SHEBOYGAN – The old Carquest building on Indiana Avenue sat vacant for about half a dozen years, but on Jan. 2 it will start emitting an entertaining glow from LED lights, PC monitors and old-school Nintendo systems.
Game On, an esports venue, is revitalizing an abandoned corner of the city and turning it into an entertainment hub for the whole community. It contains 15 video game consoles like Xbox, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, along with 24 high-end gaming PCs. People can pay to play by the hour or purchase daily, monthly or annual passes.
Justin Webb, owner of Sun Graphics Media, purchased Game On — which was based in Fond du Lac at the time — after Sun Graphics employee and nationally ranked gamer Jared Dutra brought up its potential. They discussed buying it with five other employees at Sun Graphics, who thought it was a good idea.
Webb and his wife decided to split ownership of Game On with those six employees — Dutra, Ashley Truttschel, Callah Kraus, Marcus Diedrich, Casey Carr and Calian Schrader. They will all continue to work at Sun Graphics while also running Game On.
Beyond the gaming equipment, there will be a studio where gamers can stream, which is when gamers play live and share it over a platform so others can watch. A large screen hangs on the back wall of the space to watch streams from YouTube or Twitch, a commonly used streaming platform.
The space is also designed to host tournaments. Webb said they anticipate their first tournament in January, and according to Diedrich, they are a potential venue for the Wisconsin High School Esports Association’s state tournament.
Near the front of the gaming area, there is a cluster of retro consoles that Webb refers to as “parents’ corner.” Parents who bring their kids in to play can use those systems for free.
“Part of the vision is bringing back family game night,” Carr said.
Schrader said they also hope to eliminate the stigma of behavioral problems that is often assigned to gaming. He said gaming can provide real career, entertainment and social opportunities.
Webb echoed that by saying gaming is about competition and strategy, and those skills can be applicable in life beyond gaming, like the business world.
“It has nothing to do with gender, age or socioeconomic status,” Webb said. “Esports is the only place you could compete against anyone and it’s completely fair.”
Food and beverages will be available for sale, and Carr said there will be unique options that use local products. Webb said they will serve Torke’s Weeden Creek organic coffee. They hope to serve beer and wine starting in February.
A golf simulator, equipped with other games like baseball, and a virtual reality simulator are expected to be added to the space, as well.
Pricing for Game On is $7 for the first hour and $5 for each additional hour after that. A day pass is $25 and a monthly pass is $80. Annual passes are available for $299, but are on sale for $199 through Dec. 25.
Game On is located at 2729 Indiana Ave. It is slated to open Jan. 2.
Reach AnnMarie Hilton at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @hilton_annmarie.
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