Prince William Living wants to take a closer look at Economic Development, so we are launching a new series, “Why Prince William?” We recently interviewed Stephen Theobald of Tech Time Gaming to find out why he chose Prince William County for his innovative business.
What prompted you to start your business?
After selling my last business in another industry, I was looking around for my next idea. Two things prompted me to start Tech Time. First, I noticed that my kids, and many others, loved to watch others play video games on outlets like Twitch and YouTube, and I noticed professional esports players were being broadcast on TV. I attended an esports investing panel discussion, and my eyes were opened to how big the industry was getting. OK, and I happen to be a video game fan from my childhood days with Atari.
How would you describe your business in three sentences?
Tech Time is a modern-day arcade, a clubhouse where gamers can hang out with their friends and play their favorite video games in a cool high-tech environment with nice equipment and a super-fast internet connection. We cater to both casual and serious gamers alike, with events ranging from birthday parties to cash prize tournaments. We are Prince William County’s e-sports destination.
Why did you choose to locate your business in Prince William County?
In a word, zoning. My first choice was to locate in Fairfax County because of its denser population and proximity to my home, but the zoning laws there limited where I could locate the business without spending a lot of cash and time securing a variance. Prince William County’s zoning environment is much more accommodating, and our specific location, in a shopping center on Route 1 with great visibility from the highway, is terrific.
What has your experience been?
To be honest, our grand opening in November 2018 did suffer from some technical glitches, but looking back, I guess that with a project of this technical complexity, it was not surprising. From then on, the experience has been good. I love to see people’s jaws drop when they come in for the first time, especially the kids’. Gamers love that they now have an option much closer to their homes than Fairfax. Our biggest challenge has been one common to many new businesses: getting the word out that we’re here. It’s funny, a lot of people see our storefront sign from the highway and think we’re a casino. We had to put out a sandwich board sign in front of our store to explain that we’re not a casino but an arcade.
What have been some major accomplishments/milestones in your business?
Our facility includes a tournament stage where up to 12 players (two teams of six) can play matches while others watch. We were honored when the Alliance Gaming League chose our facility to host their national championship events. Those events and other tournaments we have hosted have brought us more interest from other tournament organizers and gamers generally. Our last Call of Duty tournament brought in players from as far away as New Jersey. We make heavy use of social media and broadcast many of our events on Twitch, and these activities do much to spread awareness of Tech Time around the region.