Mark and Maggie Cuneo may be classical musicians, earning their masters degrees at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, but they also know how to throw a party -- especially when video games are involved.
Mark, a bassist, and Maggie, a cellist, most recently lived in Portland, Oregon, where their video-game parties were the stuff of legend, to hear them tell the tale.
“Contrary to what people might think, classical musicians can totally party,” Mark said.
“It was great, going until three in the morning,” added Maggie.
Along with their own gaming parties, their five years in the Northwest included nights out at Esports and gaming lounges, including Outrage in Portland, where gamers gather to drink, play and watch live national or international games.
When Mark and Maggie returned to Rapid City, where they graduated from Stevens High School in 2007, they brought with them the gaming lounge concept that became more than virtual reality with this weekend’s opening of Overclock, an Esports Lounge at 4095 Sturgis Road.
The lounge’s name refers to the term for deliberately hopping up a laptop computer’s speed by altering its central processing unit and memory settings to make it more competitive for gaming purposes.
Overclock patrons are welcome to come and watch as well as play. A portion of the lounge is arranged like a living room or downstairs rec room, with couches and flat-screen TVs equipped with PlayStation and X-Box games.
The intensity can ramp up at banks of computers with large monitors and high-backed gaming chairs, virtual-reality areas with plenty of room to move, and a long table where patrons can play on their own laptops.
“On any given day, the TV’s on with a game, and they can come watch,” Mark said. “But if you want to watch live play, that will be happening in front of you as well.”
“It’s very much split between playing and spectating,” Maggie said.
Overclock’s décor is aimed at the adult gamer, eschewing the younger crowd’s black-painted walls and neon and LED-lighted glitz in favor of a more rustic feel.
Stacks of recycled wood pallets have been used to transform one room into a medieval tavern atmosphere that pays homage to the classic Dungeons & Dragons game of the 1990s.
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“We’re trying to reach out and do something more for adults,” Mark said. “Something that the older gamers would appreciate.”
An Esports and gaming lounge is a far cry from the building’s linage, as the longtime location of a hardscrabble working-man’s roadhouse called the Buck-N-Gator.
The Buck-N-Gator underwent a well-documented makeover for the reality TV show American Roadhouse in 2013, changing its name to The Outpost before closing in October 2015.
The building had been looking for a new tenant since and turned out to be the perfect off-the-beaten-path location for Overclock, said Mark and Maggie and her father, Daniel Byers.
Gamers, said Byers, are looking for a place out of the mainstream.
“They want a place like their basement, a place to go hide out and continue to do gaming, but also a place to come together,” he said. “This is an ideal location, good parking, good lighting, good security, a place for people to come.”
In time they plan to add a food menu, but for now Overclock will serve coffee, beer, wines and — with another nod to its medieval vibe — mead, an ancient concoction created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops.
However, the serious gamer’s beverage of choice is energy drinks, Mark said.
“Gamers want to stay focused,” he said.
There are plans in the works to collaborate with the South Dakota School of Mines Esports varsity team, which participates in intercollegiate gaming tournaments throughout the school year.
Wyatt Engel, Mines Esports coordinator, said Overclock could help Mines stage Esports tournaments coming up this year, including a convention in November involving eight college teams.
“I’m limited with the numbers of computers I have, so it is pretty nice to have another business with the same goals in mind,” Engel said. “They have the equipment to help facilitate competitions.
Overclock’s hours are Sunday through Thursday, noon to 10:30 p.m., and noon to midnight on Friday and Saturday.