Cristopher Ruiz believes that video games can connect people in the community.
With the opening of 20/20 Gaming on Saturday, Nov. 9, in the Lakeshore Mall, Ruiz plans to get teenagers out of their homes and into a social setting.
“The concept of the business is to give them a spot to come in and hang out together and play video games,” Ruiz said. “Everyone is a lot more competitive when they’re in front of other people.”
Blue lights illuminate the shop, which features foosball and pool tables, and is bordered with screens for Xbox gaming. A concession stand sits in the back of the business, where teenagers can grab nachos, hotdogs, soft drinks and popcorn before jumping back into their games.
Customers will pay by the hour. Monday through Thursday rates are $11 an hour and Friday through Sunday costs $15 an hour.
The entertainment at the shop consists of popular Xbox games like “Fortnite,” “FIFA,” “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “Mortal Kombat.” The business also has several Nintendo Switches that include “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “Super Mario Bros. Deluxe” and “Street Fighter.”
In three to four months, Ruiz plans to have a section with PlayStation 4 consoles.
At 20/20 Gaming, Ruiz said he aims to foster a family-friendly environment where parents feel comfortable leaving their kids.
“A lot of problems come from kids going out and their parents not knowing where they are,” he said. “Here, they know this place and it’s welcoming here. It’s open-spaced and a family business as well.”
Ruiz, who owns the shop, runs it with his parents and two younger siblings.
Those who frequent the Lakeshore Mall might have met Ruiz or his family members. Their first venture together was Frozo, the rolled ice-cream kiosk in the mall.
Growing up in Gainesville, Ruiz said he never had a place where he could go to spend time with peers as a teenager.
Through opening 20/20 Gaming, he intends to help spark friendships among kids of different backgrounds.
“Ultimately, I want to get people out more and help them make connections,” Ruiz said. “We need more places like this to open up to the community a little more.”
The shop’s hours are 3-9 p.m., Monday through Friday; noon to 9 p.m., Saturday and noon to 6 p.m., Sunday.