Gaming centres are becoming increasingly popular for families living in Addis Abeba. Especially during the holidays and at weekends, they provide lots of fun for all. They include video games, sports, swimming pools, simulators and lots more. Children love to spend as much time as possible in such places, and adults too can enjoy, reports ASTER MENGESHA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.
“I always want to come to this place,” Leule Kibrom, 3, says excitedly.
Bob & Bongo are names given to characters of a girl and a boy displayed on posters in the gaming centre of the same name, located on the ground floor of Edna Mall. The place was full of children, parents and young people when Fortune visited; it was full of noises coming from the playing machines, and children’s shouts and screams.
The gaming areas are classified into three Zones. Each zone holds different types of machines. Zone one contains 13 gaming machines; the Mini Rider is a racing car simulator for children who are 90 to 120cm tall, with a wind and movement effect.
Most of the boys in zone one are playing football, where the players kick an actual ball, with a digital copy simulating the movement of the ball and a digital goalkeeper either catching or missing the ball; a lot of boys were also playing on the Playstation machines. Pump-it-up is a game that is played by stepping on the floor following guiding lights, guiding the players to dance to the music played by the machine. So many girls were waiting for their turn to play it.
Other gaming machines, such as 7D Simulator Formula 1 and Dirt 3, were brought to Bob & Bongos by Turkish and Dubai-based machine supply companies, at a cost ranging from 70,000 to 120,000 dollars each.
The centre has availed 100 gaming machines, which are visited by 4,000 to 5,000 customers, says Eyasu Kiros, the general manager of the centre.
The game centre, the cinema and the building that houses them are owned by the well known grade one contractor, Tekleberhan Ambaye. He opened Bob & Bongos in 2008. The centre reopened in June 2014 after an expansion process which added several machines.
Play Motion Sky and Play Motion Pro are among the more expensive machines the centre has bought this fiscal year, both of which are not allowed for children below the age of 12. The house calls them formula one machines. It is a 2D simulator with sound, wind and movement effects.
“We bought them each for 100,000 dollars from a Turkish company,” says Eyasu.
He says only Bob & Bongos have brought these machines to Ethiopia. Young boys love them.
“I am addicted to this game, I come here almost every day,” Adonay, 16, a high school student, says.
Game zone two contains a Hummer video game, which has a movement effect. Power Truck is another video game in the zone, with no movement effect. Sonic All Star is a basketball machine, which the player plays by throwing a basket ball into a basket. Pac-man Splash is a game players play by throwing a ball into a hole. Both infants and older children visit Game Zone 2.
The third one is Zone three. This zone contains a children’s playground. It is mostly visited by small children and their parents. Kibrom Dagnew used to bring his children – Esrom, 6, Leul, 3, and Edom, 12, once a month.
“My kids are happy to visit this place; especially Leul. He would prefer to come here every day,” says Kibrom.
Sky Fox and Fast Truck are small cars which the children ride in the playground. Bongo Beat is a big playground with a fire fighter, a wild house for children and a fire ball. Children aged 3 to 6 like those games, says Kibrom. Among the car games, Bumper Car is much adored by children. Warm and Namco Tank are the most popular 3D shooting machines.
Adults mostly enjoy the 7D simulator. The room holds a big projector and 12 seats. The technology has sound, movement, snow, water and touch effects.
Customers buy different amounts of coins based on the type of games they prefer to play. All machines work by inserting coins – one coin costs 8 br. The playgrounds work with tickets – the amount for one ticket is the same as the coin’s. There is a ticket prize for those who get high scores; so that they can take prizes based on the number of tickets they won.
“So many people visit the centre every day,” says Zeleke Tumebo, 26, a game attendant.
All the attendants are busy all day at weekends and after 5pm on weekdays.
Another gaming centre, Bora Amusement Park, is located on the right side of the ring road from Bole to Gerji. It was established in 1998, and is owned and managed by Emebet Woldeher. It was only a playground when it was first founded; now, it also has an indoor gaming area. A total of 107 game attendants and other staff work in the park.
The playground has game machines called Santa Train, merry-go-round and a swing chair for adults. There is a swimming pool for kids under 12 years old. Climber Bouncer, Slider Bouncer and Obstacle Bouncer are the most popular with children, according to one of the attendants. It is available for children above 10, who pay 30 to 40Br.
“I came here for the first time with these children. They are supported by an NGO that I work for. I am glad that they all are having fun with their friends,” said a Swedish visitor to the park.
The indoor area has an 8D simulator, basketball court and table tennis. The 8D simulator was bought from India two years ago, with water and sound effects. All the machines operate by inserting coins, or one needs to buy a ticket from the attendants. Coins cost 10Br each, and tickets are bought for 15Br, 30Br or 40Br, depending on the types of games.
The park gives extra services, like arranging birthday parties, school tours and a restaurant service.
“Lots of children come to celebrate their birthdays, and they are satisfied with the service that we provide,” says Wubishet Sahle, administrator of the park.
Another gaming centre, Arebon, around Bisrate Gabriel, along South Africa St, attracts people from around the neighbourhood, who come not only to play, but also to use its café and restaurant, says Selamu Bekele, owner and General Manager of the centre. The centre launched its services in December 2012.
The centre has its own patisserie, popcorn and ice cream shops. Fast Gunman, Rambo and Spirally are the most popular video games in the centre.
“These machines were brought from Dubai two months ago,” Selamu says.
Car racing and motor racing are the other video games, only allowed for four to 12 year olds. Small children enjoy the Thomas Train (a train model machine) and Frog Runs.
The game centre contains a playground, organises birthday parties and there is also a small shop that supplies birthday decors and gifts.
“My mum usually brings me here. I celebrated my fourth birthday here, I like this place,” says Mekdelawit Cherinet, 5, who was playing Big Punch, a game of putting small balls into a hole.
There is also a 5D simulator, with a medium sized projector and six seats. It has wind, ice, water, sound and thunder effects, and is available for kids above 4 years of age. The playground is accessible only for children below 7 years old and with a height below 1.1m. They sell a coin for six Birr and tickets for 15Br.
“I have bought 10 new machines for around 800,000Br; I also have plan to buy more machines and to facilitate other services, like arranging a school trip and related activities for the coming new year,” says Selamu.
Geremew Zerga is looking after his children, Eden, 3, and Samuel, 8. They are playing in the playground. He brings them to this place once a week. They prefer to play in the playground, rather than on the machines, he says.
“It is usually busy during the weekend, a lot of parents come with their children,” he said.
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