For the love of gaming

New business to offer life-size social video game experience

Written by Kristin Baker | Photography by David D. Wallace Jr

The gamer opens a door and enters the video game. Yes, that’s right, he walks right in. He locates his mech—or for those non-gamers out there, robot—and runs across the game space.

In his hands, he holds a large Android controller. As he punches buttons instructing his mech to shoot flames at a friend’s enemy mech, he directs it to dodge crashed vehicles and navigate streets being projected across the floor in the room’s virtual city.

The gamers’ nine best friends surround him, shouting and laughing and giving each other a hard time. It’s interactive, social gaming at the largest level; think laser tag meets Xbox.

Fireshark Gaming, owned by Augusta residents Kent and Shannon Johnson, is slated to open in March at 11310 E. 21st St., Suite E, on the northeast corner of 21st and Greenwich. Fireshark will debut the game Kent designed for the facility, “Mech Mayhem.”

“We started brainstorming over, what is a premium or out-of-this-world gaming experience?” Kent Johnson said. “There wasn’t much else you could experience even with best gaming system. We thought of how we could make it bigger and better.”

And the result was Fireshark Gaming. The couple plans to launch new games frequently, and Kent is in the midst of designing the business’ second game, a racing game.

Kent, an electrical engineer by degree, started playing video games years ago to spend time with his sons, Caleb, 18; Coby, 14; and Cole, 10. The boys have been in on every step of developing the business, from critiquing the game itself to helping set up projectors and do construction in the sample gaming area they created in a machine shed at the family’s home.

The finished game has gleaned positive results from test groups, which have ranged in age from 8-year- olds to adults. From the scoreboard and cityscape on the walls to the authentic sound effects players hear when their mechs encounter obstacles or utilize weapons, the Johnsons have gone to great lengths to make visiting Fireshark an experience.

Players will arrive at the new business and be directed to a staging area, where they will learn to use the controllers and select a mech out of seven possibilities. Every 30 minutes, a new gaming experience will begin, and players will compete with one another in one of two modes, either to kill one another or to work in teams to capture a flag.

“It’s just a big, fun, social gaming experience,” Kent Johnson said. “When you destroy someone else in the room, you can see their facial expression. It’s fun to interact with your friends as you’re playing.” The business will have two gaming rooms and a party space, and its website will offer online scheduling for groups. For $7 to $11, players can try a video game platform so new that the Johnsons aren’t aware of anywhere else this experience is being offered. They look forward to its March opening so they can work out any kinks and expand to a second location in Wichita and beyond.

“If you’re going to dream,” Kent Johnson said, “you might as well dream big.”

Fireshark Gaming will begin hiring workers this month. To receive updates about the opening, visit firesharkgaming.com.

By the numbers

Kent Johnson loves his new gaming platform so much, he has contributed:
• 14 months of full-time work to
• 37 million pixels being displayed on
• 19,200 square inches of monitor space in virtual space being lit by
• 18 projectors for a game meant for up to
• 10 players in 1 room

 
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