Emily J. Sullivan
Tucked into the corner of a La Verne shopping center, 404 E-Sport Gaming is a veiled haven for gamers.
Sandwiched between Mi Ranchito and Tastee’s Donut & Bagels sits a business with completely blacked out windows. A neon-lit “Open” sign and a few gaming posters including a “Fortnite, Battle Royal” poster bring splashes of color to the exterior of this hidden gem for PC computer game lovers.
Terry Tang and Simon Wang, owners of 404 E-Sport Gaming, immigrated from China to America in 2006. The two met while learning to speak English in after-school classes in 2006 and have been friends ever since. Back in China, they did not know each other but both loved gaming. While America allows all ages into gaming cafes like 404 E-Sport Gaming, China requires that patrons meet a minimum age of 18.
“In China, I was underage so I had to sneak into a local gaming cafe and play for an hour here and there around lunch time,” said co-owner of E-Sport Gaming Terry Tang. “Here all ages can come in. We have really young players that are only five and we have older players, like one of our regulars is a Korean man in his 40’s or 50’s. As long as you can play the game, you’re welcome.”
Fifteen-year-old Ray Gonzalez does chores at home to earn enough money to come and play as often as he can.
“It’s only $3 an hour so I save and then walk over here from Bonita High School when I get out of class. I usually come to play Fortnite and I come maybe twice a week for a couple hours,” Gonzalez said.
404 E-Sport Gaming is stocked with mouth-watering munchies and beverages. Some of the snacks they offer are special Chinese flavors of Lays Potato Chips, including a cucumber flavor and a numb and spicy hot pot flavor. There are 45 PC Computers and cushy gaming chairs lining the interior walls and forming rows down the center.
Wang said that business has been better than he and co-owner Tang had anticipated, but they are still waiting for it to reach its full potential.
Wang said the sanctioned Fortnite tournaments are a huge draw for customers. The prizes for these tournaments rang from $2,000 to sometimes $50,000 cash. Also, rare in-game items are given out to participants of the tournaments at the events sanctioned by Epic Games.
“E-Sport Gaming is making gaming more social and personal for gamers,” Wang said.
Steve Clune was lounging in the front seating area, serving as the chaperone to a gaming party that was going on toward the back of the shop.
“My son’s birthday is tomorrow so I brought he and his friends down for a little party,” Clune said. “I think the place is a great idea. I’m certain my son will be persuading his mom to bring him back in the near future.”
“This is my first time here and I think it’s really cool,” said 14-year-old Jackson Clune. “The concept is so cool. I love playing games like Overwatch and Left For Dead, I definitely want to come back.”
404 E-sport Gaming is located at 1447 Foothill Blvd. and is open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Emily J. Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.