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] First question: what was the inspiration for Gamerz?
Well it was a combination of a couple of things. First, I’m a gamer, and one of the things that always used to frustrate me was I’d play online (I’m a very competitive person), and this was in COD3, COD2, Halo. When you play online you’re subject to lag, and the guy who didn’t have the lag had an advantage. He’d skate all over the screen. Some people had lag switches. They’d throw on the lag switch, skate around a corner, kill you, turn off the lag switch and you never saw them. It drove me and my clan nuts! I got really frustrated with that, and I knew if we were on a LAN there’d be no lag, everyone would have he same situation. I wanted a competitive environment where everyone would be equal, where we could take the lag factor out of it. It’d be a situation where true skill comes into play, it wouldn’t just be against a guy with a slower connection. So that was one of the main inspirations for Gamerz.
The other is that I love gaming, and I always wanted a job where I could play video games. And with this job I get to do that, everybody who works here does, because that’s part of the job. You have to know the games and learn then. Every employee here gets to learn the games—for every 20 hours of work you get a free hour of game time. They can also come in and play online for free, which is a nice perk. At night when there are no customers here, they can play when they’re done with their work. It boils down to I just love videogames.
[Nathan Murray] ok, cool. So how do you conduct business? What’s your business model?
Whew, that’s broad. Haha, let’s see, so the question is what are all your trade secrets? [laughs]
[Nathan Murray] No, no, just generally how are things run around here?
Well, very basically we rent time on systems. That’s the basic premise. We have TVs, Xboxes, Wiis. We package those things together as a system, and customers rent those systems. We charge a different rate depending on the size of the screen. Software comes with the rate for the screen, you can change games as often as you like, so that’s a fairly high level view of what we do. We found that a significant portion of our business come from birthday parties, and outside events. Like this morning, I was at an Army recruiting tournament that we ran for them. We kind of ran it together, but it was our equipment and our processes. We brought the copies of the game and set it up. Occasionally we do that for schools, and dances. Like last year Reynoldsburg had the Tomato Festival, and we were there advertising ourselves. We were there for the Reynoldsburg Halloween Festival. We’re doing a company party here in town, we’re taking 17 TVs, 7 Xboxes, 5 Wiis, we’re going to set them up in a theatre arrangement on a stage and people can come up and play it as part of the company party event.
[Nathan Murray] So Gamerz is mobile?
Yeah, we take our show on the road so to speak. There’s limitations—we can’t take all our systems obviously, it’s just not very practical, so this will be one of the bigger ones we’ve done where we take 7 gaming stations basically. And they only wanted certain games, 5 or 6 games, so we don’t have to bring are whole library with us. As I said we do birthdays, we had one last night where a group rented half the facility for 3 hours. They had 25 kids in here, and they were younger kids, with this half of the building all to themselves, and it got a little busy. The other half was really busy because it was Friday night, so it was kind of packed and a little crazy.
[Sean Colleli] Do you get college parties?
Not really, we had a LAN party that was a practice run, we did that last Tuesday, and it was kind of a dry run to see it we could make that work. We ran into a couple issues with displays and resolution, because we use the big TVs as monitors for the computers, and people bring in their own laptops and rigs. We have plenty of tables for people to set up their keyboards and mice. We hope to do that probably twice a month, with a LAN party here, who knows how many people we’ll get. As for college parties, we do have young people come in who are in college, like one time we had between 6 and 8 come in as a group. It is a fairly popular thing for college kids to do, because nowhere else can you have all these systems linked together and you get your own screen and everybody can play against each other.
We’ve had the Sheriff’s department, the deputies come in, and they’ll do a COD tournament. I guess they want to take their aggressions out on videogames instead of criminals [laughs]. We’ve also had youth groups that come in, church groups. We’ve had one that’s come in 3 times now. It’s a good opportunity for a safe, family oriented environment.
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