From the Archives: Video games support WC, Oct. 1, 1982

Art Conforti / Polar Star

Pac Man and his friends are helping some students at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks finance their education and others improve their bowling average.

These are two indirect benefits of the new electronic video games at the Wood Center, according to operations coordinator Carol Brown.

Fifty-seven students are currently employed in some facet of Wood Center’s operation. This total does not include ASUA or ARA employees, or the custodial staff. Funding to adda a number of positions has come from the games area, Brown said.

The games also support the bowling alley, which hasn’t made a profit since the Wood Center opened 10 years ago. Without the boost from the video games, Brown said the facility would have to be closed or prices raised.

The bowling alley charges 85 cents per line and 25 cents for shoe rental. Prices in town are $2.25 per line and 50 cents for shoes.

Wood Center receives tax revenues to cover only about one-third of its annual operating budget. Brown said the remainder must come from sales at the counter and the games area. The Pub is a separate financial entity.

Gross receipts from the games area, which includes the pingpong and billiards tables as well as the video and pinball machines, have been running nearly double last year’s monthly average.

Brown said this is probably a peak and expects a sharp decline as the year progresses and students’ workloads increase. However, she expects revenues to remain much higher than before the video games arrived on campus.

The $3,000 video machines are provided without cost by the Alaska Music Co., and Wood Center gets a percentage of the take.

The vendor takes care of maintenance and keeps records on usage. Those with less play are replaced with more popular games as they become available.

The staff at Wood Center will also take requests, and the vendor will try to honor them depending upon demand and availability.