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Public to get view of Butler's new Esports Park giving students opportunity to game, learn

The facility is the first of its kind on an Indianapolis campus.

INDIANAPOLIS — "Just getting the opportunity to compete in a game I love here, it's just awesome," said Cameron Walker, a member of the Rocket League varsity team at Butler University. 

Inside Butler's Esports Park, one of the university's varsity teams takes the stage playing Rocket League, a popular esports game. 

"So, the best way I can describe it is rocket-powered car soccer," Walker said. 

Wednesday night, they faced off against UConn. 

“It’s going to be a pretty tough match," Walker said. "We’ve played them in a lot of practice games and scrimmages in the past but I think we can take it."

Walker, a double major in English and journalism at Butler University, has been gaming on campus teams for the past few years, first at home during the pandemic his sophomore year, then in temporary spots on campus his junior year. Now, Walker said he's excited to be able to play inside the school's new Esports Park. 

Credit: Butler University rendering
Butler University provided this May, 2022 rendering of the new esports facility on campus.

The park opened on the first day of school for students and team members, and Thursday it will open up to the community. Butler is hoping it will be a big draw for gamers all around Indianapolis.

"We're going to continue to see that presence grow on. We're a big convention city, we're a sports town and the next evolution of that is esports. It's what people are watching nowadays, there are titles for everybody whether you're into the really complicated 4D chess style games or if you're into soccer with cars, we've got something for everybody," said Nathan Duke, the manager of esports programs and facilities operations at Butler University.

Credit: WTHR
Inside Butler's new Esports Park, which is giving students an opportunity to game and learn.

The university has been growing its esports footprint for years. This past spring, Butler graduated its first student with an esports communications minor.  

Many students on campus that are drawn in aren't necessarily coming to game themselves, but rather to learn how they can broadcast esports matches, produce shows and direct gaming professionally.  

This new facility, Duke said, will only help that. 

“Obviously we’ve got this real nice facility and this allows for students to come in and get the behind-the-scenes experience of what it’s like to run these events, operate a facility, what it’s like to manage a team, be on a team and really provide that further look into what it means to participate in esports not only as a gamer but also as an organizer,” Duke said.

Credit: WTHR
The park opened on the first day of school for students and team members, and Thursday it will open up to the community.

It's a growing field with many on campus excited.

“I think this could set a really good precedent for other schools to really up their esports program, get more people involved from not only the collegiate level, but high school and potentially even middle school. I just think it’s a great opportunity for people who are passionate about playing video games to potentially compete against other schools,” Walker said. 

"We've got new students coming in here every day and asking how they can get involved whether they want to be in the production side, they want to be a player or they want to be a manager or even if they just want to work reception for us to be in this space. There's always something for these new students and they're always excited to get involved," Duke said.

Credit: WTHR
An inside look at Butler's new Esports Park.

And at the new facility, there's room not just for students and gamers but for people in the community, including gamers and prospective students, who want to come out and watch matches or play.

"We're excited to see the spark that esports is generating in Indianapolis and all the people that are coming together to help make this a reality," Duke said. 

Walker said he's grateful to see Butler investing in esports, expanding options for students, and helping them grow this love of gaming into a lifelong passion.

"I'm lucky that I'll be able to get to use this facility for another year, but even after I graduate, it's always going to be something that sticks with me, and maybe sometime in the future is a potential field that I may want to go into," Walker said.

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Butler University currently has 12 esports teams including two varsity esports teams, Rocket League and League of Legends. 

The university will be unveiling the new Esports Park to the public Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. on campus. For more information, including an upcoming schedule of gaming events visit their website

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