Mother-son entrepreneurs launch esports gaming center in Lisle
A Lisle mother-and-son business team is hoping to find success with the latest spin on the video game arcade.
In January, Catherine Sarrett and Joseph Moseley opened the Scrims Esports Gaming Center at 2000 Ogden Ave., the site of a former Family Video store.
Scrims is meant to be a social haven for both casual and competitive computer gamers.
Its 6,000-square-foot floor plan allows for 100 guest stations to play hundreds of computer games by the hour or in special tournaments. But due to social distancing, Sarrett and Mosley started with just 40 high-end PCs and other gaming consoles.
"It's kind of a blessing in disguise with the startup costs," said Sarrett about opening during a pandemic. "We'll fill out when we can."
Computer games have been a die-hard passion for Moseley, a recent graduate of the University of Miami where he competed in intercollegiate esports clubs and tournaments. Now as Scrims' director of operations, Moseley creates in-house tournaments for games like "Rocket League" and "Call of Duty."
"I do compete competitively online, but I don't here because I'm the organizer," Moseley said.
Sarrett and Moseley saw a void in DuPage County for an esports center. They also were encouraged by seeing the success of Ignite Gaming Lounge, which has locations in Skokie and Chicago, and GameWorks in Schaumburg, which has an esports lounge (temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic). Hoffman Estates Park District is planning to open an "E-Sports Zone" in April in its Vogelei Park Barn.
On a recent Saturday, Sarrett and Moseley offered a tour of their facility. Scrims has party rooms that can be rented out for teams or corporate training sessions and a cafe area where guests can buy food and drinks.
With safety in mind, Scrims opened with clear acrylic dividers between the game stations. An air purification system also was included.
Sarrett said all their computers have software to not only stream over the web, but also in-house for select players' games to appear on wall-mounted TVs.
A few computers are also kitted out with two monitors and webcams so gamers can more easily comment and show themselves on-screen while simultaneously playing a game.
Rates typically are $7 for an hour, $18 for three hours and $25 for five hours of play.
"As soon as I walked in, I was mind-blown," said 13-year-old Devin Babinsky of Lisle. "I'm in love with this place."
Babinsky and a half-dozen masked friends gathered at Scrims on a recent Saturday, switching between Xbox and Nintendo Switch gaming consoles. Though many of Babinsky's friends said they have computers at home, they were not as high-powered as the ones at Scrims. They also enjoyed hanging out away from their parents.
Also visiting was Jeannine East, a project manager overseeing esports in Northern Illinois University's division of outreach and regional development in DeKalb. East recently invited Sarrett for a Zoom lecture at NIU because the school has an esports minor.
"We know that esports is more than just becoming a pro player," said East, referring to elite gamers who make money online via gaming platforms like Twitch.
East says esports is a booming industry and is gaining more respectability. She also likened it to sporting leagues that have options for ancillary careers.
"Esports is just like the NBA -- you need managers, coaches, accountants, auditors -- all kinds of different things," East said. "It's so new that everyone's career path is different. We were so lucky that Catherine (Sarrett) talked to our students as an entrepreneur as someone who built their own esports business."