Gaming for the people, by the people — that philosophy is on display almost instantly as you enter Jimmy and Nikki's Game Room at 206 W. Sixth St. in Newton. The store will be celebrating its grand opening on Sunday, Oct. 29, but has already been sparking a lot of interest after opening its doors a few weeks ago.
Owner Jimmy Myers admits he is not shy about crowdsourcing ideas, as he wants his business to be a destination hangout for all ages. Have an idea for how to improve the game room — which features a virtual reality set and a variety of consoles (Xbox, Playstation, etc.) at multiple stations — then Myers is all ears. Already, customer input has led to the construction of a de facto concession stand at the front of the store (offering coffee, rather than energy drinks, per request) and more inquiries have Myers looking to add outlets for card and tabletop gaming (i.e. Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.).
"I'm redoing the entire back room to have tables that fold down from the wall, that way they can do one-on-one competitions," Myers said, "and then a big table so they can all compete as one big group against each other if they want to."
All that Jimmy and Nikki's Game Room is offering started at the Myers' home in Peabody — where Jimmy admitted he already had most of the TVs and consoles you see in the Newton shop set up, making it a draw for neighborhood kids. Peabody youth activity centers like The Hub and Warrior Game Stop were also an inspiration, with Myers even volunteering his time (and his VR set) at the latter.
Myers also works at the Rent-A-Center in Newton, just down the street from the Newton Recreation Commission — where he said he noticed local kids congregating outside during the summer months. With a daily fee there and the Newton YMCA on the south side of town, Myers took on the mission to bring something more accessible to Newton youth — basically just needing a building to set up shop.
While there are $2 hourly fees (with daily and monthly rates also available) for access to the consoles at Jimmy and Nikki's game room in downtown Newton, other activities — like pool, air hockey and shuffle board — are free of charge, and encouraged to deter against marathon gaming sessions and the lack of movement associated with that.
Beyond that, though, Myers wanted to offer a place where kids (and even adults) could just hang out and be themselves — and he is happy to try and meet the various needs that may be presented. Want to bring the whole family in? Myers is on board, especially with some VR games tailored specifically to that. Keen on keeping your child away from violent titles while at the game room? He is also happy to honor parental restrictions — though he noted he can't put blinders on kids, and there is a likelihood those types of games will be in play while they are at the game room.
On top of the gaming, Myers said he is also looking to sell some of the excess titles in his personal comic collection at the game room — and may add more selection from Wichita vendors if there is an interest. Additionally, he wants to bring in individuals to make tutoring services available to customers and noted he is looking into adding software on some of the gaming PCs to offer the opportunity to learn a second language.
"It's all about getting people in here...because once you come here, I guarantee you will be back," Myers said. "Every customer I have is a repeat customer."
For the grand opening on Oct. 29, Myers said there will be a raffle for prizes and free game play sessions on the VR set — which normally costs between $1 and $5 depending on the game.
Still ironing out the wrinkles for the grand opening festivities, Myers said that no matter what he is committed to making Jimmy and Nikki's Game Room the best experience it can be for all customers. If he could make it free and an all-day establishment, he admitted he would, and said he also hopes to keep growing — potentially making room for the addition of miniature golf in the future.
"I wanted to provide something that people like, to provide a place for people to be themselves and to basically expand that possibility," Myers said, "to go from this building to a building twice this size."
Hours of operation for the current game room are from 6 to 11 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit the the game room's Facebook page.