Once-lers Anonymous

“It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

TradeWind Games rallies area gaming community

on December 3, 2011

Justin Kelsey, 30, commands his troop of 25 gamers with a booming voice and a clipboard. “You have a few seconds to adjust your controls. No one moves until I say move,” he orders.

He assigns a gamer to each of the seven flat-screen TV and Xbox 360 stations set up in the middle of the “Bunker,” the video game tournament room at TradeWind Games. At 8:00 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 19, 25 players are eagerly awaiting their turn to play in the business’s third free tournament, this time a free-for-all on the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. More players trickle in as the first 10 minute round continues. The top three players from each will be allowed to continue and play for the top prize, a brand new copy of the game, or equivalent store credit.

Kelsey patrols the room, keeping an eye on the gamers about to play and talking with others he remembers from previous tournaments. As the round begins, the chatter drops to a murmur, pierced by cries of outrage from the participants.

“Oh, come on, really?”A  marine yells. “I’ve been killed by my own care package!”

Another player shouts in alarm as his controller warns him his batteries are about to die. Kelsey rushes across the room, pulling a pack of AA batteries from his pocket.

Groans and cheers fill the room as the round ends. The final kill is replayed on all the screens in slow motion and the final scores are revealed.

After a year of planning, Kelsey opened TradeWind Games at 2335 N. College Ave. with his younger brother Brian Kelsey Oct. 22.

Like many other stores, they sell used movies, video games and video game systems, from Atari and the original Nintendo Entertainment System games to computer and Xbox 360 games. The glass cases forming the counter house a few brand new copies of recent releases, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a mix of gaming accessories and game cartridges for the early video game systems that have outlived their packaging.

However, what sets them apart from their competition doesn’t come from the products on their shelves.

“Really, I just thought we could do better,” said Brian Kelsey, 24, who worked at the Game X Change on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard for two years. Other stores have the attitude that they don’t have to try because they sell products people want, he said.

“We have an intangible product,” Justin Kelsey said, “[the idea] of having a store that treats their customers well and provides products that people want and services that people desire.

Justin and Brian Kelsey grew up in Mena, a small town more than 100 miles south of Fayetteville.

Brian Kelsey has memories of playing Donkey Kong on Atari at the age of four, and playing video games on the original PlayStation throughout his childhood.

“I remember when we first got [Resident Evil for PlayStation 1] we played it all night long,” said Brian Kelsey, who was around 10 at the time. “It’s one of those games where if you played it in the dark it kept you on edge. …It was probably the first game I played where I was legitimately frightened by the game.”

Justin Kelsey remembers being in the sixth grade, staying up all night at his friends’ homes, playing any of the Mario games and the Simpsons.

“For me, gaming is a very social kind of thing,” he said. “It compounds the amount of fun you have by the number of people there.”

Brian Kelsey wasn’t looking to start a business. “Not in a million years,” he said. “We talked about it for several months before we decided, we can do this.”

After completing two years of general studies at a community college, he came to Fayetteville for more opportunities and to help with his brother’s rental properties.

Justin Kelsey, who is in the process of completing his bachelor’s degree in business administration, has always wanted to open a business, but hadn’t considered opening a store location before they began working on TradeWind Games.

Business is going even better than expected, although they have only been open for a little more than a month, Justin Kelsey said. “It’s easy to get your hopes up.”

More than just trying to build a strong business, the Kelsey brothers are trying to build a community of gamers.

“We really want people to have fun being here compared to a typical game store,” Brian Kelsey said.

The initial popularity of the tournaments was unexpected, Justin Kelsey said. Players have driven from as far as Siloam Springs to play in the tournaments, each featuring a different game, and are usually held every other Saturday. He was also surprised at the positive interactions they have been able to have with their customers through Facebook.

Chris Upton, 15, was excited when he found out that TradeWind Games was opening next to his dad’s store, C & E Lock & Safe, Inc.

“The prices are good. I like their tournaments,” he said. Upton has been playing video games since he was five. He likes how games allow you to do things you couldn’t, or shouldn’t, do in real life. A competitive player, he likes how their tournaments allow him to see the other players’ reactions in person.

Friends told Hunter Wentz, 19, about TradeWind Games and the tournaments. He drove from Springdale to participate in the Modern Warfare 3 tournament. “I like that it’s locally owned,” he said. “I never felt that some of the other places were as personable, the employees weren’t as happy to be there.” He plans to buy his games from TradeWind from now on.

Wentz has played in Major League Gaming tournaments with higher stakes before, finishing in the top 12 in three bracketed tournaments, but those tournaments were played online. Before the Bunker, there wasn’t a LAN center in the area that allowed gamers to play Xbox 360 or other systems together in one location, Wentz said.

In each tournament, one player is assigned to each TV and plays using default settings. No entry fee is charged, and winner receives prizes ranging from store credit to new copies of recent releases. Games are usually played following close to Major League Gaming rules, which vary from game to game, Brian Kelsey said.

Players are asked to stay below a certain level of noise, so they don’t interfere with other players’ experiences., and to keep their language clean for a family friendly atmosphere that everyone can enjoy, he said. “First and foremost we want players to have fun.”

Participants sign a form to play, agreeing to a certain standard of behavior. Parents also have to sign a release form for their children to join in on the games.

In the future, they plan to develop a monthly membership program. Members would be able to utilize the Bunker to play any game in the store any time, allowing them to preview games before they buy them.

The Bunker will also be enhanced to include more video game systems, and additional TVs. Purchasing larger TVs would allow more than one person to use each console. Most people don’t enjoy playing with a split screen on a 20 inch TV, Brian Kelsey said.

Groups will be able to rent the Bunker for private events, and several student groups from the University of Arkansas have already set up events at TradeWind.

Once the tournaments steadily attract 50 players each, they would like to set up series tournaments. These tournaments would have entry fees as well as a points system rewarding players for participating as well as placing and would take place over the course of several months, he said.

Eventually they plan to open new locations in the northwest Arkansas region, Justin Kelsey said. Because of the nature of their business, neither one of them is worried about the economy.

“The entertainment industry in general thrives, even in harsh economic times,” Brian Kelsey said.

As the rounds of the tournaments progress, most of the players stay and watch. They comment amongst themselves, arguing about different aspects of gaming strategy or plausibility.

An awed silence falls over the crowd as the final two contestants, Wentz and a younger teenage boy, face off.

“Oh, that was a good kill!” Wentz compliments him after being caught by surprise. His friends laugh as the match continues, and he begins to get nervous. “This kid is scaring me. …I feel like the volume got turned up, my heart is pounding.”

The crowd remains tense until the round ends and the final kill plays, Wentz has won. He and the boy smile as they shake hands, and complement each other on the game. Wentz’s relief is evident.

“The way I feel about it, anyone, regardless of skill, can win in gaming. It’s whoever is having fun,” Brian Kelsey said.

Advertisements

One response to “TradeWind Games rallies area gaming community

  1. bretschulte says:

    the lede is far too long for a story of this length and that buries your nut graf to the point where readers will give up on the story because they do not know what it is about and why they should care.

    is this dude the owner? We should know in the first few grafs:
    –Justin Kelsey, 30, commands his troop of 25 gamers with a booming voice and a clipboard. “You have a few seconds to adjust your controls. No one moves until I say move,” he orders.

    Too many numbers make for an ugly sentence:
    — At 8:00 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 19, 25 players are eagerly awaiting their turn to play in the business’s third free tournament, this time a free-for-all on the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

    Need to cut a lot of this detail, or save it for later. Get to the nut graf:
    —More players trickle in as the first 10 minute round continues. The top three players from each will be allowed to continue and play for the top prize, a brand new copy of the game, or equivalent store credit.

    Kelsey patrols the room, keeping an eye on the gamers about to play and talking with others he remembers from previous tournaments. As the round begins, the chatter drops to a murmur, pierced by cries of outrage from the participants.

    In the context of this story calling him a marine is only confusing. At first glance, i thought it was a reference to the game.
    –“Oh, come on, really?”A marine yells. “I’ve been killed by my own care package!”

    We need this?
    –Another player shouts in alarm as his controller warns him his batteries are about to die. Kelsey rushes across the room, pulling a pack of AA batteries from his pocket.

    This info can also wait. We need to know, instead, why we should care about this store, the angle of your story, the theme, etc.
    –After a year of planning, Kelsey opened TradeWind Games at 2335 N. College Ave. with his younger brother Brian Kelsey Oct. 22.

    this is a dangling modifier:
    –Like many other stores, they sell used movies, video games and video game systems, from Atari and the original Nintendo Entertainment System games to computer and Xbox 360 games.

    more details that can wait or be built into the narrative.Such as, “He lords over a glass stuffed with…” Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the theme/angle:
    –Like many other stores, they sell used movies, video games and video game systems, from Atari and the original Nintendo Entertainment System games to computer and Xbox 360 games. The glass cases forming the counter house a few brand new copies of recent releases, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a mix of gaming accessories and game cartridges for the early video game systems that have outlived their packaging.

    Move this up higher, and re-phrase the nut so it’s tighter and cleaner.
    –However, what sets them apart from their competition doesn’t come from the products on their shelves.

    “Really, I just thought we could do better,” said Brian Kelsey, 24, who worked at the Game X Change on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard for two years. Other stores have the attitude that they don’t have to try because they sell products people want, he said.

    good quote:
    “We have an intangible product,” Justin Kelsey said, “[the idea] of having a store that treats their customers well and provides products that people want and services that people desire.

    Age of Brian Kelsey?

    You’ve got a singular subject and plural subject in same sentence:
    –He was also surprised at the positive interactions they have been able to have with their customers through Facebook.

    huh?
    –LAN center

    too much minutiae. Keep us on the theme of how this store is really going to be different from others and how it’s succeeding or failing thus far:
    –n each tournament, one player is assigned to each TV and plays using default settings. No entry fee is charged, and winner receives prizes ranging from store credit to new copies of recent releases. Games are usually played following close to Major League Gaming rules, which vary from game to game, Brian Kelsey said.

    Players are asked to stay below a certain level of noise, so they don’t interfere with other players’ experiences., and to keep their language clean for a family friendly atmosphere that everyone can enjoy, he said. “First and foremost we want players to have fun.”

    Participants sign a form to play, agreeing to a certain standard of behavior. Parents also have to sign a release form for their children to join in on the games.

    What are sales like thus far? we need more proof of this strategy working or failing, and we need to hear from competitors and learn if they have similar things. We also need a graf that just lays out the various things this store does that are different. Now, the focus is too heavy on this one particular tournament.

    tell us odds of new businesses making it. i know there are numbers out there. Get quote on how they plan to beat those odds. Does the store see its primary revenue coming from game sales or tournament commissions or what?

    You’ve got work to do, which includes a major restructuring of the story. I look forward to reading your final story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: