When Reynoldsburg resident Ken Jones was laid off from his information technology job at The Limited, he and his wife, Barbara, knew it wasn’t time to declare "game over."
"We had to decide whether we wanted to work for someone else, or take the opportunity and work for ourselves," Barbara Jones explained.
They decided on the second option.
The result is Gamerz, offering more than 30 video gaming stations with large-screen, high-definition television screens available for hourly rental at 1940 State Route 256 in Reynoldsburg.
The business opened in December. The Joneses looked at several potential enterprises, including a cafe, before deciding that video games were the way to go.
After all, her husband and son, Daniel, are "addicted" to the games, Barbara said. "And video games aren’t going anywhere."
In fact, they just keep getting better and better, with almost movie-like graphics and interactive capabilities.
The advances are pretty impressive for the Joneses, who remember when Pong and Pac-Man were pretty big deals.
Gamerz is a place where people can play the latest games and socialize at the same time.
"It’s like a modern-day arcade," Barbara Jones said.
Gamerz is the first video gaming location in central Ohio. Similar businesses operate in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Los Angeles.
They have all the latest systems, including XBoxX360 and seven Nintendo Wiis, and the most popular games, featuring Halo 3, Guitar Hero and Madden 08, among others in an always-expanding inventory.
Customers rent the stations during regular hours at $5 an hour for the 42-inch or 50-inch screens, $8 for the 65-inch and $15 for the 100-inch screen.
After-school special rates, Monday-Thursday, from 1-5 pm., and Fridays, noon-5 p.m., are $3, $5 and $11.
"That’s cheaper than a movie," Barbara Jones pointed out.
There are other advantages. Visiting Gamerz is a way to test-run the newest games before spending big bucks.
"I remember spending $50 or $60 on a game and having it sit on the shelf," Jones said.
All-day passes are available. And customers can rent the party room for $40 an hour (two-hour minimum) that includes a 100-inch projection TV and two 42-inch screens.
The room can accommodate up to 12 players and extra stations can be rented.
The Joneses have also been scheduling special events, with weekly tournaments with cash prizes, and lock-ins.
"Our New Year’s Eve lock-in was sold out," Barbara Jones said.
An all-day party is planned for Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, with the game on the 100-inch projection TV and video games and food from 1-10 p.m., for $25 per person.
A Valentine’s Day special, with a free hour for every hour purchased, is being offered.
Customers are issued a membership card, which helps the owners keep track of who is coming through the door.
For customers under 17, parents sign a consent form designating the ratings of the games their children are allowed to play – "E" for everyone, "T" for teen and "M" for mature.
There are benefits to playing today’s video games, Ken Jones offered. The sophisticated systems help develop quick reflexes and teach gamers how to think on their feet.
The Nintendo Wii games, such as boxing, require the player to get up off the couch and move around.
These games are being used to help senior citizens remain active, he said.
Running a business has been a big change for Barbara Jones, who had been a stay-at-home mom and a school volunteer for Daniel and daughter Cassie, a student at Hannah Ashton Middle School.
Other challenges were encountered at the same time the business was launched. The week that they committed to opening, Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer. But they are forging ahead.
Gamerz is the kind of business the entire family can get involved in, they discovered.
"They like coming down here," Jones said of the kids.
And it has allowed the family to continue to be involved with the schools. They offer games nights twice a month, with $1 going to the Reynoldsburg schools for every hour played.
They have contacted schools in Pickerington and Gahanna with a similar offer.
The companies he has worked for, including The Limited, have a commitment to giving back to the community, Ken Jones said, and that is something he wanted to continue in his own business.
Information about Gamerz is at www.gamerzwin.com. The business can be reached at 751-6500.