Archive for March 9th, 2011

EDIT: I added pictures of Save Point to break up the wall of text, as I said I would. To quote Radiohead, “If you think this is over, you’re wrong”

By Kirk (Twitter) (My individual blog)

Hello there folks, and welcome to my first entry on this group blog. I aim to publish a series of blogs on the subject of gaming in Morgantown. A little about myself before I get to it. I’ve played games for as long as I can remember, starting with Super Mario Brothers and most recently culminating in a game of Halo: Reach Team Slayer. I don’t like Madden or Gran Turismo (if I wanted to actually play football or drive a car, I’d do those things instead of their virtual counterparts) and I think Halo is the best shooter series around. I can’t stand the most recent Call of Duty games.

Here’s my Bungie.net profile, here’s my WoW character (although my WoW career has suffered considerably due to school), and
Get your Portable ID!

So without further ado, let’s relate this to Morgantown already!

Save Point is a gaming cafe of sorts, with 20 high performance, custom built PCs running the latest and greatest in LAN-friendly software. But hold that thought. First we will see from whence this new establishment has come.

Sarah Baucom believes that Save Point truly began in 2000, when she dreamt of opening just such a place. For ten years, the idea lay dormant, until she lost her job in December 2009. It was then that she decided to open her own game destination, a hub for the area gaming community. She and her boyfriend Owen Raudenbush went into business together and on September 27, 2010, Save Point opened in its South High Station location.

Sarah and Owen are the sole operators of the business, working long hours until they can get a better handle on when gamers want to come in. Still, the couple doesn’t mind.

“I would rather do this than anything else,” Sarah says with a smile.

Sarah Baucom playing Rock Band (courtesy of Save Point's website)

The cafe is a pay-to-play establishment (pricing info here for those who are interested) but this is not its primary purpose, I am informed.

“It’s about coming here and playing with people… It’s a real community thing,” Sarah informs me.

“It’s very community oriented; people sometimes bring in food to share,” adds Owen.

The actual computers in the cafe are custom built and networked together.

Among other things, the cafe boasts its own Minecraft server, which I toured during my time there. It was a lovely little world, and everybody’s creations were linked together by a meticulously constructed mine cart railway. League of Legends, StarCraft II and World of Warcraft are typical fare for Save Point’s customers, but there is a projector screen for console gaming as well.

I played that game of Halo which I linked up at the top of this post on this screen, and I was pleased to find that it was entirely lag free. Indeed, the large screen was a very pleasant gaming experience, complemented by the excellent sound system. Plasma grenades detonated with jarring thuds, and each explosion sizzled across the screen with violent intensity. Good stuff.

The actual room is interesting. The walls are adorned with original drawings by Sarah and Owen’s friend Melinda Brand, a local artist and WVU student who is currently studying computer character design (and who also takes commissions, by the way).

Not all of the characters have been completely colored yet, it’s a work in progress, but the effect is still welcoming without crossing the line into kitsch.

What could have very well been bare white walls have been transformed into a heartfelt tribute to the many fantastic dreamscapes we all enjoy as gamers, crossing genre lines to show a little of everything that makes gaming great, albeit with more fantasy characters than anything.

Perler bead creations in the shape of classic video game characters such as Kefka, Mario and Link hang in the front window, beckoning those familiar with their shape to come and see.

But when it comes down to it, Save Point isn’t about the extras, or the well-appointed gaming atmosphere; it’s about the community of gamers meant to congregate and enjoy the space together.

“One of our regulars just bought a new computer, but he’s down here every night for the community,” says Owen. A nearby patron adds his assent and Sarah nods in agreement.

So as a jumping off point for our journey through Morgantown’s gaming scene, it’s hard to do better than Save Point.

Here is where you can find Save Point. And I apologize, since WordPress is being particularly uncooperative right now, I am forced to give you a link to this rather than embed it here.

That does it for Save Point. Stop in and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood, they’re friendly folks. Until next week, folks.

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