New Pacific Gaming Center provides space for students to connect

University of the Pacific is creating opportunities for students to dive into the world of immersive gaming with the opening of the Pacific Gaming Center on the Stockton Campus.

The vibrant space, located on the garden level of the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center, is available for students of all skill levels to socialize, compete and learn about the esports industry.

Pacific President Christopher Callahan said, “We are trying to design a university that is for our students.”

The space includes 20 high-end gaming rigs and other pro-level equipment.

University of the Pacific held a ribbon cutting for its new gaming Center April 4, 2024.

A ribbon cutting was held for the new gaming center April 4, 2024. (L-R) Executive Director of Campus Life Donte Miller, Vice President for Student Life Maria Blandizzi, Board of Regents Chair Mary Elizabeth-Eberhardt, Student Tommy Nguyen, President Christopher Callahan, Chief Facilities Officer Steve Greenwood and Director of Esports Richard Woodruff. 

“It's a place where I can come to hang out with the community that I've been away from since I got back into education,” said Andrew Lewis ’25, a computer science major with a focus on game development.

“I was in the competitive gaming scene and went to tournaments, but after a while, I had to focus on my education. I always wished to find a balance between those two, and I feel like the gaming center will provide that,” he said.

The space will be open for recreational video gaming and esports, a type of competition using video games where there is a clear winner, trophy and monetary prize.

According to, the popularity of esports is growing rapidly with more than 540 million viewers worldwide. Esports audiences are starting to surpass sports such as baseball, basketball and hockey.

“I see that as an opportunity to be part of the gaming community, which is booming right now,” said Adithya Pushpaletha ’25, a business analytics major.

Research has shown numerous benefits when gaming within a community.

“When we're working together in a competitive atmosphere, we develop skills like grit, determination, strategy, communication, leadership and perseverance,” said Director of Esports Richard Woodruff, a stressologist and former professional player. “All these things are connected to emotional intelligence.”

The Pacific Gaming Center is open weekdays from 5 p.m. until the library closes and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the day, the space will be used for academic research.

“I’m currently working with professors from the School of Health Sciences,” Woodruff said. “We are getting ready to launch a pilot study looking into the general health of a collegiate gamer, from casual to pro. I feel like most gamers should be getting support like that, not only pros. With this, we can start making a difference for everybody.”  

Pacific is one of the only universities in the region to have a gaming center dedicated to students. The university also offers a for-credit esports class through the Eberhardt School of Business.

The class gives students a deeper understanding of the esports industry by learning about the business models of competitive gaming and organizing tournaments. Pacific is also exploring the possibility of an esports major.

Four facts about esports and gaming:

  • Global revenue from esports is forecast to grow to more than $1.8 billion in 2025, according to Statista
  • Gaming can stimulate creativity, focus and visual memory.
  • Gaming can help players develop and improve critical thinking abilities.
  • Unlike other traditional sports where athletes only play one game with specific rules, those who participate in esports play many different types of games.