By Joseph Casciaro
Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) has officially launched its brand new Red Bull Gaming Hub, in partnership with Red Bull Canada. Since its doors first opened earlier this month, the room is available for students to visit and enhance their knowledge of video games and virtual production.
The Gaming Hub is located on the second floor of the Rogers Communications Centre and is an immersive experience.
Kristopher Alexander, a video games professor at TMU, will serve as the director of the Hub. Alexander played a big role in creating the connections between TMU and Red Bull.
“The Red Bull Gaming Hub is the one place where we focus on the components that stem outside of the playing of games,” said Alexander. “For example, every program at TMU, every job set, has a connection to video games and esports. This hub is to help teach students exactly how and why they could find a career in something they are already passionate about or have a new interest in.”
The hub has big Red Bull logos across the walls, above rows of leather gaming chairs with thin monitors on the desks in front. Eight flat screen TVs are mounted on the walls and two fridges, decorated with the iconic blue lights and loaded with cans of Red Bull, add character to the room.
“Every program at TMU, every job set has a connection to video games and esports”
According to Red Bull’s website, the Hub has “36 high-performance gaming computers equipped with some of the best AMD technology on the market.” AMD, Advanced Micro Devices, is a semiconductor company famous for their computer processing and graphic technology. The website also states that the room will have surround sound speakers and a library filled with “classic” video games.
Benson Lam, a fourth-year TMU media production student and president of TMU’s Esports team, is honoured to have the company sponsor the Hub.
“[Red Bull] is actually the first ever sponsor of esports and the first company that actually believed in esports,” said Lam, referring to when the company signed its first esports athlete, professional Halo player David Walsh, in June 2006. “So, having such a popular and historical brand partner with us at TMU is really exciting because it shows that we have gathered the attention of top level companies.”
Students will be offered training in three core areas at the Hub: video game design, virtual production and esports broadcasting.
The Hub will allow students with an interest in gaming the opportunity to connect with peers and train with the best equipment.
“If you’ve ever walked into the space, you can definitely tell it was built by gamers”
The TMU Esports team has high hopes for the Hub and are excited for what it could mean for their performance as a team, said Jaden Luu, the assistant manager of TMU’s League of Legends team.
“I hope to get in there with my team playing together and being able to actually be serious about what to do with the game we’re playing and talk about that in person, rather than online,” he said.
While Lam is also excited to finally have a top-of-the-line space for his team, he said the Gaming Hub allows for a more immersive and enjoyable experience for esports athletes.
“Having that kind of varsity athlete experience, walking into campus with your jersey, your mouse and keyboard, your gear and everything, it’s a really exciting thing to have,” he said.
“If you’ve ever walked into the space, you can definitely tell it was built by gamers, by people who really want to make this space accessible to everyone who wants to be involved with gaming,” Lam added.
He said the Hub isn’t too intimidating and can give people who are interested in gaming but don’t have any experience more insight into esports. “It’s really cool because they can say, ‘Hey, I’m not an avid gamer, but I wanna see what this esports or gaming industry is.’”
According to Alexander, various gaming companies have already expressed interest in collaborating with the Red Bull Gaming Hub.
“We have already connected students with jobs at Epic Games, Interactive Ontario, FaZe Clan, Behaviour Interactive, Ubisoft, among other companies,” said Alexander. “The hub is now a formalized space which has a mandate that we’ve already been pursuing for the last three years.”