Let the Games Begin

March 22, 2013 |

Video games have grown up considerably since the heady days of dark, cramped arcades. Back then, colorful cabinets tempted one’s quarters by offering quick rounds of “Space Invaders” and “Donkey Kong”. Electronic entertainment is these days far more epic. With the advent of home consoles came new tech, and video games adjusted accordingly. Today’s “Mass Effect 3” is a far cry indeed from “Pong”.

Yet what of the social nature of the arcade? Although many modern games do feature online multiplayer capabilities, competing against others over the Internet is still essentially a solitary experience. Each player alone, holed up in his or her respective den clutching a controller and sending a carefully-crafted avatar into combat, hardly approximates the pleasantly unpredictable togetherness that gamers used to enjoy by gathering in their full geeky glory.

Enter Clinton Lee, 24, who along with business partners Bryant Nieuwenhuis and Clayton Abernathy is melding today’s over-the-top plethora of gaming options with the open-door arcade sensibility of yore. Their three-month-old venture at 1927 E. Grant Rd. is already becoming a hub for gamers hungry to interact in person as well as within the digital realms.

Skinny Fingers Gaming Center opened on New Years Eve with a free event, says Lee. “We had a little party,” featuring a costume contest, prizes and gratis gaming on the PS3s, Xbox 360s and Wiis which fill the approximately 3000 square feet of space (formerly occupied by Starr Skates) across the street from Bookmans Entertainment Exchange. No less than thirty computers are also available here in this gaming mecca, and Lee enthusiastically shows off the labyrinthian 2000 feet of cable feeding into SFGC’s server. With “the highest-quality Internet possible” running through their own network, one can be confident any gaming session here will be uninterrupted by technical hiccups. Parents shall be pleased to know that Skinny Fingers also boasts “security features” which control access to M-rated games. These quality assurance aspects have helped Skinny Fingers attract gamers from e-clubs at Catalina High School, the University of Arizona and elsewhere.

Become a member for $25/month at SFGC, and enjoy affordable prices for 1-hour, 3-hour and all day passes. An intriguing concept of “competitive play” even exists among members, by which the leaders in a points bracket ranking system earn discounts on their gaming time. SFGC members also get one free day of game play a month, and half off all tournament entry fees. Skinny Fingers’ library of games includes older favorites and the latest releases. Game on!

Skinny Fingers hosts a 5v5 League of Legends tournament on Friday, April 5; throw your hat into the ring for $15/pre-registration or $20/door. As “the world’s most played video game,” this popular MMO (massively multiplayer online) battle arena currently boasts 12 million players globally each day, so competition may be fierce. If Lee and company are able to organize twenty teams, the top prize will exceed $700. The real winners, of course, will be the players who Lee refers to as family. “Making friends,” he says, is the real goal. Along those lines SFGC supports the anti-bullying efforts of Rize Up Gaming, a nonprofit working to dissuade hatred, discrimination and prejudice among the gaming community.

Skinny Fingers Gaming Center is open Mon.-Thurs. 11am-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 12pm-2am and Sun. 12pm-10pm. Wednesday is “Ladies Night,” so girls play free. While in the neighborhood, try Upper Crust Pizza or Karuna’s Thai Plate next door! Need more information? Find it online at SkinnyFingers.com and RizeUpGaming.com.

Category: Business, Community