A new social gaming centre, ‘Belong’, has opened in Lion Walk, Colchester. Retail store Game, have recently renovated into a gaming pad where local enthusiasts can go to communally interact. However, the store is not the first of its kind in the area.
Xtreme Gaming, on the high street, have been the one and only place in which to socially game between friends, in Colchester. Being there for ten years, it is one of the oldest LAN centre in the country.
With the rise of these new centres, Sam and Arthur Tolmie, directors of Xtreme gaming, explained their views of social gaming in the community, and the new threat of a competitor just around the corner.
JM: What are your thoughts on another LAN centre opening so close to you?
ST: “It is good to see LAN centres taking shape, and when it is done by the right people it works well. There is a lot in the past which have come and gone, which is unfortunate, but it is nice to see some coming and staying.
Talking as a business, having another Lan centre is great, but having one on your doorstep is not. Choice is always good. For example; you don’t want Playstation or Xbox to win the market, as it means they will not push themselves to be better. Having game open up in Colchester can only be good for our customers, because we will try harder”.
JM: What, in your opinion, is the difference between “belong” and your business?
ST: “With “belong” although it is a Lan centre, it is not the same kind of place. We’re a more dedicated community based centre. “Belong” is a brand, and there will be several around the UK. Game doing their big roll-out might just encourage smaller brands to appear, as there will be a larger market for it.
Our environments help we have fun rooms; a skyrim bar, a pirate ship, a zombie room, and a pc bunker which is being renovated at this time”.
JM: Ten years is a long time, how did the idea first come about?
ST: “This first started out, as a housewarming party 12 years ago, we all brought consoles round and we spent the entire day gaming. We realised we had been gaming socially and the idea was born. Nothing beats the old school gaming on the sofa with your mates. It helps socially, people make friends that would not when passing them by in the streets”.
‘Belong’ is currently only in nine stores, however, game plan to have fifty altogether by the end of the year. With Game opening more of these centres in their stores will it help the community and bring the niche market into the light?