Gamerz Interview Part 3

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posted 9/19/2008 by Nathan Murray
other articles by Nathan Murray
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Part 3 Interview with Ken Jones

Ken Jones always has a thoughtful look on his face when talking to customers and it is not because he is daydreaming. Ken always makes sure that if he doesn’t have the answer or the solution to a problem he will get right to work finding a solution. Ken often works late and, even when he is playing a game himself, won’t hesitate to help a customer.

[Nathan Murray] What are some of your favorite game titles?
I go through phases, but the one I probably like the best is COD3 or COD4. I like Crackdown, I loved Dead Rising for a period of time, I’ve played through Oblivion two or three times now.

[Nathan Murray] wow, that’s impressive.

[Sean Colleli] —so you’re probably looking forward to Fallout 3.
I’m not familiar with that one.

[Sean Colleli] —it’s a science fiction Oblivion, basically.
Well I’m definitely looking forward to Civilization Revolution. I love that series, and I love strategy games. It’s primarily PC based, so you don’t see many strategy games on a console, but this new one sounds like it will be easy to play on a console and worth its salt.

[Nathan Murray] are employees allowed to compete in tournaments?
Well that was our starting rule, but we have changed that because of scheduling conflicts, because tournaments happen on Saturdays, when most people can get here and also when most of our employees are working!

I mean, we want everyone to be able to play, I don’t want the perception to be that if an employee is playing and they win, well then some customers might think “oh, well they let them win because they work here.” So first rule was that employees can’t participate in tournaments. Most of our tournaments happen after a lock-in the previous night, so all the employees are scheduled to come in and work with me.

[Nathan Murray] I noticed the security cameras; what other methods do you use to insure the safety of your store and your customers?
I’m not going to answer the first question, but I will answer the second one. To insure the safety of our customers, a few things. The cameras are a deterrent, everyone knows they’re there. We have been broken into, so we have a security system and cameras but that’s only a deterrent. If someone wants to get in they’re going to do it and steal your stuff. We have an adult in the building all the time, we have panic buttons that go directly to the police. We have emergency buttons on our security system for police, fire and hospital, so we don’t even have to dial 911. We have fire extinguishers, and it’s an open building so if there’s a fire, it’s not a problem, people can exit easily and safely.

[Nathan Murray] what about medical problems? I know when the N64 was first coming out seizures were a big concern with parents.
There are still warnings for that on all the games when you start them up, and the manuals have that printed on the first page.

[Sean Colleli] Yeah, I think the Wii shows you that right when you turn it on.
So we haven’t had any issues with that.

[Nathan Murray] I just thought the risk for that might be compounded with all the screens going at the same time.
Well it hasn’t really been an issue because when you’re playing a game, you’re focused only on your game. When we originally designed the layout, we started with every TV having its own room, and that was very cost prohibitive, and it looked like a prison [laughs]. We thought, well, we have Wiis, you need to move your arms and you’d be banging into the walls so we played with different things and ended up with a completely open environment. We found that when all the games are going and the sound is at the same level, you’re focused on your game and everything else disappears. So it’s really not an issue.

[Nathan Murray] Do players with ADD or a similar conditions have trouble concentrating?
We have a lot of players with ADD and they’re not afraid to tell you that, but they’ve never had any problems so it isn’t an issue and I don’t think it will be one.

[Nathan Murray] as far as gamers sitting side by side, have you had any problems with people running into each other, or Wii remotes flying across the room or anything?
No, we had a Wii remote get banged into a screen accidentally, but one of the rules of the game room is no running or horseplay.

[Sean Colleli] So there’s a wrist strap policy when you’re playing the Wii?
Yeah, you always sinch up the wrist strap. We haven’t had any real problems, but there are people who aren’t used to the Wii, and they get right up to the screen when they’re punching or boxing, so we tell them it’s good up to 15 feet, 30 feet is fine too, trust me!

[Nathan Murray] Have you had any problems with, shall we say, unsavory customers?
We had one tournament where tempers got really heated, and that’s the closest thing to unsavory conduct. Since then we changed our tournament rules, and we always ask the entrants, “did you read the rules?” The first section in there says good sportsmanship is required. One of the 7 rules of the game room is respect other players, keep your noise level down, don’t harass other players. So that’s a basic rule of the game room; if you don’t abide by that you’re violating your part of the agreement and we reserve the right to kick you out.

(Ken goes on to read the Gamerz official policy toward unsavory behavior).

We put that in after we had an incident during a tournament. Actually, there were some fists flying. It started with trash talking, and then a girl hit a guy. After that happened we made sure the policy was clear, and I say it before each tournament.
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