Vegas. Forget the clichés. There's more to do there than you're likely to imagine. I've been to Vegas five times in the last year. I do not have a gambling problem; I can't afford to. I just love being in a stimulating environment. Yes, it's glitter and lights and shallowness personified, but look past that facade. It's a fascinating city and it's getting more fascinating each visit. Here's a town where gamer meets gamer.
Now, I didn't say I don't enjoy gambling; I just don't have a problem. Unless that problem is losing, in which case I have a huge problem.
The mechanical one-armed bandits are becoming museum pieces. Gone are the coin slots and that iconic pull lever, even though they're still referred to as slot machines and one-armed bandits. Most of these gaming machines have interactive video screens with animated bonus rounds. Unlike video games, however, no skill is required.
In addition to gaming, Vegas is renown worldwide for its nightclub scene. And one entrepreneur has incorporated gaming and clubbing most successfully. But we're talking video gaming, not gambling gaming. There is no gambling at Insert Coins, just pure gaming, drinking, chilling, and dancing. Yes, I know video games in a bar is not a novel concept, but this is not a bar nor is it an arcade. It is its own superbly blended cocktail of entertainment.
Insert Coins is located on Fremont Street, just a block east of the world's largest video screen known as the Freemont Street Experience. This area is quickly becoming one of the coolest parts of Vegas, with hip micro-boutique clubs, cafes, and eateries. It's a different trip than hanging on the Strip with the hands-in-the-air, squealing-at-anything, twenty-something drunken princesses and other tacky tourista that believe the world begins and ends between Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio. And if you come to Vegas to hang out at Jimmy Buffet's Margaretville, then you deserve to sell used cars in Michigan for a living.
I talked to owner, operator, and creator of Insert Coins, Chris Laporte, on location. We sat at the bar and I didn't even have a drink. I'm a professional. I may have had something to drink later that evening, but I was too drunk to remember.
On weekends, you can order bottle service at Insert Coins, grab a VIP booth with large-screen TV, and play your favorite console games with your entourage. They even have the Dreamcast. How cool is that? All this while bands or top DJs kick out the jams. If you're flying solo or duo, sit at the bar. The numerous overhead screens are for your gaming pleasure. Those sports games you see are being played live at the bar. It's all closed circuit events at Insert Coins. And if you prefer, there's a plethora of authentic arcade kiosks for that old school vibe you so badly require. You know you want it.
Insert Coins has a capacity of just under 300 people. On the weekends, there's a line to get in. Obviously Laporte is doing something right. He's identified a niche and has exploited it. It's all in the details. He wants gamers to become more sociable, less isolated in their homes. Less like the digital vampires they have become in our society. Chris points to the Japanese arcade culture, a culture that "gets it." There, the arcade is the catalyst for social interaction. Real, physical, social interaction.
If you're reading this, chances are you need a girlfriend. Guess what? Laporte estimates that half his customers are girls. Yes, girls game. And they party. They drink, they dance, and they play video games. And if you take a shower, put on a clean shirt that doesn't have AC/DC on it, and head down to Insert Coins, you might get lucky. This is Vegas. Anything can happen.
Laporte proves this concept can work, and he believes Insert Coins can work in other large centers. Let's hope this is one thing that happens in Vegas that doesn't stay in Vegas.
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: April 20, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*