It’s no secret that the coronavirus has taken a lot from local kids: in-person school, visits to see the latest movies, hangouts with friends, and everything in between. Life has moved online to Zoom calls and Google Classrooms.
Though Chris Chavez pursued a similar business before the pandemic, his new “Gamers Garage” is proving a serendipitous, COVID-friendly addition to the area that aligns with this new way of life.
“With COVID and everything, there’s not much for kids to do,” Chavez said. “My wife was saying ‘Gosh, the kids love to play games,’ and I thought there’s got to be a safe way to allow them to do that while still enforcing the distancing rules, there’s just got to be a way.”
Enter: Gamers Garage. Coincidentally, the business location at 150 E. E St., Oakdale, used to be an internet cafe years ago, and Chavez has re-made it to fit today’s current needs.
The Garage, now a hybrid internet cafe and gaming sanctuary, holds 15 stations for local kids and teens to come and game. The stations are socially distanced, regularly cleaned, and a mask policy is enforced.
“This place is perfect for something like COVID because you’re isolated here, the monitors block each other, there’s no interaction, they’re parked at their station … this is individualistic and it makes it easier for me to make it safer,” Chavez said.
He added that it’s not some sort of arcade, where people are standing around and playing games. Rather, it’s a sit down affair and through mics and headphones, gamers are able to interact with friends all around.
The hope is that when coronavirus has died down, he’ll set up some more stations and change the layout to best fit gamers’ needs.
This also isn’t just some random idea that popped into Chavez’s mind. As someone with plenty of experiences in new ventures and gaming businesses, this is just the next innovative step that he’s taken to provide for the community.
“I’ve learned over the years that you can’t go halfway in. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to have to do it right,” he said.
This motto is visible within the business: each station is set up to a full capacity with high end computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, and headset. Chavez wants the place to be somewhere that gamers can go, knowing that they’re getting the highest quality for their gaming.
“The main point is that it’s a safe place for people to come and it’s relatively inexpensive,” he noted, adding that it’s only $5 per hour to game and there’s also other bundles included.
Chavez ultimately wants to assure gamers and parents alike that his business is a complete deal. For those gaming, he has a house account for 99 percent of games, snacks and drinks are available, and there’s high speed internet. He’s also starting overnight tournaments where gamers are locked into the space all night playing against each other for hours on end with pizza and soda provided.
As a parent, Chavez knows that the Gamers Garage is a great deal. Along with the great pricing – “I mean, it’s $12.50 for three hours, and they’ll have a good time … they can play until 10 on a Friday, like go out and have dinner” – he also is implementing safety restrictions as well. Chavez can set each individual system to lock out games that are rated “mature” and “18 and up” so parents can control what their kids are playing.
Along with all of this, he also has set up a Twitch station for gamers to stream at and has even had teachers utilize it for their classes.
Though the Gamers Garage doesn’t open up until 10 a.m., it is still school-friendly. With bundled hours and the ability to restrict computers to lock out games and just use platforms like Google Chrome and Zoom for school, it’s a safe place for students to get work done.
This is all just the beginning. Chavez soon hopes to start teaching classes on what goes into a computer, how they all work, and how to repair them to those gamers who are interested. It’s a place for him to share his love for gaming and wealth of knowledge with new faces.
Overall, Chavez’s Gamers Garage is a timely new business for the region. For further information on pricing and any questions about hours, reserving the space for parties, or anything else, visit https://www.gamersgarageoakdale.com/ or call 214-9295.