Local man pursues gamer dreams

March Madness takes on a new meaning at the Game Over Lounge in Rochester Hills this month.  

Rather than a month focused on basketball, the lounge is focused on a different assortment of games, mainly Xbox games.

 Located at 1524 E. Auburn Rd., Game Over officially opened on Dec. 15, 2009. 

 During March, owner Constantin Carstea, or as many know him, Toon, is running an all-day, “all you can play” gamer pass for $10, or offering guests four free hours of gaming time for every four hours purchased, to be used at a later time.

 Carstea, 30, said he had been thinking about opening a video game lounge since 2003 when he owned an auto detailing shop. 

 Carstea was later co-owner of Detroit Deli, a Beverly Hills sandwich shop where he kept the idea of a game lounge on the back burner.

 “I decided this is not what I want to do; sat down, drew ideas but TVs weren’t what they are now, it was more expensive then,” he said. 

Carstea plans to have Natal available at Game Over.

Project Natal is a controller-free, interactive gaming system to be released for the 2010 holiday season.  

  For game enthusiasts everywhere, the intrigue of Xbox Project Natal might be stronger than any other game experience. 

  “It’s for those noncouch potatoes,” Carstea said.  He is not certain which games in particular but plans to have at least six units of Xbox Natal running for customers at the lounge.

 The Game Over crowd ranges from 13 to 22 years of age and different times of the day attract different age groups. 

 To ensure a safe environment, Carstea has implemented a live-feed Internet surveillance that any parent can access on the lounge website. Other safety precautions include a photo ID card for every gamer as well as a permission slip for younger guests.

 Carstea says that some have speculated that his game lounge is “a nuisance” and that it is an arcade. 

 “It’s more like a media center type of deal … an interacting lounge,” he said.

 Since opening day, Carstea has already become buddies with some of his regular gamers, which he said is a perk and part of running a small business.

  He said that running Game Over is a bit tricky, especially in the economy because unlike the food industry, a gaming lounge is not a necessity.

 He said business owners can’t seek instant gratification because “it doesn’t happen overnight.” 

 “There are no sick days. You have to work twice as hard,” he said. He also believes prospective business owners should expect to spend three or four times the cost planned for “because of the mistakes you will make.”

 “If the sun doesn’t shine tomorrow, stick it out until the next day when it does,” he said. “That’s why a lot of people fail, because they don’t plan to succeed.”

 Since the game lounge is located across the street from Reuther Middle School, Game Over has hosted a student council event, as well as passed out reward cards for free gaming hours for student achievements. 

 Carstea has also donated funds to the Reuther Middle School choir for “Holiday Helpers.”

 “My motto will always be giving back to the community especially with this store,” he said. 

 Carstea has hosted one tournament at Game Over so far, but has hopes to host more in the future.

  Carstea will meet with the City of Rochester Hills on April 30 to renew his current license and discuss further business rules and restrictions to be implemented.  

 Game Over Lounge is open weekdays from 3 – 9 p.m. and weekends from noon to midnight. 

For information, visit the lounge’s Facebook page.