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Gamers gather at new arcade with ‘nightclub feel’

Cameron Weimer / Lantern photographer

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Ohio State gamers have a new place to hang out on campus.
A new arcade has opened on the corner of West Eighth Avenue and High Street, one which combines the spirit of gaming with the look and feel of a nightclub.
Just Play Games, which opened Aug. 20, is owned by Ashley Calderon and Damian Jeri-Greene, two friends seeking to highlight the social aspect of gaming.
“What we want people to feel like when they come in is the Miami feel, a nightclub feel, it’s kind of flashy, but not,” Calderon said. “We want people to have a good social environment for gaming.”
The space, which is still being renovated, houses multiple consoles including PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Elite, all hooked up to LED HDTVs. The most popular games are on the menu, including “Madden,” “Halo” and “Marvel vs. Capcom.”
Inside, the lights are dimmed and colored, and gamers go head-to-head in red folding chairs as music blares in the background.
“Yeah, it’s going to get loud and it’s going to get frisky, but that’s what you want and if you didn’t have that, you’d just be sitting at home playing games,” Calderon said.
Just Play Games offers customers a variety of play options. Joining a league night or tournament costs $10. It costs $5 for an hour of gaming and $15 for an all-day pass.
Ryan Hammonds, a student in law enforcement at Columbus State, said he initially heard about Just Play Games through a friend, and would encourage others to check it out.
Hammonds said there is an online debate as to where the fighting game community should play, but for him it’s a clear choice.
“They close at 3 in the morning, so the smart choice would be Just Play Games,” Hammonds said. “This is the place to be right now, it’s great.”
The owners have been busy getting the word out and are slowly building clientele.
“Right now we have a regular customer base of about 120 people that come through,” Jeri-Greene said.
However, they view these past weeks as more of a soft opening and are looking to expand on what they offer.
“We’re getting a kiosk machine that will be out here very soon,” Calderon said. “What that will let people do is challenge people and win money or build up a credit line on their card.”
The arcade plans to sell battle points. Players can then face each other for these points and either put them toward more game time or cash out for the equivalent in the form of a Visa gift card.
Other additions are in the works as well.
“When the city approves of it, we’ll have about 20 consoles go through here, and couches and a lounging area,” Calderon said. “I’m working on having a beer license in here so we can have a small bar.”
Calderon said they will soon have a T1 connection, a high bandwidth multi-channel internet connection, for online gaming and hope to build a stage for tournament finals.
Just Play Games’ ultimate goal is to become a home for the professional players as well as the casual ones.
“We want to be a hub for the best gamers in the world to come and practice and get better,” Jeri-Greene said.
Just Play Games is open seven days a week. Its hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and until 3 a.m. Thursday and Friday.

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