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Archive for the ‘Kirk / Gaming’ Category

Vintage Videos & Games

Greetings folks, and welcome to what may very well be the final post of Mountaineer Life. We are going to look at Vintage Videos & Games, a Morgantown game store located right on High Street. Its storefront includes a lovely display case full of gaming artifacts.

Don't see this lineup very often

The display is certainly intriguing, a definite plus to having a store in this location.

Shall we see what's inside?

The first thing that hit me when I entered Vintage Videos & Games was the sheer abundance of inventory.

Newer goods

Vintage Video & Games doesn't skimp on the video, as evidenced by this small slice of its DVD/HDDVD/Blu Ray collection

The second thing that hit me was the variety of the store’s inventory. The store’s inventory spans a huge amount of gaming history, from Atari to current gen and everything in between. Particularly notable is the NES game library, which attracts many collectors to the business. Sega Genesis games are also abundant.

Sega Genesis cartridges waiting for a home, with NES cartridges flanking on the right

Vintages Videos & Games also does a lively trade in classic consoles, with many such specimens on display in the shop.

Check the Jaguar box up there. Don't see one of those every day

Some classic consoles waiting in the wings

They even have a…

So cool

So clearly the place lives up to its name. But how did it come to be? I spoke with the place’s founder/owner Kevin Riggleman, who gave me the bildungsroman of Vintage Videos & Games.

The store opened in 1996, but in a form different than its current one. Initially, the place served as a cross between a video game flea market and a bazaar for other enterprising folk. The place was populated by private owners with their own individual tables and stock. As time wore on, however, this approach faded into the annals of history, leaving the more traditionally structured Vintage Videos & Games as we know it today.

Kevin explained the store’s situation at the outset of our tale. “We might have had 100 games when we first started,” he said. “We had one 8×3 card table with all of our stock on it.” Looking around at the establishment’s overflowing shelves, this statement seemed far-fetched, but Kevin simply shrugged. “Every month it [our stock] got a little bigger.”

Kevin (in the red)and Drew (in the olive drab jacket) talk shop behind the sales counter

Drew Moyer, an employee at Vintage Videos & Games, discussed the biggest problem facing the store. “Piracy is really bad for us,” he stated. Both Kevin and Drew bemoaned the burgeoning problem of entertainment piracy. Given that about half of their business is in movies, the combination of Netflix and movie piracy is cutting into the store’s bottom line.

Drew mans the register

I asked Drew and Kevin about their level of involvement in the Morgantown gaming community. Kevin has been by Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming a few times, having played D&D since way back. Drew, a huge City of Heroes fan, doesn’t really see a need to venture down to Save Point in light of the fact that his own PC setup is top notch. Still, the two were aware of the businesses I’ve been covering. They were particularly generous in their praise of Sarah and Owen down at Save Point, and glad to hear (from me) that Save Point was going strong.

One last interesting aside: Ryan, one of the brothers who founded The Game Exchange, worked at Vintage Videos & Games for four years before he began his current job over there. Small world, eh?

So that about wraps ‘er up. If nobody else posts after me, let it be known that it has been a pleasure writing about gaming in Morgantown for the past month or two. I hope you folks have learned as much as I have about this truly wonderful hobby and the community which sustains it. From all of us here at Mountaineer Life, thanks for reading. And if you still want to hear what I have to say about gaming, head over to Mountaineergamer.com and check it out, or follow me on Twitter @Capnwinters

-Kirk Auvil

My gaming blog: MountaineerGamer.com
My Twitter (also featuring gaming, as well as other topical/humorous stuff): @Capnwinters

Vintage Videos & Games Facebook page

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A Meeting of the Minds

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in the trenches of Morgantown’s gaming scene. We’ve looked at tabletop gaming, a Smash Bros. tournament, and the businesses which sustain these things. West Virginia University, however, has not been featured. Well that’s about to change, as I recently attended a meeting of gamers in WVU’s Colson Hall. I went into the meeting with but a faint idea of what to expect. The email I received stated that “This event is part of a cross-university, interdisciplinary series of brainstorming sessions establishing the future scope of computer games and virtual technologies at WVU.”

The meeting began within these hallowed halls

The meeting’s stated purpose, as presented in the email, was this: “Let’s get together, talk about computer gaming and virtual technologies, and plan the future.” The meeting pretty much followed that format, steered almost entirely by audience participation rather than a set agenda.

Our initial instructions

We chatted a bit beforehand, getting to know one another and talking about the games we enjoy.

Professor Ballentine chats with the crowd before the meeting

The first question dealt with the games we currently play. As would be expected, there was a large range of interests in the room. Board games, RPGs, FPSs and RTSs and Indie games were all mentioned. The professors in attendance weren’t slouches either; they were very vocal about the games they play. There was a grad student there who was doing a thesis on the depiction of Russians in the CoD: Modern Warfare games.

This led to a discussion about why we enjoy the games we do. One fellow opined that games “…allow you to do what you want to do that you can’t do in real life… They remove the negative aspects of doing things you can’t do in real life. Good games take out the negative and boring aspects, while leaving you with the fun stuff.” This led to a hearty discussion of when the level of realism in a game can be taken too far, making the game boring.

Gamers of all ages were in attendance

After this preliminary discussion of what we like and why, we got to the real meat of the matter. We were gathered there to discuss what we saw as gaming’s place in the WVU curriculum. What sort of classes would we like to see? Do we feel there’s a place for gaming in the college? How could we integrate gaming into existing structures? These questions stimulated a lot of discussion.

One proposal was that there should be a class offered to students in each of the disciplines involved in game design. For instance, an English student, a Computer Science student and a Music major could take cooperative game design courses within their majors. Then these classes would assign their members into groups. Each group would work on a game over the course of a semester, presenting the finished game at the semester’s end.

It’s an unrefined idea, but I found it very refreshing to be in a room of people who liked the suggestion rather than rejecting it out of hand. Further suggestions included a class on the philosophy of game design as well as a class probing the future of game development. Both received serious consideration, and were discussed at length. I was amazed; here we were, in a room full of gaming professors, and they were pushing for gaming to be included in WVU’s curriculum in some way or another.

We also talked about video games as a medium, and whether they should be considered art. I made a lengthy speech on the matter, bemoaning their current lack of respect as a storytelling medium. Others agreed, and we talked about games which we think are art. I mentioned Braid; an art student in attendance put forth Psychonauts.


Art ^


Art ^

We talked for over an hour and a half, but eventually it was time to part ways. In closing, we were informed that Professor Ballentine will be teaching a course about video game narratives this Fall, and that it’s going to test the waters for more gaming courses in the future. I left happy, delighted to have taken part in such a discussion. And for any WVU students interested in taking the course, here’s the breakdown:

ENGL 306 Topics in Humanities Computing 87585 LEC 001 TR 3 1600-1715 3/22 G06 CLN-D CWA Ballentine, B. 22-AUG-2011 17-DEC-2011 16 RL

Thus I look forward to the next meeting up in the ivory tower that is WVU. If student input can do anything to bring gaming to the WVU curriculum, I feel honor bound to make that happen.

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Smash fans rejoice!

I’ve previously covered Save Point as a great destination for gamers in Morgantown, but in my quest to plumb the depths of the town’s gaming culture, I returned to discover how much interest / community exists around the tournaments at Save Point.

Quick disclaimer: interest varies wildly from tournament to tournament, so this is not an infallible indication of community interest in these tournaments. For instance, a StarCraft 2 tournament will draw many more people than a Smash Bros. tournament simply due to the fact that SC2 players tend to be very competitive, and that the game is particularly well-suited to tournament play.

And now let’s meet the tournament entrants:

#1
Name: Victor Bonfili
Photo:

Victor Bonfili battling an unfortunate opponent


Status: Senior at Morgantown High School
Note: Victor won the previous Smash Bros. tournament at Save Point
Weaknesses: None
Main:

Lucario, Sinnoh Pokedex #116, a Fighting/Steel type Aura Pokemon


Secondary:

Lucas, a young tyke from the Japanese game "Mother 3"

#2
Name: Matt Starn
Photo:

Matt Starn wasn't terribly excited


Status: Junior at Morgantown High School
Note: Brother of Nick Starn
Main:

From Pikmin of course


Secondary:

Good ol' Fox

#3
Name: Nick Starn
Photo:

Nick Starn, intent on Smash Bros.


Status: Senior at Morgantown High School
Note: Brother of Matt Starn
Main:

RANDOM

#4
Name: Alex Stolar
Photo:

Alex Stolar, wearing the shirt he won at PAX East


Status: Freshman Computer Science major @ WVU
Note: Previously won PAX East CoD: Black Ops & Crysis 2 tournaments
Main:

Link, the Hero of Time


Secondary:

Samus Aran, protagonist of the Metroid series as well as an accomplished space bounty hunter

#5
Name: Fadi Amin
Photo:

Last but not least, Fadi Amin, master of projectiles


Status: Senior at Morgantown High School
Note: Has defeated current champion Victor in tourneys past
Main:

Pit from Kid Icarus, an ancient NES game. "The fight is on!"


Secondary:

Samus, pictured here in her Zero Suit

The tournament was structured in a round robin format, and spectators filtered past periodically to see who was on top. Rather than discuss each individual match, I will instead relate the tone of the experience. It was a good time for all; it’s not often that one gets to play video games with an audience, after all. Observers are mandatory when you play Smash Bros. too. The game has its own crowd soundtrack built into it!

Unfortunately, the players essentially were the crowd

Yes, it’s true, not many folks game out to play in or watch the tournament. It’s a shame too, because crowd or not, these lads were going at it hammer and tongs.

Two men enter, one man leaves

Fadi playing prevent vs. Alex

Still, the behind the couch crowd was a fun addition to the tournament. The impact of a telling blow was increased exponentially by the immediate chorus of “Ooooooh!” from the peanut gallery behind the players. It’s just one of those things that happens spontaneously when a good community gathers to share an enjoyable hobby, like the table chatter at Four Horsemen Comics.

In the end, though, the match of the evening belonged to Fadi vs. Victor. Fadi played keepaway as Pit, spamming projectiles till hell wouldn’t have it. Victor, as Lucario, managed to close the gap effectively time and again, just barely edging Fadi in the end.

Fadi and Victor square off

Overall, Save Point lists Fadi and Victor as the… well… victors, but in the matches between them, Victor was victorious.

“The one match against Fadi was nerve-wracking, just ’cause he and I go at it a lot,” confessed Victor. “His character can trash almost anyone. He can sit back and chill, letting his opponent make mistakes.” As you may have noticed, readers, MHS students accounted for 4/5 of the players in the tournament, and that’s no coincidence. They all play against each other with regularity.

Victor believes that this triumph isn’t the last we’ll see of him. “I think that based on who I’ve played, I should win [the next tournament],” he confessed.

And now the challenge has been passed on to you, gentle readers. Will you allow the challenge of a mere highschooler to stand? I look forward to seeing the next tournament’s turnout, and for a true Mountaineer to take the champion’s baton from the hands of this young upstart.

Until next time,
Kirk

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Today I shall embark on a quest, appropriately enough given the topic of the post. The object of this quest is to mix it up with the Morgantown gaming community.Though I have covered three pillars of gaming here in Morgantown, I now feel that I should start focusing on events and individuals from the community to complement what I have been doing. Enter today’s post about Wednesday nights at Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming, covered in my last post.

Oh yeah. You know you want em.

The establishment was bustling this evening; it was Dungeons and Dragons Encounter Night, as well as HeroClix night. Both groups of players came in, deposited their things, then left for the food court to fuel up for the night. The brief calm was but the antecedent of the melee which was about to ensue.

I was a participant in the evening’s festivities, and after a small wait, I sat down at a table with four upstanding young gentlemen to get started. HeroClix players were opening up their tackle box-like cases full of HeroClix figurines, girding themselves for battle. I meanwhile was sitting at the second D&D table and getting to know my temporary companions.

Meet the Table 2 Crew (title not actual)

Matt Jones (playing as the wizard)

Izaak Kitzmiller (playing as the fighter)

Tyler Risbin (playing as the cleric)

And Clay Rardon, our volunteer Dungeon Master (I realized after he left that I forgot to get his picture -.- that said, these are his hands and DM stuff)

Lastly, I assumed the role of the halfling rogue

Hero Status

Normally I would’ve created my own character, but due to time constraints and the fact that I was unsure of the campaign’s power level, I went with this champion rogue and never looked back.

As you can see in the picture of Clay’s hands above, Wizards of the Coast included an embarrassment of pack-ins with the encounter materials. There was a big bag of old school plain plastic d20s as well as wax crayons to color in the numbers. Clay informed us that this was how they did it before large scale production of quality d20s was a possibility. In this session we all played premade characters, supplied to us as a supplement of the adventure. We also got D&D comic books like this:

Here are the dice we received

The past was kinda lame

So with clear eyes and full hearts, we stepped into the roles of our characters and prepared to do battle with the nefarious ghosts plaguing the township in question! We rolled initiative (an exhilarating moment for anyone who’s ever thrown a die) and launched into combat. I won’t go into the blow-by-blow, but suffice it to say that we spent the entire time trying to rescue our fighter (Izaak) from certain painful ghosty doom.

When you’re playing D&D, there’s a certain feel to the table. If the table feel isn’t right, the game is just numbers and dice. We didn’t have that problem this evening; in fact, quite the opposite was true. It was a new experience for me to play with strangers, much less while other tabletop gamers were chatting all around us. It was exactly what I had in mind when I started writing about the gaming community I was hoping to find.

Pictured: Calamity

Back in the game world, we had some bad luck. We were on the wrong end of some crits and the fighter (Izaak) was teetering on the edge of oblivion. Our cleric (Tyler) missed with his Daily power and I was rolling crappy damage, praying the big monsters didn’t turn their attention to my tiny halfling frame. Then the wizard (Matt) lit up and started pounding the bad guys, whereupon I stepped up to distract the enemies from our fallen fighter who was now ablaze.

Then we reached a comical finish to the desperate battle. The cleric pushed a ghost into one of the burning houses, immobilizing it within. We weren’t taking any chances though, so I sprinted up and kicked open the door, and the wizard sniped the scorched ghost with a magic missile to close it out. It reminded me of a breach bang and clear from Rainbow Six or something.

I wasn’t rolling hot until we finished the fight and the skill checks came on, but when I managed to roll a natural 20 for an Acrobatics check to scoop a mysterious object from the burning building. What was it? We have to wait to find out, because Clay had to leave and take his wife to work. Not cool, but real life is like that sometimes. The other gamers in the room were still going strong, however.

Some gentlemen playing HeroClix

The Dungeons and Dragons Encounters program is really neat. It serves as a way to provide a communal D&D experience to people who might otherwise be unable to do so, but on a national scale. There are optional pieces to the campaign too, as well as Twitter integration for these optional elements.

But when it comes down to it, the frills are irrelevant. This is an opportunity to meet some new people and be a part of a community of cool folks. It is precisely what I am on this blog to cover, and I wholeheartedly advise that anyone interested in tabletop gaming would do well to check the Four Horsemen calendar, follow ’em on Twitter or find them on Facebook. find an event that interests you and go check it out.

Hasta luego mis amigos,

Kirk Auvil

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Call of Duty. Assassin’s Creed. World of Warcraft. Halo. These are the names usually associated with gaming. There are numerous corporate entities, cottage industries and blogs which manage these marvels day in and day out. Just look at what we can accomplish now, simply in terms of graphics and presentation.

There is another type of gaming which exists outside of consoles and PCs, however. Tabletop gaming. And nowhere in Morgantown is there a more hospitable environment for tabletop gaming than at Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming.

The first part of the store’s name is pretty self explanatory. There are many shelves of comics, as one would expect from a comic store. Graphic novels such as The Walking Dead, the requisite serialized super hero comics and graphic interpretations of existing works such as Marvel’s take on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series sit side by side.

That said, the store’s comic selection is primarily western; those seeking a robust library of manga should look elsewhere. But the store isn’t really geared toward manga anyway. Nearly every surface of the establishment is emblazoned or adorned with some form of superhero or Star Wars character.

It always comes back to Star Wars. (photo courtesy of Four Horsemen's Facebook page)

I found the store’s selection of comics more than satisfactory, particularly when one considers that Four Horsemen has been open for about six months. And even if the store does not offer the comic you are looking for, it will be acquired with extreme prejudice. In fact, the store is counting on that very impulse to broaden its horizons.

“If there’s a comic you read, we’ll order it. And if there’s a game you play, bring it in,” says Four Horsemen co-owner Ron Davis. He adds that when the store first opened, its primary activities were tabletop stables such as Magic and Dungeons & Dragons. Over time the community began to introduce new ideas.

“We strive for a sense of community,” Ron adds. And from what I witnessed, the community has responded. I dropped in on Monday around 6 p.m. and the place was hopping. It was the kind of scene I wanted to see at Save Point, really.

“A lot of the guys, this is like their social media,” Tom says. “It’s social networking in person.”

Ron agrees. “The regulars are the reason that we’re here.”

Indeed, Four Horsemen’s motto echoes their sentiments. As the website puts it, “It’s your store, we’re just here to turn the lights on in the morning.” Ron and Tom are quick to emphasize that the store’s growth is totally driven by its patrons. Its inventory size has quadrupled since its doors opened in October 2010, and Ron is quick to credit this fact to its community’s ever-expanding interests.

The store is well-stocked for games requiring miniatures. A large shelf holds painting supplies for customizing your minis

There are also two big shelves full of Warhammer merchandise, which is a household name to any gamer worth his dice

HeroClix, a game which uses Marvel hero and villain miniatures to do battle on a grid, is now a recurring game at Four Horsemen. At a special HeroClix midnight release, the store’s featured stock was sold out in ten minutes.

The store has a dedicated community of tabletop gamers whose interests are as diverse as possible within the format. I mean, there’s diversity within the diversity! I cannot just say they play trading card games; they play everything from Pokemon to the World of Warcraft TCG to Yu-Gi-Oh! to Magic. When I visited, there was a Legend of the Five Rings TCG game going on. And these are just the ones I know they play.

There are more traditional pen and paper games such as D&D and Pathfinder.

Some folks play the miniature-based games like HeroClix and Warhammer (40k and original).

On top of the variety, the store has some official chops. It is the only location in the state which offers officially sanctioned WoW TCG play, and playing there allows you to earn honor within the WoW TCG system, which I did not even know existed. Four Horsemen also hosts an official Pokemon League every other weekend or so (check here for exact times and dates, as well as other event info).

On another note, it’s sort of odd to think that a store completely grounded in physical media would be so adept in the realm of social media, but I must remark that Four Horsemen is masterful in its use of social media. Both its Twitter and Facebook are frequently, helpfully updated with news, promotions and other information pertinent to the realms of its expertise.

I discovered that Ron was responsible for the frequent and timely updates that are such a refreshing departure from the staccato inconsistencies which all too regularly plague the social media efforts of local businesses. Gold star, Ron!

If you want to find Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming, be wary of Google Maps, for its deceitful siren’s call has sent many an enterprising young writer down long forgotten paths into treacherous warrens of death and despair (not me, of course). The store is located in the Morgantown Mall, right next to Gap, across from Bath and Bodyworks. Not in the middle of a lake, and not in the jaws of Hades.

Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to Nick Ely, the fellow from last week’s post, for directing me to this charming new establishment. Head over to his blog and say hi if you’d like. One good turn deserves another

Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming Facebook Page
@4horsemencomics

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The Game Exchange

These days, there really aren’t many locally owned game stores. Ones that are worth going to, that is. GameStop and various other corporate entities have really put these mom and pop game stores (where everybody knows your name) out of business. We gamers know the sad reality of the situation. But as luck would have it, the intrepid folks over at The Game Exchange don’t seem to have gotten the memo; they’re still going strong.

The first thing you see upon entering The Game Exchange is the extensive DVD section.

The store’s most common customers are actually hunting for DVDs, the lively young fellow named Anthony informed me. Anthony Arnold has been working at The Game Exchange for a year, and remembers the place’s earlier location in the Mountaineer Mall. After Walmart left the mall, so did The Game Exchange, ending up in its current location near U.S. Cellular in Sabraton, which looks something like this on a map.

Hey, the map worked today! Moving on.

I feel very confident in saying that The Game Exchange boasts the largest variety of gaming items in the area, from last-gen classics to current marvels, from NES games to DS games and everything in between. Dragon Age 2 sits near a counter full of Game Boys and their respective games. The store isn’t hard up for the latest and greatest titles.

Yet it is the selection of PS2, Xbox and Gamecube games that most impressed me. There are some truly fantastic games in the bunch, and I only wish I had time to re-enjoy some of these newer classics.


As I was talking to Anthony, a regular customer named Dave took notice and offered his two cents.

“Here, they really care about the games and they talk to you. It’s fun,” he says, with a few games in hand.

The Game Exchange is currently owned by Ryan Richards, who bought it from his brother Blaine Richards. Both brothers routinely work in the store here in Morgantown too, eschewing any notion of a hands-off approach.

“We’re in more contact with our customers because we don’t have as many employees. We’re a closer-knit family,” Anthony said, with a glimmer of pride. “We can work with you to get you what you want.”

Anthony searches for a game at a customer's behest

But Anthony was not the only denizen of The Game Exchange available for questioning. As it happens, there is another business within the game store. Nick Ely, friend of Ryan and Blaine Richards, came to an agreement with the Richards brothers.

Nick Ely in his natural habitat

He now runs N3RD Computer Services, a tech support / computer repair service for PCs and Macs (he’s Apple certified!), which is housed in The Game Exchange’s Morgantown shop. That said, Nick’s choice of location was more than mere pragmatism; he is also an avid gamer, preferring classics, but willing to give his heart to any worthy RPG that crosses his desk (we talked about Dragon Age for a while).

And truly near to my heart, the store has its own blog, with promotional info as well as brief game reviews, although these tend to fall into the “Wall of Text” category. As does Nick, with his all-too-appropriately named blog n3rdvana. Give the man credit where it’s due, he can work a theme.

So there you have it, Morgantown game fans. An honest to goodness well run, well stocked and well staffed local game store. They’re open 10 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday. Now go forth and patronize the store, for it is a local business which does not compromise gaming expediency in any way shape or form.

As I was leaving, Nick caught my attention and asked if I solely focused on video gaming. I hadn’t really thought about it, I said, and then he smiled. What did he suggest I cover?

qrcode

Links
The Game Exchange on Facebook
The Game Exchange Official Site
Nick’s n3rdvana Blog
The Game Exchange Blog

My blog (couldn’t resist)

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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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