Another chapter could be added to Dundee’s storied history of video games if plans for a new 4,000-seater esports arena on the Waterfront are approved.
Yesterday it was revealed Dundee City Council has entered into an agreement with Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE) to bring a multi-purpose venue, complete with an esports academy, retail, accommodation and working spaces, to sites 10 and 11 of Dundee Waterfront.
Esports is sports competitions using video games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty, with teams often competing for multi-million-pound prize pots.
The news has been welcomed by gamers, the public and local businesses who all agree it is a huge development for the city.
Jamie Haddow, vice-president of the games development society at Abertay University, said: “The gaming as entertainment industry is huge, and is now worth more than movies and music combined which is crazy.
“I remember my dad saying ‘you just play video games’, but there is really money involved in it, especially when the tournaments are live streamed on Twitch or YouTube.
“It is crazy how big something like this could be for creating future careers in Dundee.
“I think Dundee is the best location for an arena like this too because of its gaming history and all the games development studios we have here.”
Broughty Ferry man Ross Lemon runs the Gaming Van, a purpose-built van kitted out with 10 consoles for people to hire out for esports parties.
He said: “It is a brilliant idea and it will be really popular, especially with Dundee’s gaming heritage.
“A lot of companies also launch their games at these kinds of tournaments.
“What I do is kids’ parties where they can play whatever video games they like together with their friends in the van and they can watch each other’s screens.
“Something like this will really appeal to kids because during the coronavirus lockdown a lot of them have been playing Fortnite as a way to socialise with other kids – it’s what they want to do.
Harry Petch, 18, is moving to Dundee next week to start a games design and production course at Abertay, and says the city’s gaming industry is what has drawn him to the city.
He said: “Tickets for some of these tournaments in places like Cologne are really expensive and I’ve always been interested in going to one of them rather than watching it on my phone – it will bring international tourism to Dundee.
“People like to watch esports because they can go home and download the games themselves and think ‘hey, I could be as good as that’, and use some of the tricks they have learned from watching the professionals.”
Jakub Sielski, vice-president of the esports society at Abertay University, also said: “I personally think the proposal is amazing and I am very excited to see what the plans for the arena look like.
“It’s definitely good for the city and I think it will bring several new possibilities.
“A state of the art facility like that would definitely attract tournament organisers.
“I think it could easily host regular esports events and conventions.
“I don’t think these would be major international events because Dundee is a bit too remote and hard to travel to, but perhaps UK-based events would find their home in Dundee.”
Meanwhile, the Tele took to the streets to find out what people thought about the plans.
George Ellis, a 24-year-old student, said: “Esports is on the up and up, and I could see it bringing more people into the city.
“I’d probably go and see what all the fuss is about, I’d give it a shot.
“I don’t think they’d play a lot of the games that I like though.”
His friend, Robert Smith, agreed, saying: “I’d potentially go, yeah.
“I don’t really play many competitive online games, but I know that some like Call of Duty and CSGO (Counter Strike: Global Offensive) are quite popular.
“I think that pubs could probably benefit from it a lot too.
“Plus, if they link it in with all the gaming at Abertay Uni it could be really popular.”
Michael Smith, a 25-year-old carer, added: “I would definitely go along if they were playing something like Call of Duty.
“If they could get big American teams over as well to play that would be amazing.
“It would also be good for Dundee’s night life, it would bring more young people to the city.
“I think the rest of the UK should look at this and do something similar.”
Other esports arenas around the world have sold more than 10,000 tickets in places such as Seoul, Frankfurt, Seattle and Los Angeles and last year a prize pool of $227 million was shared between more than 25,000 players in 5,000 tournaments.