Finally, An Event for Gamers

February 20, 2014 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A comprehensive article detailing the rise of arcades, and an interview with the founder of Storm Unity and local event host, Joshua Campbell.

Interview Transcript by Kara Holmes:

What exactly is "Storm Unity?"

Storm Unity is an organization aimed at providing positive, exciting, and friendly video gaming entertainment. It's also my passion for creating new friendships, bringing awesome gaming experiences, and uniting the local video gaming community.

How did it all begin?

In 2003, I started out hosting Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) tournaments called DDR Storm. I was very huge into rhythm and dance games at the time. As time passed, I started incorporating other games into my tournament events. All tournaments had the name 'Storm' in the title, being that I resided in the stormy state of Florida. Eventually, it got to a point where I was hosting multiple video gaming events, but I didn't have a name to represent who I was other than my alias, 'Tyger'. So I came up with the name, Storm Unity, with a mission to unite all interested in the video gaming culture.

What were some of the obstacles you've faced when you were first getting started?

When I first started hosting, finding locations willing to host the events was a large obstacle for me. Unless you paid a hefty fee to rent the place, venues wouldn't even take me seriously. Even then, they would want you to guarantee that a specific amount of people would show or else, more fees would be owed. I wasn't a very persuasive guy. I also had problems with depending on others to help me out. I guess, in a way, that huge obstacle I had to overcome was... myself. I was raised to take my problems and solve them on my own. I had a vision of what way I wanted things done. I held the strong belief that 'If it wasn't right, it was wrong'. It took a long while to realize that in order to make these events successful, I had to start learning to depending on others.

Now that you've been doing this for a few years, do you still find yourself running into these obstacles?

From hosting events for so long, I've met a lot of awesome people. They say that to get ahead in life, it's all about who you know. I find that to be absolutely true. Because of word of mouth, I was able to find solid venues such as the Dive Bar downtown to host my gaming events. I've also found good trustworthy people to work with such as Ryan Thompson of GAAM and Dustin Gartenbush of Video Game Rescue who I can also call my friends. And I've since obtained a large amount of video gaming consoles that I'm happy to provide for gaming events.  I rarely run into these obstacles much anymore, but I do encounter new obstacles all the time such as potentially conflicting with other large local events and providing sufficient amounts of advertising. But I'm always up for challenges and taking them head on.

How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?

I never saw this as a business early on. I grew up playing sports and became quite competitive. I always thought it would be fun to have legitimate video game competitions locally. Since there were none around at the time, I decided to talk with the local arcade and ask about hosting. Since that initial event I hosted, it turned into something I loved doing. It was the peak of my social life. It became a reason to meet new people that have the same interests as you, create new friendships, and have an awesome time playing video games. I didn't have any business skills. I just had the drive to create a video gaming event that would make me say, "Wow, I really want to be there!”

Once I realized I was entering the business realm, I started taking interest in reading Leadership books and surrounding myself with positive people. The reading & positivity helped me focus on making what I felt were wise and productive decisions moving forward to the present.

As a child, what did you think you would be doing as an adult today?

I wanted to be a doctor. Then an astronaut. Then a psychologist. What I truly wanted was to be somehow working for Nintendo of America, but I didn't think that to be possible. At the time, video games were associated with being a kid, so I would have thought that I'd be forced to leave video games behind. But I do remember making a promise to myself that I would continue playing video games until the day I die. So I guess, that is still holding true!

Do you do any charity or non-profit work?

In the past, I've hosted two 24-hour video gaming marathon events for Child's Play Charity, which is an organization that helps brighten the lives of hospitalized children by providing video games, books, and toys to hospitals around the nation. We broadcasted this marathon through the gaming website, Twitch.TV, and the combination of both events raised over $3,500. I was happy to be a part of showing the positive side of video games and how it can be used to help others in need.

What do you see Storm Unity, or even just this event, turning into in the next year? In the next five years?

Well, I can't give away all of my secrets! But, I do see Jacksonville becoming more open to the video gaming community. I've met tons of cool people who were waiting for these types of video game events to attend locally. It would be awesome to have some type of large-scale convention specifically focused on the love of video gaming. But as far as Arcade Jax goes, I think it's a perfect monthly event at the Dive Bar that doesn't need to be changed.

What do you think is the future for this type of industry?

As the generation of video game players start to get older, I believe that you will start to see more focus on video gaming in specific businesses. In communities outside of Jacksonville, there are already bars and clubs with video games & arcade cabinets coming about. I feel that this is only the beginning and as time passes, the demand for video gaming themed venues will only increase. At the same time, we are not the only gaming event in Jacksonville. There's also the semi-annual GAAM event and the monthly PIXELATED events at TSI.

Why did you decide to start hosting Arcade Jax?

After hosting multiple tournaments, I wanted to bring something to the table that would interest a majority of video game lovers. Tournaments are fun, but sometimes, the competitive atmosphere can be a bit intimidating. I wanted to create a welcoming and friendly environment that was strictly video gaming focused where you could walk into a building and have the choice of any video game you wanted to play. I also wanted to bring back that old-school Arcade feel for those of us who use to frequent the arcades when we were younger. When the Tilt Arcade closed down a few years ago at the Regency Mall, choices became very limited without doing some traveling. With the support of close friends, I decided to give the idea of creating an arcade atmosphere and see how others would like it. Since the first event, all I've been hearing is positive feedback and ways to improve upon the event. I haven't looked back since.

What are some of the things someone can expect to see at Arcade Jax?

Lots of video games on free play! There will be some video game arcade machines provided by Jax Arcade Expo, modern gaming consoles like Xbox 360 & Playstation 3, retro consoles such as the Super Nintendo & Nintendo 64, multiple video games to choose from, a customized menu of gaming-themed alcoholic drinks such as Pokemon shots & Donkey Kong cocktails, free raffles with lots of video game prizes, and we have DJ NES spinning some awesome electronic tunes throughout the night to keep us energized. And it's ALL FREE! Well... except the drinks, of course!

What is the best way for people to keep up with upcoming events?

The best way to keep up with any local Jacksonville video gaming events is to follow @ArcadeJax on Twitter or LIKE us on Facebook at

Is there anything you'd like to say that we haven't touched on?

Thanks so much to Metro Jacksonville for giving me the opportunity to spread awareness about Arcade Jax! Hope to see you guys on Friday, February 21 at the Dive Bar!

Written and edited by Kara Holmes

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