Jesus College, in collaboration with the Oxford University Gaming and Esports Society (OUGES) and commercial partner AFK Group, has become the first Oxbridge college to launch a dedicated esports facility.
The AFK Esports Suite is located in a fully repurposed and renovated computer room in the historic Third Quad of the College’s central Oxford site. It will be available to all members of OUGES, and enables gamers from across the University to train for, and participate in, competitive esports leagues with peers at other academic institutions. In addition, the space will also provide high-end computer facilities for students to participate in skills workshops on topics such as coding, CGI design and artificial intelligence technologies.
Talent and attention marketing agency AFK, founded by Oxford University alumnus Matthew Woods, worked in close collaboration with Jesus College and OUGES to facilitate commercial partnerships to support the launch of the suite. As a result, it has been furnished with all new state-of-the-art equipment – including 20 high powered PCs, monitors and ergonomic furniture, which have been provided by co-partners NZXT, Scan Computers and Viewsonic. The space renovations were completed by sustainable FM company, Pioneer FM, with their CEO, Mary-Jane Pettit personally overseeing the design.
“The original vision for a dedicated space for esports at Oxford was to level the playing field for students from international backgrounds who were unable to transport all their gaming and esports equipment with them when beginning their studies here,” says Sameer Mazhar, former OUGES President, who developed the initial concept for a dedicated esports venue.
“Since then, the idea has evolved into what’s now a substantive esports suite. With some of the top University esports athletes attending Oxford, having a base to practice and grow together is an incredible opportunity. We are looking to elevate and showcase Oxford’s esports talent both within the UK and around the world. This space, a first for the University, will be a key asset for developing our activities and ambitions in the coming years.”
The new facility will also support wider digital skills training and development for current Jesus students, and the young people the College works with through its access programmes.
Jesus College Principal, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, comments “The development of the new esports suite pays testament to our ongoing commitment to supporting University-wide endeavours to elevate training and skills in the digital age. As well as providing a new home for the OUGES, the space, its facilities and programmes will enable students across disciplines to engage in projects that involve coding, simulations, graphic design, and AI. It will also enhance the College’s access work by introducing young learners to the opportunities that such skills and technologies provide across the spectrum of academic subjects. We are hugely grateful to AFK, Viewsonic, Scan Computers and NZXT for their support of this initiative, and look forward to developing a strong collaborative partnership with OUGES in the years ahead.”
Matt Woods, CEO and Co-Founder of AFK adds “I am extremely excited to be helping to elevate gaming and esports at Jesus College, and across the University. I hope that the new suite helps entice students who previously may not have had access to this kind of equipment to really get involved and indulge in their passion for gaming. It’s a privilege for AFK and myself to be involved in bringing to life the vision of an esports hub at Oxford, building the foundations for the future and continuing to contribute to the long-term success of the project.”
The partnership between AFK and Jesus College will run for an initial five years. An official launch event will take place on Tuesday 12th December 2023. If you would like to attend, tickets are available here.