Benton Heisterberg and Nate List took a look at Sedalia’s entertainment landscape and noticed that things haven’t changed much since the 29-year-olds were teens.
“Even when we were in school, there were not a lot of options,” List said. “I remember going to high school, people would just hang out on the strip, just in parking lots. We wanted to create a place that we would have wanted to go to and that people our age still want to go to.”
What they have created is Mojos Gaming Lounge, a venture that will allow individuals and groups to gather and play current and classic video games without having to buy expensive consoles. Players will pay by the hour to rent games and play them in the lounge’s 17 gaming bays. There are 13 individual stations and four multiplayer setups, including one with a massive screen that puts the players right into the action.
Heisterberg hatched the idea for the lounge, 3611 S. Limit Ave., late last year.
“I was Christmas shopping in November right when PlayStation 4 and Xbox One came out,” he said. “I wanted to go to a game place and see what it looked like. There was one kid playing a soccer game and about 10 people standing around the TV. I thought to myself, ‘If there was a place … that just had a bunch of TVs and kids could come in and play, that would be great.’ So I mentioned it to (List), and we started looking into it and, holy cow, there’s already a lot of places around the country like this. So we started contacting them, finding out how they ran their businesses.”
They are renting their building and started renovating the space in April for Saturday’s grand opening. Heisterberg said that since Mojos’ sign went up more than a month ago, “We have had wanderers come on by and ask what is going on here.”
Beyond the gaming experience, Mojos also will provide computer and game console repair services, as well as mobile phone screen replacements.
When it comes to gaming, List said, “For both of us, it was a lot more hardcore when we were younger, but we still casually play now.” Their aim is to create an atmosphere that appeals to younger and middle-aged gamers alike.
“When you break down the demographics, under 18 is about a third of the demographic, 18 to 35 is about a third and then 36 and older, so it is pretty much across the board,” List said. Noting the proximity to Smith-Cotton High School, he added, “Already a lot of people have come in saying their kids are going to be interested, so probably it is going to be 18 and under as the primary target.”
Mojos will be family friendly, Heisterberg said. Soft drinks, energy drinks and packaged snacks will be available, but no alcohol will be sold. Parents of children age 10 and younger will need to check in with the manager and provide contact information in case there are any issues and state when they will return to pick up their child. In addition, parents will be able to create a profile for their child in Mojos’ computer system so they can ensure their child can only rent games with approved ratings.
The lounge’s inventory includes the most recent editions of titles that are updated every year, such as the Madden football games and Call of Duty. Plenty of youth-oriented games are available, as well.
“We have just about any major title that has come out for the new consoles,” List said.
The hefty prices for new gaming consoles make them unaffordable for many gamers and their families, Heisterberg said. Mojos is an effort to allow people to experience those games and systems.
“You don’t have to spend $60 on a brand new game, beat it and be done with it,” he said. “You can play it and switch to another game and just pay by the hour.”
Rates will differ depending on what kind of station a player uses, but they will start at $4 per hour and decline the longer you stay. Larger groups using the multiplayer bays will pay less per person. Mojos will be open seven days a week, but likely will move to a six-day schedule for the general public, with Sundays reserved for parties and special events such as tournaments.
Sedalia resident and video game player Brian Pettis sees Mojos filling a need in the community.
“I see it as kind of a modern arcade,” Pettis told me. “Home consoles have been able to replicate the audio/visual end of the arcade experience for the better part of 15 years now, but playing online doesn’t really have the same feel as trash talking someone standing less than a foot away, or lining up your quarters to call dibs on the next game. It’s really a shame that arcades are pretty much dead or dying, and I hope this can do something to bring a little of that feeling back for the younger generation.”
Heading into Saturday’s opening, List said he feels a little overwhelmed, with Heisterberg saying he is “50 percent excited, 50 percent nervous.” But with the help of their family and friends, they are confident Mojos will get off to a good start.
“I’m definitely rooting for them to succeed,” Pettis said. “The more stuff for kids to do around here, the better.”
IF YOU GO
Mojos Gaming Lounge, 3611 S. Limit Ave., will have its grand opening 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, July 5. Free hot dogs will be served from 6 to 8 p.m.