Monday, November 16, 2015

Dealing With Bad Days And Working Past It

So I wanted to open the eyes of those who don't understand the way things work when you are trying to establish a business.  I'm not sure where to exactly start, but I can tell you this.  Opening a small business is not an easy task.  There are the obvious things such as finding a proper location, having or obtaining financial backing, and then operating the business itself.  These steps might seem very simple, but when you take into account all the work and effort required, things are not as easy as they seem.  Just finding a city that would allow an establishment like Super Arcade was a task in itself.  Had I told people what I was going through just to obtain the proper permits for this, I'm sure I would've looked like a clown and no one would believe me.  If my public hearing were not streamed live, my entire effort might have already been shut down and all of my loyal friends and customers might have just called it quits too.  But thankfully, the internet does exist and the City of Azusa not only archives and records their hearings, but yes, they too are streamed just like our beloved tournaments.

At this point, I have honestly been doing everything I can to speed things up and get up and running as soon as possible.  Here is where the toughest part of everything stands and here is where my biggest problem comes.  I am not in control of what is going on and not able to change that.  We received a stop work order back in mid September due to building permit issues.  I can only press the issue so much in terms of asking for things to get expedited and what not before I just become a nuisance to the city planners and get on their bad side.  The funniest part of all this is, some people think I am not opening on purpose.  Let me just say that by not being open now, I am currently paying rent on a building that is not in use, I am not taking in any revenue from the location, I am completely stressing myself out day and night because the situation, and also being stuck without any progress for almost 2 months will drive anyone insane.  If you calculate expenses during this time, I am at an estimated loss of roughly 4,000 to 5,000 per week.  So if anyone believes that losing this type of money is fun then be my guest and walk in my shoes please.

Regardless, this week we will be allowed back at work and move as fast as we can to get things finished with all the proper steps being taken.  There has been very few times where I wanted to give up, but this particular project has really driven me to the brink on occasion.  The light at the tunnel seems so near but at the same time out of arms reach and ever so frustrating.  The journey is almost over everyone and thank you all for hanging around.  The next post will have a lot more positive things to talk about so keep your eyes open for that.  Until then, thank you again for your support and thank you all for reading.

Just some ranting and daily thoughts......

(This blog was written around 10/20)

As I mentioned in my previous post, things are really really starting to weigh down on my life.  I have so many things to be thankful for and I try to just do keep moving forward without any regrets.  There are so many situations that have led me to the current point in my life and honestly these events have been almost unbelievable.  I will share some of these stories with you guys over the next few posts since I have some time while waiting for the city to either grant or deny our restroom situation.  There's a lot of things that have been on my mind and being as I have been very public about everything, there is no need to stop now.

I don't want to continue to beat on a dead horse or bring up old nonsense, but if a lot of people want to continue to accuse me of things than I guess I should defend myself a bit.  People honestly feel that I have some type of grudge against Alex Valle and I want to clear that up once and for all.  And I would also like to take the time to state my opinions regarding the status of the FGC and competitive gaming.  So, I am not going to get back into any super specific details, but I will say this.  Valle did not ditch me and the separation of Super Arcade and LevelUp was very much beneficial towards me.  I no longer had to split venue fees and we still had the same attendance on Wednesdays and Thursday.  Without stating the obvious, the financial aspect of this huge and things were taking a turn in the right direction.  The only thing that was bad about this is that regardless of the what Super brought to the scene, tourneys on Wednesday nights were the idea of Alex and it was kind of sad that things did come to an end.  I met Alex way before many of you even heard about Street Fighter, and it's always a tough thing mixing friends and business.  But hey, we are both adults and we know what we are doing and the direction we are headed.  He is now accomplishing what he wants to do, and I am doing things the way I want to as well.  There is so much I want to discuss, but I will just go into two specifics regarding all this.

Firstly, this whole separation was actually brought about because of one person, Mr. Wizard.  I have already explained my whole ordeal with this guy and I don't want to rehash on it because it's already completely confirmed that he is nothing but a greedy leech to the community and only yearns to be in a position of power to feed his ego.  We already know he tried to sabotage my 37 Reloaded tournament last year that led me to speak out on stream one night and say some things that might have been best left unsaid.  But anyways, that's over with and not until recently I found out he also tried to tarnish my friendship and reputation with the Cannon brothers.  This sick bastard told them that I tied to "DDOS attack" them in some manner and had I not found out from a third party, this rumor would still be truth in their eyes.  Tom Cannon was actually a major help in guiding me through the Kickstarter campaign and him and his brother are the two people I look up to and respect the most in the entire community.  No matter what anyone does or achieves in terms of helping or moving the FGC forward, the existence of this community is purely cause of their love and support from day 1.  So for Wizard to actually spread this rumor and try to turn them against me, that's just an all time low even from his standards.  Luckily I reached out and straightened things out recently so I didn't have to deal with any more problems that I didn't create with them.

Now onto the second part.  Valle was always one who was willing to push forward and really driven to get sponsors and just be a part of the so called "Big Show."  I was more in favor of keeping a competitive environment and doing what was best for the players and our customers.  Here is where more people tend to overextend their opinions and call me a poor business man and other friendly names.  So to give a different perspective of the situation, I am the type that would rather work hard, do things my way, and not sell out just for the money or the fame.  Others seem to be blinded by the money and feel that having an extravagant setting and mimicking other scenes is the way to go.  Growth is a natural thing, but it just seems that lately people are caring less about the game and just aiming for a quick buck and self gains.  Now I know people will have their opinions, and sometimes mine opinion isn't the most popular, but I am who I am and I will just keep things 100% honest at all times.  Will this ultimately be the reason for my own demise?  Possibly, but at least I can deal with the fact that I hurt myself, and wasn't a victim to anything that I didn't bring upon myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dealing with the Constant Setbacks and Current Mindset

Well, it's the day after my "target" open date for Super Arcade and I can't say I'm feeling very upbeat or happy at the moment.  I began this journey to find a new home for the arcade over 10 months ago and it has definitely taken its toll.  As a gamer, I have always had the drive to either do something to its fullest, or not do it all.  This was the attitude I took not only in my work, but also in my hobbies.  There have been so many things that have taken place throughout my efforts to reopen the arcade which include both good and bad memories.  Being as this arcade was so important to so many people, I felt the need and desire to pursue something that would benefit the community and give these people a place they can call their second home.

Back in April I had already secured a location that was feasible for all the needs of the arcade, but unfortunately that particular location was frowned upon by the city and its residents, and after fighting for almost 3 months to obtain the proper permits for that spot, I was denied.  But then, some good news came about and I was given a suggested location within the same city and told it would be ideal not only for me but also accepted by the city itself.  So in August I received the permits I needed to run and arcade at this new location and was ready to get started.  The problem with the new location though is, the building is very old, there are a lot of improvements that need to be made, and a ton of time and money need to be spent to bring things up to par here.  I am now learning that following rules and abiding by all the regulations not only issued by city, but also by the state, can be a very long and tedious process.  This is the current situation I am in.  There are a ton of requirements that need to be reached which include keeping everything handicap accessible, following rules of maximum occupancy, providing enough restrooms for our customers, and so on and so forth.  There is no speedy way to complete this process and we have no choice but to follow the rules here.

At this point, it does not matter how fast my crew or I can finish things.  Now it's just a matter of getting the proper building permits to complete the items that need to be completed.  I see people complaining about the fact that it's taking too long, or others assuming that I am lagging.  To set the record straight, I would wish nothing more than to have the arcade open RIGHT NOW.  I am paying rent on a building that is not operating at this time.  This does nothing for me besides stress me out and cost me more and more money.  The current issue we are dealing with now is that the city is requesting us to build 2 more restrooms on top of the 2 that already exist.  This is not a cheap task and will cost roughly $20,000 to complete.  That price might seem crazy high or unreasonable to some of you, but you have to figure in the cost of paying for permits to build, having an architect make and submit drawings and plans, and then paying a contractor to make those plans a reality.  This isn't a simple case of changing a toilet or a sink here.  At this point we have already spent over $20,000 just in renovations and over a month's time.  If we can get past the idea of adding restrooms, the work that needs to be done will take less than a weeks time.  That is how close we are to completing this project.

Also, now since there is competition to what we are doing, this adds a lot of stress to step things up and make things that much better here.  It doesn't help that I am now competing with an ex-partner and friend that is going to be hosting an event next week, but unselfishly thinking, at least it gives the community somewhere to go while I am not able to provide this service.  All I can do is hope people will return to us once things are finished and continue to frequent the establishment that cares about its players.  Funny as it seems, some people feel I was being the aggressor and acting rudely in my last blow when I was merely replying to jabs that were thrown at me.  But then again, these comments of being unprofessional are coming from people who hide behind various screen names and do not nothing for the community, so it's my fault for letting that bother me.

There is also a ton of assuming going on and many people think it's just so simple to open an arcade.  I suggest those who think that go back and view the archives of both our public hearings and see exactly what we are dealing with.  There is a ton of time, effort, and money that goes into doing something like this.  At times I will admit I have felt like throwing in the towel and just sticking my head under a rock.  The people closest to me ask me all the time why I don't give up and just call it a day.  I sometimes myself wonder the same, and sadly speaking, all this stress and lack of sleep is causing some health issues.  Luckily, I can take this weekend off and spend some time with my family and set my mind at ease.  I have another meeting with my contractor and city hall that will determine the outcome of the restroom situation come Monday morning so I will have some good news hopefully after that.  Until then, thank you all again for all the support and I really look forward to finishing up everything and seeing everyone again real soon.

Thank You,
Mike Watson

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Latest Updates and Potential Opening Date!

Hello again everyone!  It has been an extremely long process that has brought us to this point.  As most of you know, we have already acquired the "Multi-Use Permits" required to run a coin-op business in our particular location of Azusa.  My crew and I have been working diligently to not only get things done properly, but also under the rules of the State and City Safety Codes.  For those unfamiliar with this stuff, basically we had to obtain permits just to do simple stuff.  One of the major obstacles we are dealing with is making everything "handicap accessible."  This is actually a huge ordeal and not taken lightly at all by the inspectors.  Just remodeling the restrooms is somewhat of a nightmare due the guidelines we must follow.  A simple example would be, the entrance door must have 36 inches of clearance.  So all in all, following all these rules and going through step by step inspections is really slowing down the entire process.  This was one of the reasons I was leaning towards the original location.  The current location is in a building thats pretty much considered historic and requires a ton of work to get everything up to code.  The other proposed location was already up to date and move-in ready.  You guys don't even want to know how much money is being spent just to get all this done.....  That probably explains why I fought so hard to get into the other spot before giving in and taking this location.  Anyways, just thought I would shed some light on what's causing the delays.  If it was up to me and my crew, the place would be up and running already.  But as it stands, there isn't much more that needs to be done, and we are just following all the rules to ensure we have no problems with the city down the road.

I also announced our tentative weekly tournament schedule on twitter.  We will be running things almost identical to our previous location in terms of tournaments and what not.  Mondays are the only day where we don't currently have anything lined up, but that can always change.  Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays will have some form of Smash Brothers.  Wednesdays and Thursdays will have our usual fighting game line up of Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and possibly Guilty Gear of some sort.  Fridays are saved for old school 2d fighters and casuals, then every other Saturday we will continue to host our bi-weekly Rebel Up Anime Fighters Tournaments.  Also, I'm sure you all noticed that our previous partner has found a new location for his Wednesday night tournaments in Orange County.  This will not change our schedule, and if anything, it will provide another offline location for people to compete.  And since people like to throw jabs here and there, let me just say this.  Before WNF was brought to Super Arcade, there was a reason it bounced from location to location without ever finding a steady home.....  There is also a reason why other tournaments also choose to be run at our spot.  What it all boils down to is what makes sense financially.  I will give props to the eSports Arena though.  That place is huge and has obviously cost a pretty penny to get to their current status.  But I do know from previous ventures that renting out a spot like that is not cheap, and we all know that TOs cannot afford to foot the bill unless the players show up and pay for it through venue fees etc.  With that being said, someone once told me "Business is Business," so let the games begin.  Our Wednesday tournaments will have a very small venue fee, and pending sponsorship, we might waive the venue fee entirely for that day.  Beat that one buddy.  BOOM!

So moving forward, while we are still complying with the city's demands, we are still working out all the kinks and working on other aspects of the business.  When things do finally launch, a huge burden will finally be off my back and we can return to doing what we do best.  Giving the FGC that competitive environment and entertainment that has been missing since we closed.  And on a final note, we do have 4 air conditioners at the new location, and we have 2 restrooms, so go stick that up your butt buddy.

Another final note, in regards to the kickstarter rewards.  We are working with teespring to handle all the t-shirt orders we need to fill.  I will also have custom buttons ready for our tier 1 backers available in store.  If any of you have any questions, feel free to message me through our kickstarter campaign page.  I have been very active there as of late and catching up with all the emails.  Thank you again for your support, and thank you for sticking with us through this entire ordeal.  Oh yeah, and before you read through all this and ask, where is the potential opening date?  We are aiming for October 14th.  Thank you again and talk to you all real soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Latest Update and Status Report of Arcade Situation

So as you all know, we fought for months in attempt to relocated in Azusa at a strip mall known as the Edgewood Center.  I don't really want to go into too much detail regarding this because we are still not locked in for anything yet and anything I say or do might have a negative effect on the outcome.  Anyways, to sum it up, I was in the middle of a political war between the landlord of the property and the entire city.  The place seemed like a great location as it was located near a major street, easy freeway access, tons of parking, and a large space for a decent price.  But once again, no matter what effort we brought to the table, we were not going to win this war.  The good new though, after fighting and pleading our case at two public hearings, the stigma of arcades and the arcade lifestyle has been brought to a new light.  The complete effort made by everyone, via attendees at the hearing, people speaking on our behalf, and even those who posted on various social media, has made a difference and also made me so proud to be part of this great community.  I mentioned it somewhere before, but one of the gentlemen who spoke against us at our first hearing was actually the person who found our new location for us.  This is so huge for many reasons.  Kind of reminds me of a scene where Rocky was just beatdown by Drago then states, "If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!"  Our community has so much heart and it just amazes me that there is no limit to what we can really achieve.  Hell, Evo finally received some mainstream recognition by being on ESPN.  How crazy is that?  But that's a story for another day, so let me continue before my thoughts wander even more.

So I just came to terms with the landlord of the new property, and mind you I am dealing directly with her directly, which is so much easier than having to go through a middle man such as a leasing agent.  She is a very lovely lady with a super positive attitude and is just very easy to work with.  We have discussed our plans with her and she loves what we are bringing to the table.  Her store is not in the greatest of shape, and needs a lot of work, but once the final product is in place it will be incredible.  So here's the process from start to finish.  Find a property, check.  Agree to terms with the landlord, check.  Go apply and pay for required permits, check.  City is required to send out notices allowing all those within 300ft to state their complaints.  This process is something we cannot expedite and the whole reason it takes time to receive a permit.  Now here's what can happen.  If there are no complaints, we are issued a permit and can start work immediately.  If there are any complaints, we must go through a public hearing once again with the same people who denied us twice.  But, that is not a bad thing at this point because all those that were not in favor at the time are on video stating that they, and i quote, "we would love to have you in our city, just not at the Edgewood Center."  With that being said, I am very confident we will have 0 issues as the city planners are being very helpful with the entire process.  This location was hand picked by a council member, it is literally within arms reach of the police station, and there is no drama going on with the landlord.  So based on those facts it is now just a matter of time before we get started on renovations and bring this place back to life.

And for those wondering what happened with the appeal and why we chose a different route, I will explain that briefly.  Taking everything into consideration which includes, cost, time, and possible outcomes, I believe this is the best choice.  The appeal would have cost us over $2,700 for starters, and this would be a one time hearing where the decision would be final.  If we lose this one, it's over and the money is gone.  The hearing for the appeal would also not happen until the first or third week of September because the city council is on break for the month of August.  So wait 4-6 weeks, pay $2,700, and have nothing solid in hand.  Granted we could win the appeal and everything works out, but waiting another month and a half for a maybe just seemed too risky at this point.  Now taking option B, start over in the process, pay for permits to a new location which cost roughly $1,200, and follow through with the whole notifications process, etc etc etc, and wait about 4 weeks as well.  Then if there are any issues we would attend a much easier public hearing if needed and all is done.  So basically this option would allow us to comply with the wants of the city members and we avoiding what they consider a horrible location.  It's much better to have people of the town support you, then force your way into something and have to prove yourself.  I don't want to be under the microscope at the first location and for any reason have my permits revoked over any incident that it not in my control.  This option is the safest, saves money, saves a bit of time, and everyone is at a happy medium.  Maybe things do happen for a reason, and maybe this is the place Super Arcade was meant to be.  Only time will tell and just know that I will never stop until this mission is complete!

Thank you all for reading and I will keep you all updated as things move along.  Here's to a bright future for the So Cal scene and thank you everyone for all the love and support.  It's honestly all of you that makes this entire fight worthwhile and it's the love and passion of this community that keeps me driving this train full speed ahead!  Till next time everyone.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Todays Hearing and Stress

I normally don't stress too much and handle situations pretty well, but the weight of the day is just building way too quickly this morning and I am feeling almost nauseous.  I started writing blogs to give people a sort of behind the scenes look at things, but today is a totally different beast.  I am actually writing this post because I am under so much stress and need an outlet.  I know I posted that my next blog entry would be the last until today's hearing and I apologize for that.  Life just kicks you in the ass sometimes and I am having a very hard time this morning.

To say today's hearing means the world to me would definitely be an understatement.  And I don't want people getting the wrong idea about this post thinking that I'm crumbling before the big show or anything like that.  I just feel like the weight of the entire Socal scene is sitting on my shoulders and I want nothing more than to succeed for the community.  I have dealt with many things in my life and maintained my composure through the most stressful situations.  Funny thing is, I was able to do all this from my experience gained through competitive gaming.  I started my career when at about the age of 15 and the first tournament I entered I faced none other than the person who I consider the best Street Fighter player off all time, Mr Tomo Ohira.  I fondly remember playing him in the Grand Finals and winning the first set 4-3, then losing the final set 4-2.  But these old man tales are for another day and I'll get back to the subject.  Being able to perform to your full potential at all times is a very critical skill in life and very valuable.

Many people deal with the issue of not being able to perform under pressure, and I know there's some Viagra joke I'm missing there but this is a family friendly blog so I'll leave the puns to James Chen.  Anyways, dealing with stress is very tough sometimes and can easily sway your thoughts or even lead to health problems.  I envy the people that are the true leaders in their communities because they deal with stress everyday.  Making decisions for yourself is sometimes tough enough, but when you are making decisions that can affect a large amount of people, this is where things get rough.  I have supported the community known as the #FGC since its birth.  I have loved games since before the days I could even reach the joystick panel.  There is just something magic about video games that is unexplainable and leaves you yearning for more.  But then again I guess the same could be said about crack to a drug addict so it would probably be tough to understand unless you are an avid gamer.

Regardless, I want everyone to honestly know that I am doing all that I can.  I took on a huge responsibility by running a kickstarter and I am doing my best to keep my word.  I hope everyone had a chance to see the last public hearing so you guys have a better idea of what I'm dealing with.  Basically, the fate of the community lies in the hands of people that have a grudge against the property owner and taking it out on me.  I am in a very tough spot but still fighting my heart out to make things work out.  I truly hope tonight goes well, and the funny thing is, I have written about 5 speeches for tonight and will probably use none of them.  There was a guy on r/kappa not too long ago that posted this vid after I was denied back on June 24th : (Rocky Balboa Scene)

I am a huge rocky fan so it was pretty fitting for the mood and in all honesty, I think I might just dump my current speech and go with the "feelings" approach tonight.  Either way, I want to thank you all for being there through this and I am very touched by everyone's effort to help.  I hope to see a bunch of you guys there tonight and let's make this happen. 

Thank You Again For Everything,
M. Watson

Friday, July 10, 2015

Last Post Before Our 2nd Public Hearing

First off, I would like to give thanks to everyone that has been a part of this long journey.  I can't express how much each and every person has helped in motivating me to keep going.  Things obviously haven't been easy and I'm blowing wind now just trying to get to the finish line.  What seemed to be a simple task has now turned into an all out war in a sense.  I have done absolutely everything I can to get this far and it hasn't been enough.  There's been many moments that I have questioned myself and wondered why do I keep doing this, and I truly do hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Many people have helped me along the way and all their efforts, regardless of how big or small, will never be overlooked or forgotten.  I really want to thank everyone once again as you have all made a difference in my life.

Before I started this blog, I was a pretty outgoing person.  I never shied away from people as I was growing up in a time before people had access to the internet.  As a kid I would hang out with friends, ride bikes, play ball, and do things any typical kid would do outside of the house.  Life was obviously a lot simpler as a child and teenager back in the 80's.  There was no such thing as cyber bullying or getting trolled, and people had to face consequences for their actions because there was no keyboard or monitor to hide behind.  And I'm not saying this to put down the younger generation, but I have come across many occasions where I do feel that this new age is not changing things for the better.  Not too long ago, neighborhoods and communities were much more tight knit.  You could walk around your block and you would be familiar with all the residents and be on a first name basis with everyone.  Saying hi to people on the street was a common courtesy and making eye contact while cracking a smile was an everyday occurrence.  I can sit here and go on and on about this, but then people would think that I'm just some senile old man ranting about how things are changing in the world and I can't keep up.  The truth of the matter is this.  The world is now a much smaller place and information is at our fingertips.  There is no limit of knowledge and you can find anything on the web.  But there is one thing that we have and I can't stress it enough.  We still have a "community," and this is the very thing I am fighting to keep alive.  There is nothing that can replace the interactions you have in person while both enjoying the moment of competition, and sharing the time surrounded by people with common interests. 

Anyways, let's not stray from the task at hand.  This coming Wednesday will be the 2nd hearing involving Super Arcade's attempt to receive the proper permits required to operate in the City of Azusa.  The first time around I was definitely not prepared for the battle at hand.  I was blindsided by all the misunderstandings of a community and out dated information that was being presented by the opposing party.  But this time around, lemme tell you, I have a lot in store and have put in many hours coming up with a plan.  I have watched the hearing at least 20 times now and taken very precise notes.  I have done the homework and each and every issue that was brought forth will be addressed.  I really wonder what else they will have in store for us this time at the hearing.  I hope it's my turn to blindside them with a showing of all the support Super Arcade can bring.  I have quite a few people who will be speaking on our behalf from the community and have delegated different topics for each of them to speak on.  As a community, we are very fortunate to have a few arcade owners that care enough about this lifestyle to make a huge effort in being available to speak at our hearing as well.  Huge shoutouts to Doc Mack from Galloping Ghost Arcade, coming all the way out from Illinois, and also Mia and Mark, owners of Neon Retro Arcade right here in Pasadena, California.  Now I just hope that we can fill the auditorium with the rest of the #FGC (fighting game community) and just overwhelm the council with a horde or faithful arcade and gaming fans.

I really don't know what to expect in terms of turnout, but I feel as though some things were said at the last hearing that really irked the gaming community as a whole.  One gentleman was quoted saying "How are video games and an arcade a higher quality of life?"  A council member was quoted saying "High quality does not really fit with games called street fighter and combat."  This opened up a can of worms and offended much of the gaming community outside of just fighting games.  Saying that gaming is not a higher quality of life seems a little ridiculous when put into just a perspective of money.  Just to be able to play these games at home, it costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars just to obtain the proper equipment.  Does your average "hoodlum" or "thug" have the resources to purchase a home gaming console and a couple joysticks adding up to roughly $1,000?  Does your average "lower quality of life gamer" have the means to spends anywhere from $800 to $3,000 on a gaming computer just to play these games that bring a lower quality of life?  It is really obvious what needs to be done to overcome the old stigma of arcades and gaming, and now it's really up to us to present the current facts to the council.  Our main goal is to make sure our points are brought up very directly, and we don't have people repeat themselves over and over.  We need to be well organized, well mannered, and well dressed, and then I believe we will finally be heard and our opinions respected.  If you are available and care enough to make a difference, I ask you to please attend this hearing on Wednesday July 15th at 7:00pm located in the City of Azusa's Civic Auditorium.

Thank You.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Post Meeting Updates and Whats Next?

So as many of you guys know, there was a public hearing on 6/24 at the Azusa Civic Auditorium.  The hearing was to have a city council approve 2 multiple use permits required for me to open Super Arcade in the location I have had reserved since the beginning of April.  I was informed that this was just a basic formality and I should be approved with no problem.  Regardless, I still had my guard up and attempted to prepare for the meeting to the best of my ability.  I was sent an email with the schedule and just worked on a plan on how to defend the arcade culture if any questions were to come up.  Well surprise surprise........  I was denied the permits and oddly enough, it wasn't for the reasons expected.

There was a panel of 5 people who were appointed to represent and make a decision for the city.  Right off the bat, one of the members stepped down and decided to participate as a public civilian to maintain a non-bias in decision making.  I had mixed feelings about this due to the fact that firstly, I just increased my chances by eliminating a negative vote, but then I was also worried that this gentleman felt so strongly about opposing the issue that it might really cause some problems.  Regardless, he was one of the 5 people who spoke out against me.  So for those of you who didn't have time to tune into the live stream, here is a link : Public Hearing City of Azusa 6/24/15

The main arguments against me that evening included some of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.  Just going into the meeting I had an eerie feeling that somehow I was walking into a lose lose situation.  These people that showed up to speak against me were on a first name basis with the council members and obviously attended these meetings many times.  Im not saying that they have nothing better to do, but after hearing their concerns, I believe they are just negative people and just get off thinking they know everything.  The first person to step up complained about the strip mall.  Mind you, she had nothing to complain about in terms of an arcade, just that the location I was trying to occupy was a "retail shopping center" and people coming to shop there would not have anything to look forward to.  She also mentioned that there was a ton of fights, killings, and even a case of rape.  Without mentioning specifics, she stated the owner of the strip mall was not doing the city any favors and it seems as if she just had a vendetta against him.

The second lady to speak against me mentioned that the strip mall has encountered many problems and how they lost their market recently that was located in the mall.  She also stated that "this gentleman thinks its Disneyland here," referring to me obviously, and saying that I'm in for a surprise.  She also spoke on the requirements for having a security on duty and felt that having so much security would scare people away from even coming to the shopping center.  Her closing arguments were that she wanted a "Whole Foods" a "homework center" or a "bike shop" to show up instead of an arcade.

The third person to speak up was the council member who stepped down.  I was extremely interested in hearing what he had to say, since he felt it was worth it for him to step down and speak.  Surprisingly, his main argument was about the restroom.  Apparently, on the blueprints he was looking at, the unit I was trying to lease did not have a restroom.  I would honestly think that it's common sense that every unit includes a restroom.  Hell, theres 8 restrooms upstairs if they really want to get picky.  Anyways, his issue became a complaint that people were urinating in the alley behind the shopping center and hanging around the parking lot.  He then went on to look at the layout I had proposed for the arcade and stated that the "console stations" would be blocking the view of the arcade and people could use these "blind spots" to commit crimes.  Lol?  He doesn't even understand that the console stations are just sit down cubicles and making assumptions.  He then goes on to share his studies he found while attending a library and mentioned an arcade in Seattle where a robbery took place.  His example came from a library and the only thing he could find was an incident that happened in Seattle?  And mind you this incident was at a Game Stop, not an arcade.  So much for this gentleman being prepared.......

On to the fourth lady.  This lady felt that the arcade is going to generate more crimes and more problems for the shopping center that is already dirty.......  She then goes on to tell a story of how she was with her daughter and they drove up to watch a person urinate in the parking lot at that shopping center.  She also states that only having 1 restroom would lead to more of this and was against the arcade.  I have no comment regarding her statements as they pretty much speak for itself.

And onto the final speaker.  This gentleman was actually pretty well spoken and including building codes and what not in his argument.  If you knew nothing about what was going on, you would actually think he was very on point and knew exactly what was going on.  He was the one that complained about the strip mall not following a code of being only 15% non-retail and went on to mention that the new Gym would already swallow up that 15% leaving me with no leeway.  But he did not know that the city approved the Gym to be exempt from this rule so his argument about this was very pointless.  He then goes on to insult gamers.  He states that gaming is not a "high quality of life for any community" and asks the council to reconsider allowing me to open shop.

So after sitting through all this, I am just shocked.  There is no argument I can make about people pissing on the walls, gaming not being a higher quality of life, and a market closing its doors.  I was well prepared to fight tooth and nail on defending arcades, and how we bring people together from all walks of life.  After being blindsided, I spoke up a couple times stating that people hang around due to the fact that the plaza is 50% vacant, and people only hang around the areas where there are no businesses open.  I also stated that the arcade brought in a ton of business for surrounding businesses and we have proof of that.  Another concern was the arcade was bringing criminals, but I stated numerous times that the Azusa Police Department contacted the Walnut/Diamond Bar Sheriff about our history and that came up flawless.  The funny thing is, they were not even listening to me.  Two of the four council members praised me for my efforts but still voted against me, one gentleman was all for opening up an arcade, and the last gentleman said he would love to have an arcade in the city, just not at that particular location.  So that came out to a 3-1 loss and now it's time to regroup and figure out my next step.  After sleeping on it, I wrote an email to the city planners and requested a meeting to discuss the appeal process and see what I could do about this decision.  I received a reply and fortunately I was able to meet up with them this Tuesday so I didn't have to sulk in the sorrows of being denied for too long.

Overall, I feel as though the meeting went well.  This was not a meeting where any ground was to be made in overturning the decision, but it was one where I was able to weigh out my options and figure out what my next step was.  So all in all, on Wednesday July 15th at 7:00pm there will be another public hearing scheduled to make the decision final from the previous meeting.  At this hearing, I will be allowed to once again plead my case and others are welcome to do so as well.  This time around I hope people will show up in full force so that the city can see just how much of a positive impact our community can bring to this town and how we are not the low life scum they have made us out to be.  The landlord and leasing company have an appointment with the city next week and I will have another update.

It is after 3:00am at the moment so I apologize for all the grammatical errors in this post.  I promised to have a blogpost done today and didn't want to leave something unfinished so the product isn't exactly the best.  I also woke up at 7:00am this morning to make sure I was on time to my meeting so I do have a bit of excuse haha.  Thanks again for reading and talk to you all again soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Todays Results And An Important Hearing on 6/24

So for those of you who are following up on what exactly is going on, I am still going through all the hurdles of gaining a business license in the City of Azusa.  Paperwork was confirmed to prove that our location would not bring the strip mall to greater than 15% non-retail use space.  This is the good news.  The bad news is that now we are waiting to appear at the next city council meeting that is to be held on 6/24 at 7:00pm.  The only reason this is bad news is because Evo is right around the corner and this sets us back another 2 weeks.  Originally it was scheduled to be 4 weeks from the day, but with a little luck we were able to get penciled in for the next meeting.  The people at City Hall have been extremely helpful and courteous, but they have a very specific protocol that has to be followed so we are just a victim of their excessive thoroughness.  Can't blame them obviously and I am just doing my part to keep things moving along.

Going to cut things very short as I just wanted to put it out there that a public hearing will be taking place and any of you can attend if you like.  This will hopefully be the last step and I can open ASAP once its done.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates.  Also, thank you to everyone who spent the time to send out positive tweets to The City of Azusa, as I'm sure this is the first time they have seen that much activity directed towards them.  Good work FGC!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Long Awaited Day and Some More Info

So there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the reopening of the arcade and last week I announced that there will be a major hurdle we needed to get over.  There will always be people who have nothing to do and try to rip you apart at any opportunity, and with a person like me, that has been very open about everything related to the arcade, this type of thing is expected.  So to set things straight once again, I am going to post some pictures that reinforce everything I have said up until this point.  You might ask why I am going through all this and providing all this info and bringing everything out in the open.  Well, I have been very open from the start, and with the Kickstarter and support of our local scene, this is the best I can do.

First off, let me post the email from the city planner stating that June 4th was the date I was waiting for :

The first part of the email is just to show that is it in fact a letter sent from an official employee of the city of Azusa, and the second email shows his comment about the 4th.

Here is a picture of the cover sheet for my lease :
And another page with the date once again showing when I first started this transaction :
And another sheet showing the deposit and total I paid to get in the place :
For some reason people think it's just that easy to start a new business and there is no way it can take this long.  Well guess what?  It does take this long and just when you think you are finished...... BOOM! another problem and another problem and another problem.  All I can do is keep moving forward and provide the city with everything they request.  Here is a photo of the receipt for 2 business permits I already paid for :
And here is a final photo of the insurance I purchased for the location :

So just to make things 100% clear.  Just from loooking at the pictures and matching up the dates, the lease was signed almost 2 months ago on April 7th.  The business permit was paid in full back on May 5th, and the insurance was taken care of back on May 7th.  I have been ready to get rolling since then just stuck in limbo at this time.  This is not the fault of anyone as paperwork and approvals always take a long time regardless of where you go.  I have done my part and handled everything up until now and here is the news you guys have been waiting for.  So as stated in my previous post, we were waiting on all businesses with a 300ft radius to reply to the notices they were sent.  The good news is that none came back negative but........ and there is always a but......  there is a stipulation in that only 15% of the plaza can be used as "non-retail."  What does this mean?  Well, we will be offering retail in a small section of our unit, but the real issue here is that since there is a new gym opening up next year and it is considered "non-retail" as well, there is a slight problem.  I have already contacted the landlord and the leasing agent as they are both very familiar with all the city officials and from the feedback I have been getting, this should not be a problem and should be resolved by next week.  I am just keeping my fingers crossed, as I have already come this far and there is no turning back!  Another update will be coming real soon so stay tuned.  I am doing all I can and would love nothing more than to have a fully functioning establishment for everyone to attend.  Thanks for reading and talk to you guys again real soon!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Final Step and Plans Moving Forward!

It seems as though it's been forever since Super Arcade was last open.  These past 6 months have been very constructive in both my personal life and the arcade moving forward.  There has been many ups and downs along the way but the light at the end of the tunnel is now here.  Many assumptions have been made so I would like to set things straight one last time before we do open our doors for business.  Some people seem to think that it is a very simple process in obtaining a business license to open an "coin-op arcade."  That in itself it a feat but fortunately the City of Azusa was willing to work with me and understanding that arcades of today are not what they used to be.  The application for obtaining a permit to run this business isn't your typical type of ordeal where you just pay your fees and get your permit.  Every business within a 300ft radius is sent out a notice where they have a chance to refuse our application.  If this happens, a board meeting at City Hall will take place and the issue will be discussed further.  If no one objects, then we are free and clear and our permit will arrive in the mail.  The only problem with this process is that not everyone will return the notice with their approval, but they are granted an allotted time frame to make their decision.  This is the entire hold up and the deadline is June 4th.  As of today there are no objections and I am just sitting here waiting for the day to come.

The good news is that all the ground work for the rest of things has already been handled and we will be ready to launch within days of receiving the proper paperwork.  Another thing I have noticed is people are now complaining that the new location looks like nothing has been done to it.  Well guess what?  You are correct!  Now let me explain the reasoning behind this so those that are uneducated and quick to jump to conclusions can rest there simple little minds.  I have a contingency clause in my lease that states "If for any reason I do not receive my permits and licensing required, a full refund of all deposits will be returned."  So basically, why would I move in and start getting charged rent before I get my license?  Enough money has been wasted and now it's just a matter of time to get things done.  Another thing that some people don't get it that I released the address to the location so that people can come check out the area and also make plans for their future attendance.  Lease and deposit paid?  check.  Insurance requirements fulfilled and completed?  check. Equipment ready to move in?  check. 

It won't take much time to get everything up and running once I start so hang in there guys.  I have lost enough sleep from being both worried and excited to get this fresh start.  There will also be a couple more surprises that will be announced in the next coming week or so.  I am currently in negotiations to bring in another business that will benefit not only myself but also our patrons.  The new shop is going to be awesome and its really exciting just thinking about all the possibilities.  Double the space, integrated store with all your FGC needs, many more pinball and arcade machines, and a larger dedicated tournament area.  Not sure what else we can do, but the future looks great.  Thanks for reading everyone and see you all here soon!

Mike Watson.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Its Been A Long Ride But We Are Almost There!

Lame joke for you FGC stream viewers :

What's longer than a "We'll Be Right Back" break during a stream at a major event? .......
The break Mike Watson took from running Super Arcade.

Sillyness aside, its been a long time since Super Arcade was up and running and I am so happy we are finally able to begin renovations again.  I can honestly say that I never had a doubt I was going to reopen, but that doesn't mean it was all fun and games for the past 5 months.  The funniest thing is, the most stressful moment in all of this was signing the lease.  You would think it would be more of a monkey off your back type of ordeal, but when you are making such a huge commitment, it's never easy.  I have basically signed on to be at this location for 2 years and there's no turning back now!  I just hope I can provide the same, if not a better experience, for all our loyal patrons and tournament attendees.

I would also like to thank everyone that sent me positive messages since we closed and provided me with motivation to keep things going.  I'm not gonna sit here and give you the typical "I do this for you" speech, but I will tell you that I am going to continue doing this as long as I can because I love the community and want others to have the same great experience I enjoyed over the life of my gaming career.  I have already posted some "before" photos of our new location on our Instagram account and it's receiving a lot of good feedback so far.  This place is HUGE to say the least.  I know 5 months seems like a long time, but when you are searching for something that has to be perfect, it's never an easy task.  As previously mentioned, we finally had to close the doors to our walnut location due to the fact that the rent was way too high, and we essentially out grew the space.  This new location provides just about everything we needed and more.  Larger venue, cheaper rent, more parking, easy freeway access, and 5, yes 5 air conditioning units to keep the place nice and cool during those crazy 100+ man tournaments!  The only negative we have at the moment is that we cannot stay open till the crazy late hours of the morning like we used to.  At least not yet.........  We are under a probationary period for the first couple months so I am asking for everyone to please follow the rules.

Super Arcade is the new kid on the block and much attention will be paid to us during this time.  The Azusa Police Department was on the fence in the first place to allow an arcade to open in their city, but with a little nudging and kind words from the Walnut/Diamond Bar Sheriff's Department we are being given a chance.  This was also a big reason for the delays in finding a new location.  Regardless, we now have our foot in the door and I plan to make the most of it.  We will also have a security guard on location so be on your best behavior!

Anyways, just wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know what's going on.  It is a really exciting time for myself and hopefully for the SoCal FGC.  Much more news to come soon as I am working with many people to make the new Super Arcade bigger, better, longer, and un............ I mean awesome!  It's hard not to let the cat out the bag but I am also working on having a very special guest for our grand opening (not a gamer from Japan or anything like that fwiw.)  Had to give you guys a little cliffhanger so guess away!  Talk to you all again real soon and thanks for following up on our progress!

Mike Watson

Monday, March 9, 2015

They Said it Was Impossible.......

I will be the first to admit that I was feeling very down and out during the month of December.  There were a lot of contributing factors and I was even feeling as though I had fallen almost into a state of depression.  2014 seemed like such a good year for Super Arcade and in about 3 months time, things just started to spiral out of control.  I obviously take full responsibility for everything that has happened and have learned from all these mistakes.  The roller coaster ride has been insane to say the least, and life has had many ups and downs during this time.  Before I launched our kickstarter campaign towards the middle of the year I was at a point where I felt like I had done all I could to pay the community back for all the great times it has brought to my life.  I was drained physically, mentally, and financially.  Now people seem to think that I ran this fundraiser for selfish reasons and did it for my own personal interests and gain.  Funny thing is, after the kickstarter was a success, I wound up putting even more of my own personal money into the business in attempts to make things that much better for our patrons.  I have spent countless hours trying to clarify many things and going on various forums to reply to just about every single comment or questions that was brought forth.  I already know its an endless battle to try to satisfy those that feel that they should know everything even though they bring absolutely nothing to the table.  Yet I still feel like by answering their questions I am probably answering questions that many people would like to know, so the effort is not wasted.  I am also not your typical business owner and constantly get flamed for being myself, but hey, that's okay because I am doing what I love and doing it my way.  I am accessible to everyone at almost anytime and I have never backed down from any claims or accusations.  This is something that I am very proud of, and although it might be the path to my eventual downfall I did not put up a front or "sell-out" just to appease my peers and community.  I wish I could say the same for many people who are the so-called leaders at this time.....

Regardless, let's get into the subject that most of you are here for: Our new location!  We are still going through the normal stages of applying for a "minor use permit" which is required to run this type of business in the city.  The standard wait time ranges from 4 to 6 weeks for this permit and basically is the only thing left to complete so we can get started.  I have already chosen a location and without revealing too much, this place is guaranteed to impress.  Lemme rephrase that, this place is guaranteed to impress our customers.  Just as anything else, there will always be people that talk a bunch of nonsense or try to stir the pot negatively no matter what the situation.  It's so bad to the point that people who aren't even local are complaining that it is too far from here, or too far from there, when the reality is that the City of Azusa neighbors the City of Walnut and the new location is literally less than 8 miles from our previous one.  In my last blogpost I stated my requested requirements and people thought I was crazy.  Now that I was in the driver's seat and able to negotiate what I wanted, I felt like there was a ton of leeway and it's not like people are looking to open new businesses everyday during this economic crisis.  My requests were for a venue with at least 3,000 square feet, 40-50 parking spots, allows us to stay open late hours, and also a cheaper lease.  Well guess what to you all naysayers?  I won't say exactly how big the place is, but its larger than the old location, and when i say larger I don't mean like 100-200 feet larger...... I MEAN ITS FRIGGIN HUGE!  And for the parking, lets just say this place has more than adequate parking to host a tournament the size of EVO!  And for the ability to stay open late?  There are 24 hour restaurants and businesses already at this location so this is definitely not a problem!  And for the rent........  I let it publicly be known that we were paying over $6,000 a month for the old lease.  With the current negotiations and a bit of luck, I will have a new lease that is under $5,000 a month for a location I feel is better suited for everyone.  Sometimes things don't go well, and many times things just don't go as planned.  This was obviously the case when I couldn't stay at our original location but with a ton of effort and dedication, I truly feel the new location will bring many more endless hours of enjoyment and competition for community and will satisfy everyone's appetite when they continue to look for the experience that Super Arcade brought to the scene.

The bottom line here is this.  Mistakes were made, I have learned from them, and in past 2 months I was able to take a step back and think about things from a whole different perspective.  I was also able to get a grip on my personal life and enjoy the company of my family and friends.  But this is also the time I realized that Super Arcade was not just a part of my life, it had become much more than that.  I felt as though I was in a position to provide and help a community grow, and I was given the trust and support by this community to do something bigger than you, or me, or anyone one person.  I was given this opportunity to help people do what they enjoy, and offer people a playground during a time where arcade's are basically non-existent.  And as dumb as it may sound, I could be a hero and continue to enjoy the many things that a community like the FGC and arcade life can bring to people, and all this generates the motivation needed to drive me to work hard for my friends, my family, and my community.  I promise to dedicate myself to the great people who built and continue to support this community, and with all my efforts I can only hope that people will be as enthusiastic and find enjoyment from something that I truly have dedicated this part of my life to.  Thank you all for reading and stay tuned for more updates and possible some pictures in the next post!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Doing What You Love And Completing What We Started

Hello again everyone and thank you all for continuing to read and have interest in what's going on with Super Arcade and myself.  It has been a very long road with a ton of ups and downs to say the least.  As most of you know we closed our previous location on December 22, 2014 and are still currently looking for a new home.  Now I know a ton of people are out there wondering why things are taking so long, and wondering what might be holding up everything, so I am finally available to explain and it all.  Firstly, I have dedicated myself to this career and basically put everything else in life on hold.  I have a family and a home that needed attention and working 80 hours a week doesn't do wonders for my own health.  The good news is that I have a very understanding wife and she knows this is what I love doing and is also a huge contributing factor towards my motivation.  Now that I have caught up in a sense and I have her support in moving forward I can give it my full attention and get this place up and running again.

As for a new location there are a few really important requirements :
  • Size : 3,000 sq/ft minimum
  • Parking : We require roughly 40-50 parking spots
  • Hours : Must have no issue with us being open till 3am
  • Cost : Looking for a lease under $4500/month
And even if I were to find a spot that would accommodate all our needs, the most important factor was reaching out to the players and community that supported us from the start.  I contacted many people and was happy to hear that once we reopened they would be more than happy to attend our tournaments and location once again.  I also know I created a splash with the so called "illuminati" of the Fighting Game Community and I still refuse to conform to their obscene goal to monopolize and suck money out of the fans.  Many viewed this as a problem and believed it created a divide.  I believe it shows people we can still stand up for what we believe and we don't have to fit the cookie cutter mold that is being shoved down our throats.  We do not need to be Esports, we do not need to spend $50 or more to "spectate" a tournament, and we do not have to play or enjoy only the games that are being promoted by the big wigs.  Look at it this way, just a few years ago I recall the head of the biggest console gaming tourney in the world saying Smash Bros was not a fighting game, yet this year they are hosting 2 versions of it.  Who's the money hungry cash grabbing cow now?  We can and will continue to do what we do and support our own player base and continue to stream and cater to those who are fans of our particular style.  And I understand that since I am so open about everything I will attract a ton of criticism, but that's okay because at the end of the day I see many people who walk in and out of here with a genuine smile and appreciation for what my staff and I provide to them.  And that makes it all worth while.

I want to also address the locals who showed up weekly to our establishment.  I'm sorry to those of you who frequented our location and had no where to go for the past 6 weeks as I too was looking for some sort of peace during my unpleasant times.  This is when I honestly realized I needed the arcade for myself as much as anyone else because this is what I love doing.  And now that I have made mistakes and failed in some areas, I know how to improve and I will be back stronger.  I just hope all our loyal fans will return and also hope we can bring in a new wave of players to experience everything we have to offer. Thank you for having faith in me and keep checking for updates because there are going to be a lot of them coming soon.  Thanks again for reading and hope to see and talk to everyone real soon!

Miss you all,