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Gaming meet restaurant

July 27, 2005

Nolan Bushnell, the father of video gaming and the founder of both Atari and Chuck-E-Cheese is looking again to merge his two passions of gaming and food into a single concept. Bushnell’s idea is to have powerful media servers relaying games to table top displays.

Although, Influx wrote about the potential of this idea a while back, our belief was that the concept should revolve around well-recognized and established console gaming platforms. In essence, a physical “third place” for people who already love console gaming. We imagined Sony extending its Playstation brand into these type of environments.

Bushnell’s idea is different. In some ways it seems to hark back to the old days of simple, but fun video games, not the state of the art console experience, that most true gamers today know.

Like everything, success is all in the execution. Restaurants have to lead with food quality, that’s why Nolan hired a former California Pizza Kitchen executive to take care of that.

Location is also going to be critical and what games are we talking about?

Bushnell mentions that he is going after people in their twenties. So are the games that encourage interaction between strangers or games that friends play while dining?

There are lots of potentially conflicting elements; one huge barrier is the “nerdish” aspect that still exists for gaming within a mixed social context. Simply put, the two things don’t really mix.

Can smart marketing and execution over-come that? The temptation might be to over-emphasize the gaming aspect, when perhaps this is something that should be discovered by the users, rather than being marketed as the main reason to visit.

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