Across the University of Nairobi main campus on University way is the Kampus mall. A commercial building that would otherwise not interest a student unless Architecture is your major. But Gamer Zone entertainment – on the 1st floor – is fast becoming the ultimate hang-out joint for both amateur and addicted gamers. The energy, adrenaline and sweat is palpable from the lobby on the ground floor.
Gamer Zone and many such joints are sprouting in and off-campus, attracting a considerable number of mainly male-students and in the process, drawing them away from clubs and bars.
“Am really on cloud nine to see that some students have deviated from drinking by coming here to socialize and play video games, “says David, proprietor of Gamer Zone.
UoN students that are not carried away by weekend drinking binges have found a viable alternative in the form of video games at Gamer Zone and at Sh2 per minute, it is an affordable alternative entertainment activity.
It is interesting to see gamers so engrossed in the games as they cringe, twist and turn, celebrate and curse as they control the FIFA playstation players to surgical precision. Meanwhile, the waiting lounge is packed with more gamers waiting for their turn to get hold of the pads. The office-space turned mini-arcade has the interior to match the activities. Beautifully created murals and graffiti adorn the walls as gamers compete against each other.
What makes the premises a cool hang out joint? Well, the aura provided by the place is definitely a crowd puller for one. David’s joint is also equipped with large high definition TV screens, play stations and comfortable couches coupled with a movie section and a well stocked snack bar. The atmosphere plus the friendly gestures of the proprietor keeps one coming back. David and his staff are kept busy throughout the week with an average of 150 students visiting the gaming hub.
Lydia, a student at UoN, occasionally accompanies her boyfriend to the Gamer Zone. She says she is happy to see her boyfriend not drinking on weekends because, “It (drinking) was putting a strain on our relationship”.
To the gamers, the zone is a positive way to enjoy oneself instead of wasting one’s finances by indulging in alcohol.
“I usually come here on weekends to release tension and have a good time with friends. In the process avoiding bad crowds and peer groups,” said Mike, a regular client at gamer zone.
Although the business provides an alternative means of enjoyment, some students are skipping classes to play “just two games”.