EAST LANSING, Mich. – Thanks to a partnership with Dell Technologies and its iconic gaming brand Alienware, a new space at Michigan State University provides an elite gaming environment for students to train and compete in esports at the highest level.
Supported by MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences, or ComArtSci, the Alienware MSU Esports Lounge is the university’s first dedicated space for students engaged in esports, a rapidly growing industry centered around organized professional or semiprofessional competitive video game play. It also is the first higher education esports facility Alienware has helped establish in Michigan.
The Alienware MSU Esports Lounge is a 1,027-square-foot space located on the main floor of the MSU ComArtSci building. The lounge is open to all MSU students and features 12 Alienware Aurora R16 battle stations — Alienware’s most advanced and most powerful desktop yet, powered by 14th Gen Intel Core processors — as well as Alienware m16 laptops, console gaming space, a varsity room and broadcast studio.
“We are honored to have the partnership of Dell Technologies, which is a critical pillar of the global technology industry,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “Elevating esports in our College of Communication Arts and Sciences complements the college’s top-ranked game design and development program and prepares many students for careers in technology, while ushering in an exciting new era of competition and community at MSU.”
The university celebrated the opening of the Alienware MSU Esports Lounge on Jan. 17 with special guests, including former MSU women’s basketball player Aerial Powers — a brand and diversity ambassador with Team Liquid, a well-known esports organization, and WNBA player with the Minnesota Lynx. Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II was also in attendance.
“Computers changed my life, and this new, state-of-the-art esports lounge will do the same for countless Spartans,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Students won’t just use this lounge to game. They will network with other future professionals, discover career opportunities, and build community. Governor Whitmer and I have worked hard to lower the cost of college and skills training, making more experiences like this one available for Michiganders in communities cross our state. We are grateful to all the partners who made this transformative gaming lounge happen.”
This facility will provide a hands-on esports experience for the Spartan gaming community and host team competitions.
“We are proud to partner with Michigan State University on this next chapter of MSU gaming and esports," said Matt McGowan, general manager of Alienware. "We are committed to supporting collegiate gamers, from novice to varsity player, by providing the high-performance PCs, displays and equipment required to help them compete to their best abilities.”
The formation of a Spartan gaming community began with like-minded student groups and clubs. In 2016, students established the MSU Esports Club Association with the intent to unify the different gaming clubs and build a larger community rooted in the enjoyment of video games. The community has since grown — through continued enthusiasm and with the support of ComArtSci mentors — to more than a dozen clubs, representing more than 2,000 students with diverse majors and interests.
“Built on a foundation of excellence in media, game design and storytelling, MSU consistently ranks among the leading institutions for game design programs,” said Teresa Mastin, interim dean of the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “For Michigan State, esports provides an opportunity to expand multiple aspects of academic life, student success, engagement and community building.”
Michigan State University announced its first varsity esports team roster in 2023, competing in both the National Association of Collegiate Esports, known as NACE, and the Big Esports Conference, or BEC. The Spartans’ strong performance last fall earned them many tournament victories and a spot in the NACE Starleague Grand Finals; they will finish their BEC season this February.
“The Alienware MSU Esports Lounge will set a new standard for excellence in esports across the state,” said Christopher Bilski, director of esports at MSU. “We are excited to provide a space for our students to connect and compete, and we look forward to expanding our partnership with Alienware through innovative collaborations and events in the future.”
Contributing writers: Lois Furry, Jessica Mussell and Alex Tekip