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'Gamer' does not have to be synonymous with 'hermit'


Gaming has long been considered to be a very anti-social activity. Even console games that allow for a 2nd player, the most you can do is have a friend or two over who really just bicker over whose turn it is to play. And PC gaming, well, aside from the obvious enjoyment you get from standing over someone's shoulder telling them what a noob they are, there's really nothing social about it. Maybe this is why parents have such an avid dislike for gaming of all genres and tend to use it as an excuse for why your brain is rotting. Seriously, we all know the truth behind rotting grey matter has nothing to do with pwning non-leetz and is in fact a direct result of contact with lima beans and brussel sprouts. Regardless, the 'P's have a point when they say you need to get out and socialize more.

Games have made quite a breakthrough with MMORPGs and online first person shooters in which you can interact with other players in a social-like setting; albeit a virtual one, and in-game chat programs or software like Ventrilo even make it possible to put a baritone voice to the hot blood elf you're flirting with. But even with all the technology available to make your gaming experience as real life as possible, something is still missing. Yep, real life.

Enter the LAN center. A cyber cafe with high-end gaming machines dedicated to geekdom socialization. Imagine a place where you belong, where others of your kind hang out; talk to each other; game together; tease, raz and otherwise lovingly insult your hard-earned online rank in crouch and shoot (also known and Counter Strike). It's like Cheers for nerds; everybody knows your names (your real one and your online persona), and everyone speaks your language. When will Leet Speak be recognized as a bi-lingual talent anyway?

Wonderland does exist after all, and may be closer than you think. Though few and far between, Aurora has its very own warm-blooded, heavy-breathing, honest-to-goodness, bona fide Gaming Center. Located on Prairie between Prisco's Next Door and Prairie Cleaners sits Digital Arena, the portal to a world where you can game and socialize at the same time. Even your parents are sure to love this place.

Equipped with Valve games from Steam Cafe, Digital Arena offers the serious gamer opportunities for friendships to blossom, even while hunting them through the Middle Eastern setting of DUST.