Casey Harris, co-owner of Game On, explains how to play a game during the first Trans Gaming Night at Game On, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Casey Harris, co-owner of Game On, explains how to play a game during the first Trans Gaming Night at Game On, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Video game store raising money to stay in business

Game On in difficult financial spot after move

One of Juneau’s most distinctive businesses is working to raise money as it looks to continue its services in a new location.

Game On, a video game store that also strives to promote diversity and provide a safe place for marginalized people, moved to the Nugget Mall last year but the transition has not gone smoothly, co-owner Casey Harris said Wednesday. There have been issues, mostly with contractors helping them set up their new space, and the shop began a Kickstarter to raise money to preserve its services, Harris said.

The fundraising goal was set at $20,000 when the Kickstarter opened May 3. As of Wednesday, the campaign — entitled “Game On: An Extra Life for Diversity in Videogames” — had raised just shy of $5,500.

“We had a great surge of interest right away,” Harris said. “We got almost a quarter of our funds pledged immediately, but it’s been very, very slow since then.”

As a result of the rules of Kickstarter, the campaign has a month to raise its stated goal or it will not be funded. The deadline for the Game On Kickstarter is 4:59 p.m. Alaska Time this coming Sunday. Harris said that if the money isn’t raised, the shop is in danger of shutting down due to financial difficulties.

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Harris said that Game On has attracted attention nationwide, including earning a SCORE National Small Business Champion in 2017, and there are a few organizations that are closely watching the Kickstarter campaign. Some of those organizations, Harris said, wait until a campaign gets to a certain point in its fundraising before contributing.

Almost a third of the proceeds would go to Kickstarter fees and putting together rewards for those who have contributed to the campaign (including hoodies, lessons, dinners and more), according to the Kickstarter page. About the same amount would go to carpet, murals and electrical improvements. About 17 percent would go to advertising, promoting and hosting events, and about 15 percent would go to new equipment.

Game On, which used to be located in the Airport Mini Mall before relocating in September, has been especially active in the LGBTQ community. For example, the store hosted its first-ever Trans Gaming Night in February for transgender people and allies. Harris said they hope to have more events like that, but won’t be able to if they can’t keep the store open.

The store fills a need in Juneau and Southeast, Harris said, whether it does that as a video game store or as a safe, sober haven for those who are looking for one.

“There is no one in 500 miles who covers this,” Harris said, “so the market potential is stupendous.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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