Gaming centres 1LevelUp and Twitch offer high-spec machines
Glasgow and Edinburgh centres blast loner stereotype
There’s a tired stereotype that gamers are loners, locked in their bedrooms hunched over their consoles or PCs desperately trying to beat their high scores. However, gaming centres, such as the recently opened 1LevelUp in Glasgow and Twitch in Edinburgh, prove there is a thriving, vibrant gaming community in Scotland.
For the uninitiated, gaming centres offer a bank of high end PCs (and a few consoles) for playing online but mainly for groups of mates to get together for a communal session. Unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft is massively popular but it’s first person shooters such as Medal of Honour, Call of Duty and Team Fortress that really lend themselves to the shared experience. They’re hugely popular across the rest of the world particularly in Asia, Scandinavia and southern Europe but it looks like the UK is catching up on the joy of large-scale communal gaming, with all-night sessions and tournaments.
‘The competitive side of gaming is a big part of it but we like to think we also cater for the casual and serious gamer,’ explains Ewan McMahon, owner of Twitch. ‘The bulk are between 17-25 but we had a guy in who must have been in his 60s playing Black Ops and he was very good.’
‘I think it’s generational, with the Xbox and PlayStation now not being able to play games to a socially acceptable level is almost a hindrance,’ adds McMahon. ‘It’s being taken more seriously in that a much larger slice of the population take part, from a web browser game in your lunch break to spending hours on WoW.’
While most of these games can be played online, gaming centres offer a community experience which you can’t recreate at home. ‘I built it around a community to bring gamers together,’ says Kenny Chung, owner of Glasgow’s 1LevelUp. ‘I’ve seen guys come in on their own and they walk out at the end of the day and they’ve formed new friendships. You see it constantly in places like this, it brings like minded people together.’
‘For me it’s the social aspect of it, actually getting to play with people,’ explains regular Twitch customer Iain Livingston (who has also been involved in the store’s marketing). ‘When you play online you are playing with people but it’s just not the same, you’re removed from it, there’s not the same sense of community, people are friendlier when you play face-to-face, as people can let the anonymity go to their heads and do and say things they wouldn’t normally do.’
Basically these centres celebrate the joy of gaming. ‘I want to get everyone playing everything,’ says McMahon, ‘I was talking to Kenny about maybe setting up an Edinburgh vs Glasgow event I think that’d be a lot of fun.’ Bring it on.
1LevelUp, 34 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, 0141 221 3337, www.1levelup.com;
Twitch Gaming, 127-129 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, 0131 662 4405, www.twitch-gaming.com