New game shop PLAYlive Nation opens in Moscow

Owner Brandon Doctor talks about his gaming lounge Sunday. The lounge is illuminated by gaming consoles, TVs and colored mood-setting lights.

JACOB MOORE, Former Evergreen sports editor

PLAYlive Nation in the Palouse Mall opened its doors to the public after the conclusion of the spring semesters at UI and WSU. Despite the lack of college students, owner and operator Brandon Doctor said business is booming.

CEO Duncan Wood replicated this franchise after seeing the success of his creation in western Washington, Doctor said. The end goal, as Wood often describes, is to become the “YMCA of the gaming industry.”

There are 28 stations already paid for in the Moscow franchise, 26 of which have a 40-inch TVs while the other two stations have projectors — one 76-inches and the other 84-inches, Doctor said. Each station is accompanied by a couch, Xbox One and Xbox Live Gold account.

LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen
Multiple stations are pictured above with each having a couch, TV and Xbox for individuals.

The dimly-lit, modern arcade also has multiple large tables for visitors interested in cards or board games. Instead of travelling to Pullman’s Palouse Games, PLAYlive Nation is more convenient and local for Moscow residents, Doctor said.

“Just listening to it, [skeptics] underestimate it,” Doctor said. “They think ‘whatever, it’s just video games. I have an Xbox at my house, why would I go pay to play?’ ”

Doctor answered his own question: Customers keep coming back for the experience that involves a high-energy staff, good music and an overall good atmosphere, he said.

The staff-customer relationship was especially pertinent in Doctor’s answer. It’s not uncommon to see a packed shop on a hot, summer day. This is an effect of the staff’s experience and openness, he said.

“[Repeat customers] come in just to speak to certain staff members about certain card games,” Doctor said. “We’re building a community.”

The staff also tends to get involved with their customers. Doctor mentioned that if someone comes in with their buddy, he’ll go up to them and challenge them in a game.

The target audience was expected to be children. For the most part, this has been true. But, there has been at least one surprise.

“We have had up to 70-plus [year olds] here playing games,” Doctor said. “I admit, I kind of thought ‘Oh, for your children, grandkids,’ and he was like ‘No, I’m here to play myself.’ ”

As a recreational gaming shop, PLAYlive Nation is attracting a specific niche in gamers, and it doesn’t matter how old they are.

LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen
PLAYlive Nation features nearly 30 Xbox Ones. All of which have Xbox Live Gold accounts.

“Not everyone is the most athletic person, not everyone likes going outside,” Doctor said. “There’s a bunch of places for people to go and congregate. There’s parks, and sports people have their place, but this is a place for gamers.”

Gamers who enjoy cards, board games or video games can call this place home, Doctor said. This growing franchise looks to cement themselves as a home in the Palouse Mall for years to come.

“We were number 30 to open in the nation,” Doctor said, “and we’re on track to have about 200 open nation-wide in the next couple years.”