The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER) is making big moves in e-sports – competitive, team-based online video gaming – which has steadily grown over the past two years. KINBER recognized the potential growth in infrastructure needed to support e-sports early on and has developed the KINBER E-Sports Direct Connect (KESDX) service, allowing KINBER to carve its way as a leader in Pennsylvania’s e-sports community.
In April 2019, KINBER debuted the KESDX pilot at its annual conference and quickly launched e-sports services to its first pilot participant. In response to the tremendous interest in Pennsylvania, KINBER also launched an E-Sports Working Group to provide a way to share information and get feedback from the community. In addition to forming the first E-Sports Community of Practice in the state, KINBER also worked with fellow Quilt member, Merit Network in Michigan, to co-sponsor an E-Sports Community Discussion in November, that ultimately evolved into a multi-state, distributed e-sports event where KINBER and Merit engaged their members in e-sports conversations, shared best practices, and discussed the exciting and dynamic growth of e-sports all over the world.
KINBER’s exclusive KESDX service allows colleges and universities, as well as K-12 schools and libraries, to have direct peering with the most popular game network servers. This keeps latency down by decreasing hops to game servers and keeps network paths optimized, which is essential for competitive game play. Through KESDX, participants get direct access to Twitch, Riot, Blizzard and Valve through a connection in Ashburn, Va., at the Equinix peering facility. The KESDX service is provided through a Rapid Private Interconnect (RPI) connection provided through Internet2 from Ashburn to KINBER’s major POP facility in Philadelphia.
As of 2020, KINBER has moved from piloting e-sports to rolling it out as a new service available to all KINBER customers. The success experienced during its e-sports pilot and through its working group has allowed KINBER to bring more universities and public schools into the game with new opportunities for students.
KINBER is optimistic about the future of e-sports and the opportunities for partnership and the tremendous growth for its members. KINBER will continue to convene its E-Sports Working Group meetings on the first Thursday of each month and has opened participation to many other research and education networks and their members across the United States.