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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

San Marcos arcade creatively keeps staff employed despite COVID-19

Imran+Acosta%2C+owner+of+TGL+standing+with+one+of+his+project+cabinets+in+the+TGL+warehouse.

Imran Acosta, owner of TGL standing with one of his project cabinets in the TGL warehouse.

With COVID-19 causing non-essential businesses to shut their doors, a local arcade owner has found a way to allow his employees to work.
Texas Gamer Lounge, located on 4105 Hunter Rd building 19-b, is an arcade that allows visitors to play game cabinets or buy them. Imran Acosta, owner of Texas Gamer Lounge, is keeping all of his employees on staff and working safely by giving them different job responsibilities.
“What do you do in this situation? You either turn it into a long, extended spring break and burn the days or try to redeem it and use it for something that would be better long-term,” Acosta said.
Since the arcade is currently closed, Acosta is having his staff work on a variety of tasks such as moving games, fixing games and touching them up. He has been training employees to take on tasks they may have never performed.
“For us, it’s more about trying to create a creative way to work around this,” Acosta said. “Someone who used to be an arcade attendant or cashier is now learning how to install buttons and joysticks.”
The arcade regularly holds tournaments for two Texas State organizations: Gamers at Texas State and San Marcos Smash Ultimate. Due to the outbreak, these tournaments and others that TGL runs have gone online. Tournaments are streamed through the arcade’s Twitch channel @twitch.tv/texasgamerslounge, which has become another task for employees to work on.
“A couple of our staff are streaming games, stuff like Smash Bros., Animal Crossing, all kinds of stuff, whatever we can put out there,” Acosta said. “Technically, they’re going to be paid streamers.”
TGL employee Daniel De Leon Aguilar regularly runs online tournaments for fun but is now able to do that through his job.
“He’s supplying us with computers, he has a ton,” Aguilar said. “We will be streaming for the company. I’m pretty sure that the next tournament I run will be for TGL.”
Aguilar said Acosta has been careful to not have multiple employees in the arcade at a time and the employees still working are working by themselves.
Fellow arcade owner, Darren Spohn of Pinballz, was not able to keep his full staff employed like Acosta. However, Spohn has been able to provide benefits and extra paychecks to the majority of them.
“The harsh reality of this is that for companies like ours that have half-a-million-dollar payrolls, it’s devastating,” Spohn said.
After Pinballz closed its doors March 22, the majority of the staff was laid off. Pinballz launched an employee relief program for laid-off staff that allows individuals to purchase gift cards for future arcade use and the proceeds go to staff.
“The program is designed to bridge the gap between their last paychecks and their unemployment,” Spohn said.
Spohn and Pinballz took a few other measures to help their employees, making a hotline to coach them through the unemployment process, paying full-time employees’ medical benefits through April and delivering food to quarantined workers.
“We took the equivalent of $30,000 worth of food to our employees,” Spohn said. “This is the time where you want to support your employees, the time where you want to be there for them.”
Acosta is hoping that by the time that he is able to open TGL back up to the public that it will have more playable arcade cabinets than before.
“We’re working on games daily. Trying to build up an arsenal of more working games than ever before.” Acosta said. “We’ll throw a big party once we re-open.”
Spohn and Pinballz are selling arcade and pinball cabinets throughout COVID-19, keeping a minimal staff and also hoping to be back in full swing as soon as they are able to safely.
For more information on TGL you can go to their Facebook page @texasgamerlounge or check out their Twitch channel: twitch.tv/texasgamerslounge. For more information on Pinballz arcade follow @pinballzaustin on Twitter.

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