First NI arena for local gamers opens in Craigavon

Gamers play at 'BELONG
Gamers play at 'BELONG
  • Games room with consoles, VR headsets and high-tech gaming PCs
  • Aim to bring competitive video gaming to NI
  • Recruiting for Craigavon Kestrels - a club for players of all levels

A new arena dedicated to ‘gaming’ has opened in Craigavon - the first in Northern Ireland.

At the GAME store in Rushmere the first BELONG arena opened this week.

As well as the seating for 12 players there is a room for one player on the HTC Vive at the front of the store.

Craigavon proved an obvious choice for the UK-wide GAME brand.

A spokesperson said: “We wanted to get a site in NI as soon as possible and with Craigavon being of ideal size, with free parking, local amenities and late night opening it was the obvious choice.

“Our team in Craigavon have an incredibly engaged community with the store manager even winning “Store Manager of the Year” by the gaming industry magazine MCV this year.”

The idea is to bring local competitive video gaming to the area and provide a cutting-edge, dedicated space for gamers to play with friends, compete in tournaments, enjoy gaming nights and celebrate new games.

The state-of-the-art facility boasts an array of the very latest tech; including consoles, VR headsets and high-tech gaming PCs.

“Alongside themed gaming nights each week, high octane tournaments and special events throughout the year, BELONG Craigavon will mark the most advanced setting for Northern Irish video game fans – both young and old – to meet, play and hang out,” said the spokesperson.

GAME Craigavon has also partnered with local soccer team Glenavon for the launch, opening a GAME Community Room at Mourneview Park for fans to enjoy the latest games free of charge.

Eddie Drury, Director at Glenavon FC, said: “BELONG will bring our fans the perfect outlet to perfect their skills while socialising with friends and enjoying new tech.”

GAME launched BELONG in late 2016. It aims to support competitive gaming at a grassroots level with 12 arenas now open at locations around the UK including London, Bristol, Manchester, Portsmouth and Gateshead. The competitive gaming (or ‘esports’) industry is growing quickly, with 6.5 million people in the UK participating every year.

The Craigavon arena will be recruiting for the Craigavon Kestrels, with local players of all levels encouraged to get involved with the tribe and help build their local gaming community.

Paul Mulholland, BELONG Manager at GAME Craigavon said: “Following the enormous success of BELONG since it was launched, it’s fantastic that it’s coming to Northern Ireland. The rise in tech over the past couple of years has only been matched by the rise in esports. BELONG seamlessly brings them together in a perfect gaming environment for our community.”

Prices range from £3 for an hour’s gaming to a full day costing £25, players can try out the latest VR headsets for £5 for 10 mins, with the cost being deducted from the price of the headset if it’s then purchased.

BELONG is also available for event hires, acting as a perfect venue for anything from birthday to work parties, with a number of events during school holidays.