Longhorn Gaming or showed interest in the organization. Hartzell said he sees the Alienware gaming lounge as a place for community and something that could attract prospective students.

“This is something we take quite seriously,” Hartzell said. “I can envision that this would be on a tour stop in the future, and (when) people think about where they want to go to college, they might be on the margin and more likely to pick us because they know there’s this opportunity here on campus.”

The lounge, located on the second floor of the Texas Union, is a permanent installation but a temporary meeting place for Longhorn Gaming until their Alienware esports arena is constructed in the Union Underground sometime in the future, said Grignon.

James Buckley, director of facilities and operations with University Unions, said Longhorn Gaming is a union-sponsored organization. Buckley said working with the students to create the lounge and future area came naturally.

The lounge will be open to all students with a valid UT ID, Buckley said. While Buckley said University Unions is still determining daily and seasonal hours for the lounge, Grignon said Longhorn Gaming will have reserved hours for the room. 

Computer science senior Killough said Longhorn Gaming hopes the lounge will encourage people who did not bring their gaming computer with them to school or can’t afford a gaming computer to get involved in gaming and the organization.

“I want to establish that Longhorn Gaming is also a social (organization), so we don’t just (have a) competitive side,” said Grignon. “The lounge is gonna be really good for our players.”