Taking video games to the next level

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By Paul Mancini

Aspiring Ryerson entrepreneurs were treated to a speech last week by Steve Warsh, one of the visionaries behind Playdium Entertainment Corp., the company that invented the suburban entertainment landmark Playdium.

As part of a series of lectures, Warsh shared his experience with students eager to hear how one of Canada’s more successful entrepreneurs changed the arcade industry.

The premise behind Playdium is simple. Take an arcade, make it really big, clean off the layer of dirt that normally covers an arcade floor, set up some flashy lights and loud music and, finally, add some enthusiastic employees to help you find your way around.

Of course, once people start coming to the arcade, you will want them to stay. So add a nightclub, a place to eat, and maybe a rock climbing wall or go-carts as well. It’s a recipe for a successful entrepreneurial venture.

Opening in 1996 amidst media fanfare, Playdium has carved itself a neat little niche in an industry dominated by “mom and pop” arcades. With its upscale atmosphere and courteous staff, Playdium has brought arcade games to a whole new audience: the “casual gamer,” a term used to describe 80 per cent of Playdium’s patronage who otherwise never visit arcades. Later this year, the firm’s sixth Playdium outlet, Playdium at Festival Hall, will be opening downtown.

The series of lectures, hosted by the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs Ryerson, continues Mar. 4 in room B105 of the Business Building, with Erwin Tumangday of Random Media Core.

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