For Brandon Doctor, video gaming is not just a hobby, it is a sort of lifestyle.
As the owner, operator and current manager of PLAYlive Nation, a social gaming lounge in the Palouse Mall in Moscow, Doctor has made a career out of the joy of gaming and bringing players together.
Only the 30th PLAYlive Nation in the nation and just one of a few in the Pacific Northwest, Doctor said the lounge brings something new to the area.
“There isn’t a whole lot here in the way of entertainment,” Doctor said. “We have a movie theater, but other than that, Moscow really needed some excitement.”
Doctor hoped to bring that feeling of excitement to Moscow, especially the student age population in the area. The lounge, which officially opened May 12, took a little longer to get up and running than Doctor originally expected, he said. Doctor said PLAYlive nation opened just as many college students left town, meaning the lounge will have to make another first impression come fall.
“There were a lot of little steps to complete,” Doctor said. “It was a long process with all the technology, but it was all worth it.”
The lounge, complete with 28 gaming stations, is fit for 30 people to play any sort of video game all at once. The walls are lined with TVs and Xbox gaming consoles, while plush chairs are placed in front of each setup. Each console features games for young to advanced players, with many of the games being first-person combat games, racing games, sports games and roleplaying games.
In the center of the room, tables are arranged so that customers can play anything from a generic board game to trading games like Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon. Merchandise is also available for those in need of gaming gear, like games, gadgets, collectibles and apparel.
Doctors said most customers come in looking to play from a selection of the lounges vast video game collection.
He said gamers can buy an hour of game time all the way up to weekly passes, which feature unlimited all-day-play.
The lounge also offers parties, couples nights, tournaments and all night gaming.
“There is a little bit of everything for everyone,” Doctor said.
He said the main focus of the lounge is the social aspect. By offering video games that allow for multiple players and board games that can involve a number of players, he said being social is bound to happen when a customer plays around other like-minded customers.
“We are trying to bring the gaming community together,” Doctor said.
Rather than the obvious demographic of preteens and teenagers, Doctors said the fun atmosphere PLAYlive Nation produces brings in an array of customer ages.
“We have seven year olds playing against 70 year olds,” Doctor said. “Our goal is to be the YMCA of the gaming community.”
Doctor said although gaming, in any form, can get competitive, the lounge provides a safe and tolerant space for people to enjoy their time spent gaming.
“I appreciate the banter, the excitement, the fun of competition, the occasional ‘come at me’s,’ but you can do that without being rude or vulgar,” Doctor said.
Although some might call PLAYlive Nation an arcade, Doctor said the term social gaming lounge is more encompassing.
“It’s not like the old arcades where you stand in front of a big box and throw in some quarters — this is all much more high tech,” Doctor said. “So, I guess you could call us the new age arcade.”
Doctor said even though many people say they are not gamers, he still considers everyone a gamer on some level. Whether it be a phone app or a favorite board game, he said most everyone has a gaming spirit.
“That’s what makes me happy — people can come in here and feel safe and welcome, doing something that they love or trying something for the first time,” Doctor said. “It’s all about bridging the gap, and bringing people together.”
Hailey Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Hailey_ann97