I’m airdropping weaponless from the Battle Bus into a strange new world; that is, I’m taking a tour of the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas inside the pyramid-shaped Luxor Hotel & Casino.
If you don’t get the above “Fortnite” video game reference, not to worry. This story was written by a “Clueless Gamer” for other like-minded souls.
Clueless Gamer is the name of a comedy segment periodically performed by late-night TV host Conan O’Brien, In these bits, O’Brien milks his ignorance of video games for laughs while he sort-of reviews games like “God of War” and “Grand Theft Auto.”
Why would Team Coco devote valuable cable TV airtime to having its 55-year-year-old host play video games? O’Brien clearly doesn’t live in the gaming world—but his production team likely realizes that the gamer demographic is the wave of the future—if not already the present.
Living Large in the Esports Arena
I could not have a more earnest host/translator for my HyperX Esports Arena tour than devoted marketing director Aaron Smith.
“I love what I do here, it’s my dream job,” he says, after he lets it be known he happily works at the arena, “12 hours a day, seven days a week.” He was on the clock last Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but was persuaded to take his birthday off.
Smith’s second home is a $30-million, 30,000-square-foot venue in on the Las Vegas Strip. Two Luxor nightclubs were decommissioned to make room for:
- A lobby filled with high-end computer terminals and ergo-dynamic chairs designed for long-term video gaming and virtual reality experiences.
- A two-floor, modular main arena with stadium seating and a stage backed by a 50-foot LED video wall, more gaming stations, a network TV-quality production studio, VIP lounges, full bar and food-and-beverage service.
Today, the lobby is predominantly filled with teenagers engrossed in the world of Fortnite. One mom sits by herself, sipping a coffee and reading a magazine. The main arena is being cleared after serving as a luncheon site for a corporate group, which was not focused on gaming but did make use of the LED video wall for a presentation.
Ahem, What’s Fortnite?
There are different versions, but Fortnite Battle Royale is a video game in which as many as 100 players can fight each other in the same cyberspace. Contestants parachute from the sky into the game’s map. On land, they scavenge for weapons and resources while trying to stay alive and eliminate other players.
Over the course of play, the safe area of the map shrinks down and players are eliminated if they don’t evacuate to the center. This forces battlers into tighter spaces and encourages encounters. The last player remaining is the winner. It’s akin to the plot of The Hunger Games movies.
Smith says HyperX Esports Arena’s Friday Night “Frag” Fortnight Tournaments regularly sell out. (Fortnote: With origins in the Vietnam War, in first-person shooter video games, “frag” is a term commonly used in place of “kill.”)
Friday Night Fraggers pay to enter, and the winners share the prize pool. Spectators also come in to take seats in the arena and watch the action. The finalists play using onstage computers. The game action is shown on the giant LED screen, interlaced with live shots of the real competitors in action.
HyperX Esports Arena Explained
HyperX is the gaming division of Kingston Technology Company. It bought naming rights to Allied Esports’s arena in the Luxor—hence the name. There is a small-but-growing chain of Allied Esports Arenas around the world.
A business relationship between Allied Esports and WPT Enterprises, which operates the World Poker Tour, recently brought real-life poker final tables to the HyperX Esports Arena. Three stops on the WPT tour played down to six players—then all filmed the last parts of the poker action in the high-tech arena.
Smith walks me through three intimidating back-end production rooms that are capable of creating exciting programming for live audiences for Friday Night Frags or Saturday Night Speedway, or for an edited TV broadcast of poker final table action.
There are a lot of buttons and knobs, miles of cables and gadgetry that I acknowledge and nod toward when pointed out to me. I can’t explain how the highly skilled tech crews create the magic that shows up in video productions any more than I could give tactical advice on winning a Fortnite tournament. But even a neophyte can see that this place is way ahead of the curve.
If you’re a gamer, you probably know that the HyperX Esports Arena exists. If a Las Vegas trip is in the cards plan to visit to the Luxor and decide how many hours of time you want to purchase to work on becoming the next Twitch network star, like Ninja or Dr. Disrespect.
And if you decide to stay at the Luxor, book a Tower room, filled with newer suites than the rooms that populate the pyramid structure.
Even if you’re nowhere near being a video game aficionado, come poke your head into the HyperX Esports Arena. It’s always nice to look into the future. J&J