30 April 2019
A trip to South Korea or Japan will afford a glimpse into the world of internet and gaming cafés. The culture surrounding these venues is so prolific and popular that gaming has found a cultural foothold, oftentimes being a highly important part of everyday life.
These internet cafés are so important, in fact, that they often sell food and drinks in order to satisfy the needs of the community within. While this type of business is lesser known in American culture, its success overseas is alluring to inventors who are willing to make the leap.
Brian Winslow and Mitchell Anderson seek to cash in on this untouched aspect of gaming culture through their new business Network Tangle Gaming. This internet café, complete with a bar and kitchen, is also home to a large number of gaming computers for “Magic: The Gathering” and “Hearthstone” gaming tournaments on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to name two.
While the bar is temporarily limited, with plans to expand in the future, the kitchen is capable of creating a small yet delicious menu with examples ranging from Mom’s Mac & Cheese to BBQ Chicken Pizza. Additionally, they offer memberships which give you advance placement on gaming computers with discounts for students and military members.
The café’s somewhat distant location from campus on Oro Blanco Drive quickly becomes a non-issue once you step through the door. The dimly lit interior lends to a warm and comforting environment, perfect for community and gaming sessions.
There are two sections that dominate the gaming area to the right of the front counter. The computer section, which hugs the front of the café, hosts a large row of computers.
Behind this is a more communal area with couches, additional gaming chairs and a number of VR-capable gaming systems. More computers hug the back walls, creating an inclusive environment that promotes a nice sense of community. The couches, which border a large open area for virtual reality players, offer a nice place for spectators to watch the action.
While the café currently has limited hours localized to the afternoon and evenings, the owners do expect their hours to expand to meet customer demand.
Fridays are their busiest days, often playing host to a full house, with around twenty people for all of the computers plus additional spectators. Though that does not mean that the earlier weekdays are not as active.
One of the most gratifying aspects of the café is the people. Winslow, who you may be able to find working the front counter, was not only actively participating in discussion but was incredibly courteous to his customers.
In regards to a pizza that a customer had ordered, he said “Let me know how that pizza comes out. Seth made the dough and it’s not stretching right.”
I could tell in his voice that any disappointment from the customer would result in an overextension of service to make things right. In fact, Winslow ended up doing just that and stated “I’m not going to charge you for that” to the customer.
This form of management was astonishingly wholesome and it resulted in an easy-going environment that was quite refreshing.
As a more casual gamer who does not participate in competitive gaming culture, it was interesting to see the dynamic established in the “Magic: The Gathering” tournament that night. Gamers from multiple walks of life came together with relative ease and settled into a rhythm of gaming, eating, and socializing.
While the gaming café scene is only slowly gaining steam in Colorado Springs, it is nice to see options beginning to appear. The sense of community that arises from these places is invaluable for a community that primarily operates online over large distances.
Some people might not understand the gaming community and might even mislabel it as anti-social; however, the tendency for community is there given the correct conditions. Cafés such as Network Tangle Gaming offer the correct conditions.