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Close Quarters Social Gaming Club is home to niche gaming communities

Mike Thomas

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Success comes in many forms, each with its own unique challenges. You can slave away as a humble drone, stacking your meagre financial treasures until they amount to a fortune. Or, you can tackle obstacles like a sword-wielding valkyrie, dominating the competition until you crash and burn. Then again, you could always just ride the big pink snail into the wicker basket thingy.

As Close Quarters Gaming Club founder Blake Compton can tell you, there’s no “right” way to play Killer Queen, the five-on-five arcade game that is the centerpiece of his establishment. Whatever path to victory you pursue, the thing that sets this game apart is its unique potential for building community.

“The differentiating factor between [Killer Queen] and other games is that you can’t play against people online,” Compton explains. “You have to play in person, meaning you have to coordinate 10 people to show up at the same time, so there’s a lot of energy.”

Photos: Kyle Asperger

For the uninitiated, Killer Queen is a real-time strategy platformer that pits teams of up to five players each against each other in a bee-themed world. One player on each team assumes the role of a powerful, warlike queen, with others playing as drones. As previously mentioned, victory in the game comes in several forms: collecting special berries, by assassinating the enemy queen, or by riding a giant snail god into your team’s goal.

While Killer Queen puts a unique spin on the format, Compton has a long history with cooperative gaming. In his college days, he spent his free time playing the online multiplayer game Defense of the Ancients on a national-level competitive team. After graduating, Compton started a successful construction company and fell out of the hardcore gaming scene for a time. It was discovering Killer Queen that brought him back into the fold.

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“I enjoyed it because, at the time, no one knew me,” Compton recalls of his early experiences playing the game at the original Arcade Super Awesome location. “I had built up a company and people knew me around town, but now there was this segment of the population who didn’t care who I was—I was just another guy, and if I sucked at the game I sucked at the game.”

With a growing community of passionate players emerging around the game, Compton realized the potential for creating a purpose-built space for the Killer Queen community in Central Ohio to call home. When an opportunity to rent a space in Franklinton presented itself, Compton turned to the community to help make his vision for the gaming club a reality.

Close Quarters founder Blake Compton

“It was truly member-run and member-built,” Compton says of his club, which got off the ground thanks to crowdsourced help in every area from construction to branding. “I invested a lot of money, but a lot more could have been spent if not for the 20 or 30 people who helped build this thing.”

The resulting member-built club is part chic, modern lounge and part micro-game arena, complete with commentator’s booth for live-streaming tournaments on the gamer-centric online streaming platform Twitch. And of course, there’s the twin game cabinets of Killer Queen, the game that serves as the focal point of the space.

In addition to acting as a hub to the local Killer Queen community, Close Quarters is the sometimes-home to events for other niche gaming interests. In particular, the Columbus fighting game community—which includes competitive players of titles like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Super Smash Bros.—frequently rent the space for their tournaments.

“We have so many different cultures and so many different-sized venues that, these days, we just kind of pick what kind of atmosphere we want out of an event before we even pick the venue,” explains Kyle Keister, a leader in the local fighting game culture who frequently hosts tournaments at Close Quarters. “This place is nice because it’s got built-in streaming, and the home living room feel.”

Beyond the gaming world, Compton has found ways to incorporate his community-minded approach through the local arts scene. He partnered with the consultancy Side Hustle Syndicate, which uses the club as a venue for events, and has also secured a grant to host Franklinton Friday galleries in the space featuring the work of local creatives. In the same vein, gamer- themed murals from renowned Columbus artists Hakim Callwood and Mandi Caskey adorn the outside of the building.

Want to check out this thriving community for yourself? $5 will get you in the door for a single day. If you like what you see, membership to the club runs $40 a month. Whether you’re in it for glory on the Killer Queen cabinet, or just looking for a friendly gathering of like-minded gamers, Close Quarters offers a more welcoming and homey environment than most bar-arcades.

“I don’t run it as a typical business, where you’re trying to make money and have employees and make a viable scheme. I run it more like an uber-hobby,” Compton says of the club. “It’s kind of like your mom’s gamer basement on steroids.”

To learn more, visit socialgamingclub.com, or find Close Quarters on Facebook.

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Community

Lend A (Washed) Hand: 5 volunteering opportunities available this week

Mitch Hooper

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It's time like these that many folks are looking to help but unsure where to start. Luckily for Columbus, the Point App is here to help.

The Columbus-based Point App is a tool that both volunteers and nonprofits can use to connect and work together on projects. It's easy-to-use interface makes signing up as a volunteer a breeze, and with its connections throughout Central Ohio, many nonprofits are utilizing the app; especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We see the needs of nonprofits skyrocketing," said Madison Mikhail Bush, founder of the Point App.

The Human Service Chamber and The United Way gathered data to show what nonprofits are facing during the outbreak. The reported stats found that 24% of responding agencies have reported layoffs of employees, 41% of nonprofits are reporting financial losses of 10%, and 66% of nonprofits have canceled or postponed major fund raising events.

"Nonprofits rely on those events to function," Mikhail Bush said. "It's going to be very important that we meet the needs of nonprofits swiftly and efficiently. So when they post those needs on Point, it's because they really do need people to respond to them."

If you are healthy and able, consider donating your time, resources, or finances to one of the many nonprofits in Columbus. Point recently added a donate feature where users can donate money, rather than time, to promote social distancing. And if you are unsure if you are able to help, Point designed this handy flowchart to see if you are considered "low risk."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B91vzbngHJ-/

And to help you out, we put together five different ways you can get involved. As always, remember to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and keep a six foot distance between you and another person—even while volunteering.

1.) Drop Off Supplies For Family Care Kits to South Side Early Learning | All day | Wednesday to Friday

These supplies can include non-perishable food items, educational items, diapers, and cleaning supplies.

2.) Produce Give-A-Way with the Hilltop YMCA | 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. | Wednesday | *27 spots available

At the Hilltop YMCA, volunteers are needed for tasks such as sorting and bagging produce items, directing traffic, and assisting with clean up.

3.) Packing Food for Homebound Deliveries with the Worthington Resource Pantry | 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. | Thursday | *Only two spots available

Many folks during this shelter-in-place are unable to leave their homes. Here, you can help out by packing food to distribute to families in Worthington and North Columbus.

4.) Delivering Groceries to Homebound Families with the Worthington Resource Pantry | 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. | Thursday | *Only one spot left

If the 1 p.m. start time on Thursday doesn't fit your schedule, they will be delivering the groceries starting at 2 p.m.

5.) Donate For COVID-19 Relief For New Americans with Riverview International Center | Ends April 30

In addition to financial gifts to provide gift cards to affected new Americans in Columbus, you can donate working laptops and tablets, art supplies, and educational supplies.

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Community

Columbus Does Good: The COVID-19 edition

Linda Lee Baird

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The people of Columbus are always finding ways to up their game when it comes to giving back. We’re a city that’s continually building a virtuous cycle: a non-profit with a new idea solves a problem; a business builds the concept of social responsibility into its mission; a neighborhood bands together to accomplish a task—and then others are inspired by these efforts. The question here, to paraphrase JFK, is not what Columbus can do for you, but what you can do for Columbus.

On second thought, maybe those aren’t the right questions. A city, afterall, is nothing but buildings without the people who live there. The question, then, is what can we do for each other? And during times like this, we’re finding out.  

Following Fred Rogers’ advice to “look for the helpers,” we’ve been keeping our eyes out over the past weeks to see how the community is adapting. It turns out that even when we’re required by law to socially distance ourselves, the community is still there—maybe standing six feet away—but never far enough to forget what it means to be part of something larger. Here are just a few of the many awesome resources and examples of doing good that caught our eye. Remember, though, things are changing rapidly, so please reach out and confirm efforts are still underway before showing up to help! 

Food

One of the greatest concerns that came when Gov. DeWine closed schools was for the kids across the state who rely on daily free breakfast and lunch, including the 50,000 students in Columbus City Schools. Luckily, the school district continues to provide free breakfast and lunch to any child under the age of 18 who needs it—even those not enrolled in CCS—at 15 “grab and go” sites across the city. The Mid Ohio Foodbank and the Parks and Recreation department even teamed up with the schools one morning to offer free, pre-bagged produce at a Grab and Go site in addition to the meal. A list of the Grab and Go sites is available at ccsoh.us/Page/7560. 

Kids, of course, aren’t the only ones who need to eat. The Clintonville Beechwold Community Resources Center has partnered with the Clinton Heights Lutheran Church for a sack lunch drive offering food to all ages. The CRC has also assembled and distributed “necessity boxes” for older adults in Central Ohio. The CRC plans to keep giving, and is requesting monetary donations to support its work at this time. Visit clintonvillecrc.org/updated-crc-services-for-covid19 to learn more. 

COhatch has proven to be more than just a coworking space during this crisis. It partnered with Vaso and the Point App to make and deliver meals to those in need across the city. Reach out for help if you are in need of food or supplies to [email protected]; or contact [email protected] to support their efforts. 

Make-A-Day is seeking funding to send food trucks to low-income areas of Columbus in order to feed the homeless, children home from school, and other residents. Support their mission with a donation at makeaday.fun. 

Gear and supplies

A key ingredient in the hand sanitizer that you can’t find anywhere on shelves these days is good ol’ ethyl alcohol. Luckily, some local businesses including Middle West Spirits and Watershed Distillery have an abundance. They are making hand sanitizer to provide first responders, hospitals, and homeless shelters. The Columbus Foundation purchased the first $50,000 worth of product from Middle West, according to a report from The Dispatch

Meanwhile, Bespoke Salon Studio is collecting PPE to donate to area hospitals while the salon is closed. Send them a message on instagram at @bespoke_salon_studio_columbus to donate.

Caffeine Karma

The Roosevelt Coffeehouse is collecting donations of coffee for first responders, because, let’s face it, they’re going to need it in the coming weeks. The community can help in two ways: by purchasing $9 healthcare worker bags that the shop will give to first responders, or buy a bag of any coffee for yourself and they’ll donate another bag to a healthcare professional. You can also leave notes of encouragement on the bag. Grab your joe and help a hero at 300 E Long St.

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Arts & Culture

Virtual Experiences bring culture to our couch

614Now

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Now that we're all stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we could use some entertainment beyond hours of Netflix bingeing. And yes, Carole probably did it*

WOSU Public Media has come to the rescue by putting together a list of local, virtual experiences to enjoy from the safety and comfort of your bunker. Here's a list of just a few upcoming events ranging from music to the arts.

Sunday, March 29
Columbus Symphony’s Russian Winter Festival – The Columbus Symphony broadcasts its Russian Winter Festival ll concert, featuring masterpieces by Prokofiev, Borodin, Rimski-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky at 1 p.m. on Classical 101.

Columbus Goes Live – The Cyber Festival –  A virtual entertainment experience streaming across different pages to support local performers who are directly impacted by the critical shutdowns of venues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Join in and make history by supporting your favorite bands, comedians and performers in the Columbus area.

Why not a virtual bar?

Brewdog is even getting in on the act with its upcoming, Brewdog Online Bar. They plan to "open" for business at 6pm on Friday, March 27th. The bar plans to feature live beer tastings with our co-founders James and Martin and other beer experts, homebrew masterclasses, live music & comedy and more.

Brewdog will be sharing further details soon and a complete schedule of the events on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.

*Carole, as in this Carole.

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