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We Swapped Clothes for Consoles!

Life is full of unlikely discoveries and coincidences. Like the disturbingly common pleasure of dunking McDonald’s fries in milkshakes, or how some people’s names spelt backwards still spell their name correctly.

So, you can imagine our surprise then, when intu Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, Essex enabled us - a video gaming events business - to take over a major fashion retailer’s premise. I mean it actually does make sense when you think about it; who really needs another clothes store anyway? Playing games is a lot more fun than trying on fifteen different outfits only to decide you’ll “come back later” after you’ve been to another fifteen clothes stores and tried on a further fifteen outfits. 

HYPD-Arena.jpgAnyway, yes you did read correctly: HYPD was granted access to what was formally a Zara retail unit, and a whopping great big one at that. We were tasked with converting the former fashion house into HYPD Arena; our swanky, sparkly, state-of-the-art video gaming space - complete with a plethora of different games and experiences for players of all ages and abilities.

Now, we know a lot about games - I mean, it’s our job - but DIY? Yeah, that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. As you’d expect, the behemoth unit was left by-and-large like a Zara; lots of hanging clothes rails, feature walls, ten-foot mirrors, major window displays - you name it, we had to alter it. And do you know what? It was fun. Running around with a hammer smashing stuff like some kind of Poundland Thor fuelled by Pret A Manger lattes was sort of, I dunno, liberating?

There was bashing, there was crashing, there were acres of walls and displays which all needed painting, or filling, or sanding. There was infrastructure which needed forming, sawing, building. To say it was a time-consuming and energy-zapping process would be an understatement, but our humble team of hard-working lads pushed on through many early hours to get the project completed. And considering we couldn’t tell you one end of a spanner for another, I think we did a pretty good job, to be honest. Even Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud would have given us a thumbs up… Tournament-Gameplay.jpg

Once all the manual labour had been completed, it was time to jump into the good stuff - setting up the consoles, configuring the Virtual Reality, dressing the thrilling HYPD Legends esports activation. Now HYPD Arena didn’t only house a staggering amount of gaming facilities, it also featured miles and miles of power cables, HDMIs and USBs; all of which had to be neatly arranged and smartly concealed. Praise the Lord for the Cable Tie.

We officially unveiled the shiny-new, amply cable-tied HYPD Arena to intu Lakeside shoppers on Wednesday 24th August, and the response was overwhelming. Our hard work and vision had really paid off. Parents were thrilled with the pricing and variety of facilities for their children (plus, you know, they knew that they could leave the kids with us and enjoy their shopping in peace…), meanwhile children and young adults alike loved the huge assortment of games; particularly fighting hoards of zombies and dodging enemy bullets with UNIVRSE Virtual Reality Experiences. UNIVRSE-Player.jpg

Another big highlight was our HYPD Legends FIFA 19 tournament, which ran for the duration of our time at intu Lakeside. Players were invited to record a score which was then logged onto a digital leaderboard system. The top-ranking players from PlayStation 4 and XBOX One were then invited back to HYPD Arena to compete in a thrilling knockout competition, with a grand prize of a professional esports contract up for grabs. We even had a professional football commentator for the finals; building up the atmosphere tenfold. In the end, young soccer superstar Jack Rolfe took the ultimate prize as he battled his way to gaming glory; lifting the coveted HYPD Legends trophy! Jack-Rolfe.jpg

We traded from 10am-10pm on weekdays, 9am-9pm on Saturdays, and finally 11am-5pm on Sundays. Suffice to say, there was plenty of gaming time to enjoy, and boy did customers take advantage of it! HYPD Arena had a steady stream of recurring players, who were mournful upon discovering our stay was temporary. Seeing kids waiting outside, ready for that giant iron roller banner to vanish so they could pour in and reconnect with their favourite games and characters was very humbling.

Family-Fun.jpgYou see, a massive thing for us is community; we want to build a network of customers and players alike who come together to share their love of video gaming. Sometimes games get a bad rep. It can be used as a bit of a scapegoat. I’ve been approached by numerous media outlets about “video game addiction” or “how video games are negatively impacting society”, and in truth, it’s largely codswallop. I firmly believe that through our events initiative, we are providing an outlet for players to connect and build friendships, and parents have cottoned on to its powerful effects too. We had numerous positive comments from mums and dads who perhaps realise that playing games isn’t quite as “damaging” as breakfast TV anchors want you to think.

We hired an awesome gaggle of locals to help us with the running and upkeep of the space during the Summer campaign which was a lifesaver. As you can imagine, the upkeep of a big shop like ours is no small task, plus our offices are not actually based in Lakeside, so negotiating the dreaded Dartford Crossing everyday meant occasionally (okay, often) the traffic was against us. Having that reassurance that our baby was in safe and capable hands really helped take a weight off. HYPD-Staff.jpg

 

With this in mind, we’d like to thank everyone who helped make HYPD Arena at intu Lakeside a massive success. Our team, the shopping centre’s team, our key partners HTC; Razer; GT Omega Racing; Samsung, and Hamilton Rentals - we’re hugely grateful for all your dedication and support!

So yeah, life really is full of unlikely discoveries and coincidences. We discovered that video gaming makes a perfect partnership with fashion. Who’d have thought it?

 

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