In order to provide better customer service to students from the so-called Millennial Generation, the University of Missouri-Rolla is offering online virtual gaming as a recreational option.
The information technology department at UMR has dedicated a server to allow students to play the popular multi-player game Counter-Strike. Students administer three server-based gaming environments. Two of the environments are used for gaming within the UMR community. The other virtual environment allows members of the UMR community to compete against gamers not affiliated with the university.
The IT department at UMR emphasizes that, while UMR is providing the server, students will be in charge. “Many of our students play Counter-Strike already,” says Brian Buege, director of networks and computing services at UMR. “This will just get them interacting more. Hopefully they’ll match up virtual affiliations on campus with real-world affiliations.”
One of the students who will share the responsibility of administering the gaming environments is Arturo Rosas, a junior in computer science from St. Charles, Mo. “I’ve already formed some strong friendships with students and alumni from UMR because of playing Counter-Strike with them,” says Rosas, who competed last summer at an international gaming competition in Dallas that was organized by the Cyberathlete Professional League.
Buege notes that students must purchase their own copy of Counter-Strike before connecting to a UMR server to play with others. He says he hopes the campus can start hosting intercollegiate gaming competitions next year. Additionally, he says the plan is to add more virtual entertainment options, including other role-playing games, in the future.
In a recent campus survey, 94 percent of incoming UMR freshmen said they planned to bring a computer to campus. Sixty percent said they would be bringing their own laptop; and 87 percent indicated they spend at least an hour on the Internet – in most cases many hours – each week.
Known as Missouri’s premier technological university, UMR has an enrollment of about 5,500 students.
“The students we have coming in are 21st century students, also known as the Millennial Generation,” Buege says. “We have provided them with the option to participate in lots of recreational activities, but the IT department wants to improve the virtual campus and expand recreational offerings that are electronic.
“Much like a landscaper improves the physical aesthetic of the campus, we are focused on improving the electronic aesthetic.”
For more information about UMR’s gaming initiative, go to http://games.mst.edu/.