The video arcade game was jammed in a small room in a strip mall in Alliance, Ohio. The arcade itself was six doors down from my father’s place of business, and I recall walking in there one summer day and opening the door and the wash of bleeps and blips and a galaxy of other noises hit my face. The carpet was worn thin as a tortilla from all the stationary feet.

I remember encountering Pac Man for the first time.

The video arcade game was jammed in a small room in a strip mall in Alliance, Ohio. The arcade itself was six doors down from my father’s place of business, and I recall walking in there one summer day and opening the door and the wash of bleeps and blips and a galaxy of other noises hit my face. The carpet was worn thin as a tortilla from all the stationary feet.

What was this place?

My sister was there, too, and she explained what it was. An arcade, Jeff. These are video games. Put a quarter in the machine and play.

Thus began my long love affair with video games. It was 1981.

My, how things have changed. I could have guessed how things would eventually become after the Gods above released the Atari 2600 unit, a ridiculously shaped black box with a goofy controller that stuck straight up like a hair lick. Before I got the unit, I was riding my bike up the street and crossing a four lane road to get to a place called Cisco’s – the largest arcade in the city.

Eventually it would be converted into a bar, and, well, that’s another story.

So I was happy to see that Blue Springs kids, specifically teenagers, can also create some memories with the opening Fusion Game Café on Main Street. It’s the creation of Matthew and Julie Mathiesen, who opened the business a little less than a month ago.

“It was my husband’s idea mostly,” Julie said. “He always wanted to do something like this.”

The couple have two teenage boys, and they like video games. Surprise there. So with a little work, they converted the office space into what has become a cool little hangout for kids and adults alike.

“There really isn’t a place for kids to hang out, not like this,” Julie said. “We want kids to get out of the house more, work on the social skills. That’s what a lot of this is – a social event, a place to hang out.”

The place is open every day of the week, usually around 2 p.m. Closing time is, well, whenever.

“It can be 11, 12, 1 a.m., 2 a.m. – there’s no set time really,” she said. “It works for all ages.”

I distinctly remember closing times at Cisco’s, but things change because evidently arcades no longer close. And video games themselves change, too, obviously: at the café, there are XBOX 360s, Wiis, PS3. Rows of televisions line the walls. There’s a small hourly fee involved, but there are spring specials, too.

Tonight, there’s a Yugio and Super Smash Brothers tournament beginning around 6 p.m., which is more than my arcades of youth offered. I don’t even remember seeing an owner, just definitive blackness and eerie screens and slumped over children.

You gotta give it to this couple; they see a need in the city and they fill it. Not only that, but it’s on Main Street, which is experiencing its own kind of fiscal and cultural Renaissance of sorts these days.

In addition to games, there are refreshments available and some items for sale, as well as other weekly activities and offerings, but I’ll let Julie and Matt tell you all about that.

When you drop by sometime.

Visit  http://www.jmgiftsmo.com/Home.php for more information.