Biz Beat

Drop kids off on an alien planet at Modesto’s new gaming center, complete with VR room

See the VR room and more at Modesto’s newest gaming center

The Gaming Hub in Modesto, CA opened in June. The video gaming lounge offers Xbox, Playstation, PC and virtual reality gaming. The VR room features the Oculus Rift gaming system.
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The Gaming Hub in Modesto, CA opened in June. The video gaming lounge offers Xbox, Playstation, PC and virtual reality gaming. The VR room features the Oculus Rift gaming system.

Ever wanted to try flying a plane? Or slaying a gladiator? Or taking a space walk?

Well now you can do all these things, and more, from the comfort of a private virtual reality room in Modesto’s newest video gaming center, The Gaming Hub. The Ninth Street business, between Tully Road and Campus Way, debuted last month just in time to catch the summer vacation crowd.

Opened by Modesto native and father of four avid video gamers Alex Gutierrez, the center offers PC, console and VR gaming at reasonable prices. Gutierrez and his wife, who is completing a computer science degree at California State University, Stanislaus, started the business in part because of their family’s love of gaming.

The longtime E.&J. Gallo employee spent more than a decade with the company often working the graveyard shift. But then he decided to cash in his 401K and use the money to start the gaming business. The Gaming Hub, next door to Moore’s Karate, offers gamers three rooms to choose from: the front console gaming area, the back PC room and a smaller virtual reality room.

The decor is a bit like a gamer’s dream college dorm room with big comfortable easy chairs, tons of flat-screen TVs and the latest video games at your fingertips. But serious hardware is lurking beneath. The Gaming Hub has 10 Xbox stations, eight Playstation stations, two Nintendo Switch stations and 13 PC stations.

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Owner Alex Gutierrez at The Gaming Hub in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

Gutierrez built all of the PCs himself, and the towers have brightly colored LED lights and lighted keyboards to add pizzazz. The virtual reality room is equipped with Oculus Rift, the popular Facebook-owned VR gaming system. Players can choose from VR titles like Beat Saber (sort of like full-body Guitar Hero) and Gorn (a gladiator simulator).

And while I personally might think VR games are the universe’s way of having a good laugh at our expense (like, sure, strap these enormous goggles to your head and wave your arms around wildly at nothing while other people point and watch), I can certainly see their appeal. They also provide some additional aerobic exercise, for parents worried about their kids turning into total couch potatoes.

Pricing is simple at The Gaming Hub. For any of the PC or console stations, it’s $5 an hour during the weekdays, $6 an hour on weekends. Day passes run $20 for six hours on weekdays and $25 weekends. The center also sells snacks like chips and soda to keep gamers fueled up and ready to go.

The virtual reality room is a flat $10 per half hour fee, and you can bring as many people as you want into your session. There is only one headset, so you’ll have to share but don’t worry, your buddies will be fully entertained, too, while you flail your arms around.

The space is open to all ages, but youth must be 12 or older to be dropped off without an adult guardian. Look around and you’ll find screens filled with folks playing Fortnite (an online multiplayer battle game) or League of Legends (the world’s most popular PC multiplayer game).

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Lily Lopez, 10 plays a multi-player game at The Gaming Hub in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

So what’s the appeal of coming to a gaming center like this — and similar gaming lounges that opened in Modesto in recent years like PLAYlive Nation at Vintage Faire Mall and Power Up Gaming at Yosemite Lanes — instead of playing alone at home?

“You can bring your friends and actually high five them during the game,” Gutierrez said. “It brings it back to the more social days of playing.”

The center also has weekly “Lock In” nights, where for $20 gamers can stay from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and play as long as they want — because who needs sleep? Parental permission is needed for players under 18; the next all-nighter is this Saturday.

For the players themselves, like 11-year-old Jacob Schaffer, the gaming center gives them a chance to try new things.

“I like that it’s so interactive,” said Schaffer, who came with his 6-year-old brother Mason to play in the VR room. “This place has everything. VR, PC games, Xboxes, Playstations.”

The Gaming Hub, at 142 N 9th St., is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 209-596-4940 or visit modestogaming.com.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Need a car, but don’t want to leave the couch?

Carvana, a web-based used car seller, has entered the Modesto market with its signature to-your-door service. In April the online company — which sells, buys and fiances used cars — expanded to the Modesto, Stockton and Vallejo region.

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A car is shipped to its seller using Carvana, an online used car service. Marijke Rowland John Chapa

Founded in 2012, Carvana.com has more than 15,000 vehicles for shoppers to choose from. Once purchased, the car is then shipped directly to you and dropped off in your driveway. Delivery, which is all handled individually with a single-car hauler, can take as little as a day or up to one week.

Instead of the traditional test drive, Carvana gives buyers a seven-day return window to test out their new ride at home. For more information visit www.carvana.com.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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