A new “gaming center” just opened up i…

A new “gaming center” just opened up in Cary, the kind of place with a room brimming with TVs and video game consoles where you can go and pay for a few hours of game time. My first reaction is excitement. Well, no, my first reaction was “Are you kidding?” when I learned the name of the place is “RUaGamer”. Ugh.

So, my second reaction was excitement. Finally, a new place to go to get the LAN experience and play games with friends!

Unfortunately, this place does not use a new business model, and I hate to say it, but I don’t think it’ll be any more successful than in previous incarnations. See, there have been other gaming centers like this before, like The Tek that opened up on Hillsborough St around 2004-2005 as a combination LAN gaming center and coffee shop. It last a year or two, switched to being just a coffee shop, and then closed down. There was also a GameFrog in Cary Town Center a few months ago but it’s gone now too.

And then, of course, back around the turn of the century, there was TGZ, the Triangle Gaming Zone, which was a little hole in the wall that was the same thing: a whole bunch of PCs, networked together, with all the latest games to play, paid for by the hour.

And all of them are gone now.

Again, this kinda pains me to say, because this is the type of joint that I, as a gamer myself, should love. But somehow I just can’t justify $6/hour to play video games. They are trying to sell the social experience of gaming, but I can get 80% of that just by using VOIP programs like Ventrilo to talk to my friends over the internet while we play some game together from our dorms.

But I won’t deny that getting a few friends together at RUaGamer would be pretty awesome now and then. I remember the most successful part of both TGZ’s and The Tek’s business models were their lock-ins. Show up at 10pm, pay $15, and play until 8am. Those events were awesome. I don’t know if RUaGamer is planning on running regular lock-ins, but they really should be. They’re what kept The Tek alive so long.

The other thing is just the hourly rate. There’s something about $6/hour that just makes me want to run the other way. The $25 all-day pass is a little closer to the right thing. I think I’d pay $25 for a lock-in that I didn’t have to bring my computer for.

But I think they really need to look at some kind of memberships. $50/year, and then hours are $2-3 a piece afterward. Don’t make the memberships unlimited access or you may run in to overcrowding, but they definitely need some way to make the marginal price of an hour lower.

I wish them luck, and I’ll likely stop by to have a look at their facility some time, if only to see how it compares with previous efforts, before the outfit goes Tango Uniform.