NORWALK, Conn. — Brent Goren grew up in an age without home computers, online multiplayer games or Angry Birds. When he wanted to play a video game, he would often head to an arcade.
Times have changed. Many gamers play computer games at home with other players through the Internet. But Goren’s new gaming center in Norwalk — a modern-day arcade — provides a way for gamers to meet others in real life.
“When you walked in through that door, you’re a gamer,” Goren said, who said that gaming is in his DNA. “Everyone here has that initial bond.”
His new gaming center, Game Haven, was abuzz with young gamers Wednesday evening. The 1,700-square-foot gaming room contains rows of tables topped with bright flat-panel television screens.
The room is home to 43 gaming stations, including 16 computers and 20 gaming consoles. A mural runs the length of a wall, depicting comic book heroes and characters from popular games.
Most everyone from Spider-Man to an Angry Bird is included in the mural. Steve from Minecraft is even wearing a Game Haven T-shirt, Goren pointed out.
Below the murals, gamers make new friends. They also seek out Goren — one wanted to change his gamer name, for example — who makes them feel at home.
He knows most everyone by their name — and more.
“Not only do I know them, but I know their gaming tags,” he said.
The center is also a cost-effective way for children to enjoy games. Parents don’t have to purchase a game only to have their child become bored with it.
While Game Haven is about the games, it’s about education, too. Goren has been hard at work creating a STEM curriculum with lessons on topics such as graphic design, computer building and storyboarding.
One of the goals of Game Haven, Goren said, “is not just to entertain kids, but to teach them.”
The gaming center also holds charity events. It hosted a 24-hour gaming marathon in November to support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals .
In the future, Goren hopes to expand the space. There’s an annex next door to the gaming room, which Goren said he hopes to use for parties or special events.
But, for now, Goren is content with creating an experience for his customers that he would have wanted as a kid.
“I’ve always wanted to a place like this when I was growing up,” he said.
Game Haven is located at 10 Cross St. in Norwalk. It is open 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, noon to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays.
For previous Daily Voice coverage on Game Haven, click here .
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