At the peak of holiday season 2016, one of the United States’ largest shopping malls opted for a new kind of tourist attraction. Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, replaced the traditional lone-standing arcade game or low thrill ride with a one of a kind gaming centre.
Known as the ESC Gaming Theater, the 750ft room includes a roof-high cinema screen, a live emcee, concert grade surround sound, pulsing lights and 30 touch screens for an immersive multi-player gaming experience.
Designed to bring together friends and strangers alike, this ESC Game Theater offers solo or team play games for up to 30 players at a time. A series of about a dozen games on offer span approximately five to seven minutes and can be either collaborative or competitive, depending on the crowd. With the emcee providing an energetic string of live tips and running commentaries, the entire activity becomes somewhat of a sporting event. Live tournaments are even held periodically for prizes.
The fun is all laced into a strategy to reimagine the future of shopping malls as technology continues to rapidly expand. At a time where shoppers are not only increasingly moving online and to mobile to carry out both research and purchase, but seeking experiences over merely material items, brick and mortar venues need to reinvent the wheel to encourage consumers in and maintain them for as long as possible. Gaming and entertainment is a big driver.
Charley Delana, Westfield’s EVP of global brand ventures, said: “Westfield is committed to redefining the shopping experience by leveraging the latest in technology and digital entertainment innovation. We are thrilled to welcome ESC Games to Westfield Garden State Plaza and we are looking forward to giving shoppers the chance to be among the first in the world to experience the future of gaming and entertainment.”
Capitalising on a projected 18% annual growth in the video game industry in the year to come, ESC Games CEO Todd Swidler has thought about massive expansions both in the US and internationally. “The video game industry is experiencing explosive growth, and we see major opportunities for ESC Games to pioneer a new category that taps into that demand through our unique game experience and competitive tournaments. The possibilities are vast.”
The concept for this mall initiative was incubated by ESI Design. Founder Edwin Schlossberg is an innovator of all things game-design; he entered the scene back in the 1970s when his best-selling book series taught consumers how to play games on their run of the mill pocket calculators. Once again, he gives a technology facelift to a quasi-antiquated model.