PUNXSUTAWNEY – Mode 7 Gaming Center is a new arcade experience unique to Punxsutawney, combining retro arcade games with new PC games in an all-in-one location for maximum gaming enjoyment.
Owner Thom Pratt said he was trying to recreate the fun and social atmosphere of an arcade, while appealing to the new style of video games kids are playing today. The main thing he thinks video games are missing today is the social aspect kids used to have by going to an arcade and meeting like-minded people.
The game center offers several retro-style video game machines, but a seemingly endless list of games to choose from loaded on the custom machines. Pratt had all of his retro machines custom built to house thousands of games on a single machine.
“Each of these machines are actually custom built for us and they’re themed, so we have a fighting game machine…the shooting games, we have a Pac-Man machine that has all the retro games, there is our Japanese machine game. They’re all themed and each machine has thousands of games,” Pratt said. “It doesn’t look like we have a ton of machines here, but you realize that there are actually tens of thousands of arcade games.”
He said these machines help them maximize the space they have and are better because true retro machines can be difficult to find and maintain. It also allows it to “have the most games with the least footprint.”
In addition to the retro-style machines, it also has eight gaming PCs along the walls of the arcade for single or multiplayer games. It loaded PCs with some of the most popular games like “Fall Guys”, “Fortnite”, “League of Legends”, “Rocket League”, etc.
“We’re going to be adding PC games all the time, we’re just getting started,” Pratt said. “If you can’t find something to play here, you probably don’t like video games.”
Pratt has also made sure he has the fastest internet in town so he can play all those games. He was happy to see a group of IUP students come in and play “Fortnite” together since opening last week.
“You want to have a sort of modern spin on gaming because we understand that not everyone is going to be into retro gaming. But PC gaming right now is huge, and originally, when we have it talked about, we were doing an eSports hub, and then we started bringing in 80s retro and putting the two together. And we basically have everything from ‘Asteroids’ to ‘Fortnite’ at this point,” Pratt said.
Pratt said players must already have an existing account with the games to play them. He hopes groups of friends will come to the arcade to play PC games together, but he has a few on the side for solo players.
The other unique aspect of the arcade is that Pratt offers all-you-can-eat play for one price. No more pockets full of quarters, because there is a single price for the day of around $12 and players can play any game in the arcade for the day.
He plans to eventually have monthly subscriptions for the arcade, similar to a gym membership. Pratt said he is working out how to do this, and the first few months will only have daily prizes.
There will also be console games available, primarily focused on multiplayer games. Right now, Pratt has installed a Nintendo Switch and said people mostly come to play “Mario Cart” and “Super Smash Bros” on it.
“I mean ideally what we think is people come in, they actually meet people. “Hey, can I grab a chair and we can play Smash Bros or something?” said Pratt.
He also hopes to add a Playstation 5 to his consoles.
“I have two teenagers and they have nothing to do. It got me thinking about my teenage years. We were always going to arcades and malls, and I talked a lot with my son about ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we had a arcade or a game center or something here?’ “Said Pratt.
He thought about the idea of an arcade for about two years, and in January decided to go for it.
“The reason we did this is because we want people to play as a community… When I was a kid, we would go to the arcade, we would hang out, people would gather around the machine. The big thing – we were playing “Street Fighter” or “Mortal Kombat” and everyone was gathering around the machine, watching everyone play. It was a community event and people, I think they lost that because everyone is home,” Pratt said.
The first thing he bought for the arcade was an air hockey table, which sits at the back of the arcade. There is also a pinball game at the front of the building, which is virtual, allowing the player to choose a new pinball board each time they play.
The center is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 109 North Findley St. The center can be found on Facebook under Mode 7 Gaming.