Local Esports Gaming Hubs!


by Semra Zamurad

As an avid gamer myself, I was drawn to the Esports Cyberathlete Development (ECD) co-design group’s mission: to gain a better understanding of how gaming supports positive social and cognitive growth in cyberathletes. My educational background is rooted in psychology and I am interested in how technology can be used to benefit psychological background and research. To learn more about this, I am lending my expertise in studying human behavior from a biopsychosocial standpoint to the efforts of the ECD team.

As we move forward on our academic journey, we have discovered the necessity of operationally defining the behaviors we seek to understand and making sure that those definitions remain consistent across raters. To operationally define a behavior essentially means to define a behavior in a specific, concrete, and measurable way. This is especially important when more than one researcher will be taking part in an observation. For example, if we were looking for signs of exhaustion, one observer may consider rubbing eyes to be a sign of exhaustion while another observer does not. High levels of inter-rater reliability (referring to how similar the data collection is between the observers) are imperative to the success of study that has key qualitative components. As such, I was tasked with looking into places that the ECD co-design group could practice observing gamers in their natural environment, as well as compiling a list of non-academic resources members could use to supplement their general knowledge of gaming culture.

The following list refers to several locations within the DFW complex that offer gamers and those interested in learning more about Esports a site to gather at and to take part in the experience there.

  • EZ Gaming Café
    • Vibe: minimalistic; snacks and drinks offered from deep freezer, metal shelves
      • Hosts local tournaments
      • Offers PC gaming and consoles (Nintendo Switch, PS4)
  • Nerdvana
    • Vibe: “Games with your coffee” kind of place; café/bar first, with games you can play while eating/drinking
      • Café and board games
      • Bar and videogames
      • Free to play with minimum $10/person purchase
  • Geekletes
    • Vibe: grassroots Esports competitions that serves as a training ground for aspiring gamers
      • Host local tournaments
      • Provide courses on how to navigate and excel in the industry
      • Recruiting and exposure
  • Java Gaming Café
    • Vibe: minimalistic but luxurious
      • Serves drinks to players at their PCs
      • Two floors
      • Hosts local tournaments
      • Offers PC gaming and consoles (PS4, Wii U, Xbox One)
  • PLAYlive Nation at Stonebriar Centre
    • Vibe: social gaming lounge housed in Frisco, powered by Simplicity Esports (merged); high-tech aesthetic (blue neon lights, generally dark, leather seating)
      • Specializes in Xbox One and popular table games (e.g., Magic the Gathering)
      • Offers VR gaming
  • AK PC Gaming Café
    • Vibe: similar look to an office building; identifies as an Internet café
      • PC gaming, web browsing, workstation
      • Offers food and drinks (snacks, soft drinks, coffee, fries)
  • Esports Stadium Arlington Gaming Center
    • Vibe: largest dedicated Esports facility in North America
      • Offers PC gaming and consoles (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One)
        • Must bring your own controllers and headsets, or rent some from them
      • Hosts local tournaments
      • Offers food, drinks, and merchandise

However, simply being aware of the existence of these places may prove to be insufficient in supplementing our comprehension of gaming culture even if we were to visit. In order to effectively supplement our collective knowledge on Esports and gaming in general, I also put together a list of non-academic resources that are easily accessible and may explain cultural concepts in a simpler fashion. This list includes apps, attractions, and movies to gain a better understanding of Esports’ evolution.

  • WEBTOON: No Scope by ZOYANG
    • A webcomic about a fictional Esports game called PSI BOND and high school players attempting to become pro players
    • Gives insight into player housing, recruiting, team building, basic aspects of Esports, women in Esports, Esports in Korea
  • WEBTOON: Let’s Play by Mongie
    • A webcomic about a game developer whose game is given a bad review by an Internet celebrity (“lets-player”).
    • Gives insight into different types of games and gamers, impact of a gaming-centered career on mental and physical health, skills necessary to excel in a gaming-centered career (mainly game development)

  • BBC documentary: The Supergamers/Rise of the Supergamer
    • Looks into the lives of select teams and players as they train, live together, and learn to play together, striving for the common goal of making it big as a cyberathlete

  • Netflix documentary: League of Legends Origins
    • Details the rise of the popular MMOBA game League of Legends, its start as a free demo to an Esport game

If you or someone you know enjoys visiting any of the aforementioned gaming points or is aware of more non-academic resources that can help explain gaming culture, please feel free to contact the Esports Co-Design Group Project Manager, Lauren Bernal, at Lauren.Bernal@UTDallas.edu.

A Spoken Word on Life and Death

Dr. James L. Carter, geoscientist, and associate professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Dallas, passed away on September 21, 2019, in his home at the age of 82. To honor James Carter, ArtSciLab member Ayen Deng has written and performed a spoken word poem in memory of the way he inspired all those who attended his last lecture on September 20, 2019. The slides in this video are from his lecture to accompany the performance.

A Review of Virtual Menageries: Animals as Mediators in Network Cultures

by Michael Warner

Virtual Menageries puts us back in time amongst the collective elites. Berland forms a cohesive genealogy of the “menagerie” to encourage, challenge, and deconstruct our modern perception of non-human animals and their relationship to human meaning and existence. Virtual Menageries looks through the lens of mediation to draw affective and emotional weight to animals as symbolic messengers in the digital era. From the giraffe, to the beaver, virtual art, digital communications, cats, birds and music Berland maps out how animals have become not only the mediators that bridge worlds together for good, but also as the trafficked subjects of terror: tools made to control, methods for silencing, opportunities to proliferate a message, and catalysts in profiteering.
The book begins with a question that led to a series of other questions: “Why are there so many cats on the internet?” (Pg. 1) Which then led to thoughts about the roles of animals as symbols and figures in contexts. “How do animals help manage our perception of the Anthropocene? How do they disrupt our own relationship with digital technologies if they are so abundantly apart of them? If they are mediating in new ways, what content are they mediating, and in what context?” (Pg. 1) These are all questions that threw the book and Berland’s project into fruition.    

To read the full review:

Leonardo Slam Skateboard Awards

Award-Board-design 1

Three weeks before the Leonardo Journal’s 50th anniversary, Roger Malina commissioned Twin Boards to create custom skateboards to give away as awards. The recipients included three significant contributors to the Leonardo journal: Linda Henderson, Lynn Herschmann, and Mihai Nadin. For each of the award-boards, Twin Boards co-founder and Artscilab member Jacob Hunwick and his twin brother Cason Hunwick created personalized skateboards based on each artists body of work.

For ease of presentation and transport a 22-inch deck size decided on. The decks were designed and hand built by Twin Boards. Previous to this commission, the brothers have designed and painted 40 custom skateboards.

The top of each board features a custom grip tape design incorporating the Leonardo brain logo, an inscription, and the name of the recipient. To avoid having to hand paint the inscriptions, each body of text was printed out and adhered to the back of clear grip tape. This process unified the printed text with the rest of the board.

Award-Board Design 1

a longboard proclaiming its worth to its owner. Leader of a computation research lab at ATEC at UT Dallas, Professor Mihai Nadin works to understand how computers might be able to anticipate. In an interview with Ubiquity [1] Nadin explains anticipation in terms of an automobile “a car is much more than a large metal object, it is an instrument of my purpose from getting from point A to point B”. Similar to a car, a longboard can assist in movement between locations. To encapsulate this similarity and turn the proposition on its head, Nadin’s skateboard proclaims “I am more than just a wooden plank, I am an instrument of your purpose” proclaiming its worth by Nadin’s own terms.
Nadins board features a painted depiction of a famous Henri-Cartier Bresson photograph depicting motion [2]. The photograph represents anticipation, a key concept in Nadin’s work.

Award-Board Design 2

Adding to the art-history of the fourth dimension. Professor and author Linda Henderson studies the art history of the 4th dimension. In her studies, she uncovers a wide range of attempts to visualize extra dimensions. Naturally humans have no faculty for understanding another special direction. Nevertheless, artists and scientists alike have attempted to conceptualize this physical reality since it was referred to as ‘the Ether’ [3]. Rather than document previous works, Henderson’s board is itself another artists attempt to grasp at the concept.

Beneath the unassuming depiction of a cube are lines of magnetic paint that connect to form a tesseract. Wielding a magnet, the beholder closes their eyes and probes the board and feels the magnetic paint guiding them along each line. Fully explored and plotted, the invisible lines connect with the visible cube to create a 4 dimensional cube, known as a tesseract.

Award-Board design 3

An extra ear in the room. Renowned multi-media artist Lynn Herschman Leeson explores topics in surveillance and artificial intelligence. Her board synthesizes these topics pairing a recording device with Hershman’s AI chatbot Agent Ruby [4]. Just as it appears on the interactive website, Ruby’s red lips and eyes stand out against a white background and light up when the red recording light comes on. The recording device references Hershman’s installment Vertighost in which two galleries are linked via video feed captured through cameras in the eyes of a figure in a painting [5].

For the presentation ceremony, Jacob Hunwick along with five other students rode longboards onto the stage and handed out the boards.

Each recipient was delighted with the conceptual ideas behind the boards and their final appearance. Linda Henderson described her board “as an original contribution to the discourse of art history” while Lynn Herschman and Mihai Nadin were both intrigued by the audio elements.

Image credits: Jacob Hunwick

Thanks to: Cason Hunwick (carpenter & designer)


[1] https://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1046683

[2] https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN

[3] Linda Henderson The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry.

[4] http://agentruby.sfmoma.org/

[5] https://www.vertighost.net/

Leonardo 50th Birthday Party Slam at ATEC, UTDallas

Pablo Reyes Leonardo 50th Birthday Party Slam at ATEC - UTDallas

The Leonardo Slam idea was launched during Ars Electronica ( http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/leonardo-slam/ )…it was picked up by Pablo Reyes during the UTDallas Leo50 Birthday party as a collaboration between the ATEC 3D Studio directed by Prof Andrew Scott and the ATEC ArtSciLab co directed by Cassini Nazir and Roger Malina. At the Leo50 Birthday Party an ATEC awarded to the first ATEC director Tom Linehan. Continue reading “Leonardo 50th Birthday Party Slam at ATEC, UTDallas”

Welcome to ArtSciLab

Welcome to the UTD ATEC & EMAC Art-Science Lab
The UT Dallas ATEC & EMAC Art-Science Lab carries out research and development that
requires collaboration between artists and scientists, applied to problems of societal
urgency and cultural timeliness. 
Through our projects, we seek to develop multiple applications, in a studio-lab approach, including the creation of artworks, scientific research, technology development and educational innovation.
We carry out our projects through trans-disciplinary, national and international partnerships and collaborations.