By Dustin Shrader
Step into the warm zone. Wednesdays at Heretic open wide for gay gamers playing video games nonstop in the spot you may associate more with dancing queens.
The Heretic is no longer just a weekend hotspot, and forget it if you still think that video-gaming isn’t only for straight boys. Thanks to Warp Zone Wednesday, you can now get your “gayme” on with scores of like-minded gays and more than one joystick in a setting other than your living room.
Debuting back in August, Warp Zone has become a popular must-do event, a fun haven for anyone who loves a ballin’ atmosphere, a strong drink and a night full of their favorite video games.
WZ’s cofounders, Herb Hallas and Tony Hall, are educating the masses about why Heretic is the place to be on Wednesday nights for the boys who love all things virtual. They took time to let us in on the weekly fun with insights into themselves as the guys behind the event.
What got you started in gayming?
Herb: I’ve always been a gamer, starting out with Atari as a kid. I’m only 30-years-old, but I remember systems dating all the way back. I’m the youngest of my siblings, and they would pass down all these older systems, which I grew to love.
Tony: I’ve always been around video gaming. Every week I would get my allowance and be given a choice of the arcade or the movie theater. The arcade was a no-brainer. That money would be spent in 30 minutes.
How did Warp Zone Wednesday come to fruition?
Herb: I used to run a game night out of my house when I lived in Ohio. I did it for about 43 weeks in a row. We had seven screens and potlucks. It was amazing!
When I moved back to Atlanta, I realized there’s nothing going on like that. So I thought it would be really cool if there was a bar and they had a bunch of systems setup, so everyone with the same interests could come, drink and play.
There are a lot of gay gamers who don’t really have a place to go. On any night of the week they are probably, like myself, at home gaming alone and not hanging out with anyone. I started talking to Alan [Collins at Heretic], and Tony and was like, “Let’s do something. Let’s make a place for them.”
And that became Warp Zone Wednesdays.
Tony: I had a friend years ago who used to refurbish game consoles and would donate them to dentist’s offices for kid’s entertainment. When I started bartending for Heretic, I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be fun if I hooked up one of those Xboxes my friend refurbished?’ I started talking to customers and fellow dorks about the idea and they were all for it.
A mutual friend of ours Brian Weathers introduced Herb and I, from that moment Warp Zone was born.
So what exactly is Warp Zone Wednesday?
Herb: WZ is open to the public every Wednesday from 7 p.m. – 3 a.m. We have 12 screens and everything from Atari to Ps4s. I have been collecting games for years. It is almost kind of a weird obsession but has actually helped out with this a lot.
Tony: You come in, sit down, grab a drink. You can watch the big wall of games or pick up a controller and play. If there’s something we don’t have you’re more than welcome to bring it along.
Herb: Some people bring baked goods. We have snacks for sale. There’s nothing really happening on Wednesdays, so it is a nice upper in the middle of the week.
What has the reception been like?
Herb: It has been a joint effort altogether. There’s always a crowd, and it’s nice to have all the gays come out, get off the couch and play games with us.
Tony: It is growing every week. We’re even hosting a birthday party! WZ isn’t just a hangout, but it’s also perfect for large gatherings and special occasions.
Anything you’d like to add?
Herb: We would both like to thank Brian Weathers, Terrence Ng and Lucas Simms who have all been instrumental in the success of Warp Zone Wednesday. And of course Alan Collins for having an open mind and creating a space for us to game!
Warp Zone takes place each Wednesday at the Heretic, 7 p.m. For weekly updates, check the Warp Zone Wednesday Facebook page.