After increased competition in recent years, the video arcade in the Mountainlair is no more.
The arcade, which was located in the basement near the Lair’s bowling alley, was removed in mid-October due to a lack of use from students, said Mark Wise, assistant director of operations for the Mountainlair.
“Prior to that, we had noticed not a lot of usage — [the removal] had to do with usage,” Wise said. “Maintenance was marginal on the equipment, but the biggest thing was it just wasn’t being used.”
Wise attributed the lack of usage to the rise of handheld devices, such as iPhones, the Nintendo Switch and others that are constantly at people’s fingertips. The removal of the arcade also closes a chapter of WVU history, as the arcade had been there since the opening of the Mountainlair in 1968, Wise said.
“I think what we’ve seen over time is a lot of students and people have their own gaming equipment at their disposal, and so the arcade is really a tough business to be in right now because of all the other options you have.”
Despite being intended as an area for students to relax and hang out, the decision to remove the video arcade was made without student input. According to Wise, the decision was made by the Mountainlair’s administration, who did not seek the student body’s opinion.
Now, with the arcade games gone, the space is occupied by tables and chairs, which are intended to alleviate the lack of seating often found in the building.
This, however, is only a temporary fix.
Wise and the Mountainlair administration are looking into other uses for the space, which Wise wants to keep entertainment-themed, and intend to remove the tables and chairs as they were only a “stopgap” for the space.
A possible use for the space is turning it into a student lounge, Wise said. Televisions could be hung on the walls and couches could be brought in for seating, but there is no timetable for the possible project.
For now, the space will be used as is, but the administration is open-minded and willing to listen to ideas for the future of the Mountainlair Games Area.
“We’ll take input from people that come down there,” Wise said. “Maybe there’s things they’d like to see — I certainly encourage student input. If there’s something they’d like to see or a different way of using that space, we’re certainly open to all those suggestions.”