The Esports Game Arena, a project of dedication
Although not on the road anymore, the European Esportscafé Roadtrip is not finished yet. My home country needs to be in here too, as well as Eden Esports in Leeds (UK). Having had a good night’s sleep in a bed instead of Cecillia, decent food for over 2 weeks and a proper shower, I had hoped I would have been more together during the interview. Unfortunately, I was the same messy person as I always am. Thomas Runhart, one of the owners of the Game Arena, is a very pleasant person though, and he didn’t seem to care.
This article is a bit different than the ones before, because the Esports Game Arena hasn’t opened yet. Unlike Black King Bar in Bratislava that was in the making too, but did have a former location and a regular customer base, this bar is a first in The Netherlands. It’s about passion and dedication in a conservative country where there’s a huge impasse between corporate life and esports.
Thomas, the initiator, is a maximum positive kind of guy. His motivation for starting an esportsbar is the same one all the people I talked to on the roadtrip have; love, passion and the ‘knowing’ it will work. He loved what he was doing in his free time, organizing offline Hearthstone tournaments, and became so successful he chose to set up a permanent location instead of touring the country.
With still a regular job (assistant air traffic controller), he formatted a team of 4 who all have their own expertise. There’s Marcel for strategy and partnership, Paul for technique, Thomas for events and Ward for media. He made a solid business plan and then got lucky. The town he lives in was looking for new innovating projects and the Esports Game Arena got partly subsidized. This has been a huge advantage in attracting business life. The problem in The Netherlands is that there’re no numbers to express Dutch success in the world of esports, which makes our national short sighted and conservative corporate life hesitant to jump in, even though they themselves acknowledge they desperately want to. This alone makes The Esports Game Arena something you will want to follow. Their success will open future doors for many.
The Esports Game Arena above all aims to connect people. Getting gamers out of their rooms to socialize and interact. This is the thing Thomas loves about esports. The (unexpected) friendships over a game, no matter what background a person has or what world he lives in. Gaming bounds. He wants to show this is not only happening online, but even more so offline.
To do this, there will be a lot of events, tournaments, game release party’s and competitions in games like (among others) Hearthstone, CS, Overwatch, Streetfighter and Smash Bros, but a fair amount of Indie games too. The location is open for meetings as well. There’s a meeting room that can be hired and games can be played afterwards.
There will be no entrance fee, nor will the use of equipment be charged. The major source of income will be provided by sponsorships, the bar (food&drinks), an entrance fee for tournaments and events and a subscription system where discounts are offered in certain stores and on consumptions at the bar. To secure the 500 m2 place there’s a camera system installed and ID’s are asked for and registered if you want to use the equipment. For some tournaments there will be an age restriction and as a consequence of being subsidized by the municipality, there will be extra emphasize on health issues like the use of alcohol and game addiction.
In the hour I’ve been talking to Thomas, I saw the same fire in his eyes I saw everywhere. There’s no doubt, only pure pleasure and joy. I can’t wait for the Esports Game Arena to open mid October and see that translated into action. As other bars throughout Europe, he would love to start some kind of inter-bar competition as well. For all of you reading this, get in touch or comment below. With Eden Esports soon to follow, we’ve established a beautiful circle of European Esportsbars that can work together and make things happen!
For the record: 3 out of the team of 4 have a university degree.