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Client Spotlight: Aimee Rubin Talks on Community, Inclusivity, and Branding at Game On State



Game On State is a retro arcade and candy store found in the heart of Media’s business district. This week, as they turn one year old I sat down with owner Aimee Rubin for a client spotlight.

If you want to listen to the full interview, just click the play button right below.




Why did you choose to start an arcade and candy shop in the Media community?

In February of 2021, my husband Eric and I had the idea to open up an arcade and candy store in Media, PA. A prime spot right on State Street had opened up and we really felt that there weren't a lot of things for kids and families to do on State Street and around Media. We knew that something was missing.

We also found out from our personal family situation, while exploring options for our child who did not take the direct path to go to college, that there was something that existed called customized and supported employment. I was particularly fascinated by this idea and the opportunity to provide for individuals on all ends of the spectrum to work within the community and to be part of something.

And on a Sunday morning in February, Eric said to me,

 

“What would happen if we opened an arcade in Media and used customized and supported employment?” And a light bulb went off that day.

 

Where did the idea of the name “Game On State” come from?

We actually had a Zoom meeting with my best friend and roommate from college who’s in business with her husband. And it was actually her husband, Brian, who said, “Tell it as it is, it’s GAME On State or GAME ON state.”

We also really wanted to also incorporate the tagline Everybody’s Arcade which, because of our mission, really has a double meaning to it. Number one, Media’s motto is Everybody’s Hometown. So ‘Everybody’s Arcade’ was quite fitting. But we also really wanted Everybody’s Arcade because it truly is a place for everyone. It‘s an inclusive environment and we wanted that to be right up front in our name.

What do you want people to feel when they first enter this arcade and candy shop?

Nostalgia. We wanted it to be a retro arcade and to have retro candy. We wanted people to come in and feel like they were going back to their childhood.

Also, right before the time we were going to open, we were very much still in the thick of COVID. And one of our big goals was getting people to come back out and to be together and to do things with each other. We wanted to recreate that nostalgic feeling of being back in our childhood and being together, especially because we all needed a little bit of joy and lightheartedness.

Image taken by Nick Pitcavage

How did Touchpoint help create that environment and capture those feelings you just described?

Touchpoint was integral in creating these feelings. You were able to come into basically a blank slate and help us to create and develop a vision. You helped to bring it to life. And we were able to do that together as a team, like a community. And it really was! We pulled from everyone’s different expertise and perspective to achieve a common goal.

I have a lot of trouble visualizing concepts and you were able to put ideas into a visual framework for me that was easy to digest, see, and really feel that essence of what we needed to capture.


To see more about our work for Game On State, check out the project!



So, I want to dig a little deeper here… What is it about Game on State that makes it so unique?

I think there are so many things that make it unique. It has developed into so much more than just the feeling of nostalgia. I feel that when you walk in there’s a feeling of community where everybody has been able to touch a piece of Game On State. I love to walk in every single day and see the brand, the logo, and all the colors you created.

The fact that the brand flows from the front of the store to the back of the store and ties everything together. Even the jaw breaker emblem with its five different colors and just everything tying together goes hand in hand with our mission of togetherness and inclusivity.

What are some examples of the inclusivity piece that you mentioned?

I think the fact that at least 20% of our employees have a disability or special need. And the idea that we don't want these employees to just be in the backroom restocking candy. We want them to be out front because they are as much a part of our team as anyone else.


Having individuals who are in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, neurodivergent with autism, or have a spectrum of individual needs working front and center at Game On State living and feeling that they are a part of the team is the reality of what we strive to achieve with our workforce. And it ties in with a rule that my family lives by and that we also apply to our business -


 

‘No one is better than anyone else, we just know different stuff.’

 

I even had the opportunity to meet Pedro last week, one of your team members who has cerebral palsy. He seems like such a welcoming and inviting person. Can you tell me a little bit more about his role with Game On State?

So, Pedro, we consider and call him our Game on State Ambassador. He is in a wheelchair, he has cerebral palsy, and he uses a programmed ‘talker’ that can verbally express anything that he wants to say. He can welcome people, talk about our candy, provide customers with our pricing for gameplay, and even ask questions. Despite his physical challenges he has found ways to overcome obstacles. For example, he has learned how to stamp our logo on bags using his elbow. One may think that this is an unusual approach but it defines customized work that finds different pathways to a goal.


Check out ABC6’s video showing customized and supported employment in action at Game On State.

Pedro heat pressing his first shirt for Game On State's one year anniversary

What are some of the ingredients that help to create such an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment at Game On State in the heart of the Media community?

We have an employment model that welcomes individuals with special needs. And our goal, looking ahead in the future, is to create more jobs and more opportunities for these unique individuals.

And thanks to you, going into our second year, we are now looking to create our own merchandise and apparel in house. This will help to expand our ability to create customized and supported employment opportunities. For example, we recently purchased a clothing heat press materials that will allow us to manufacture customized t-shirts in house. It’s a new revenue stream that will financially support our mission and create more jobs. We have even had inquiries from other businesses who have expressed interest in having our team create customized t-shirts for their businesses. It’s not only proof of concept that our model can work but also a demonstration that our local businesses also recognize and support the importance of customized and supported employment.

This is also so much more than a job for these individuals. This is a community for them. This is a way for them to socialize, this is a way for them to feel successful. That's our goal. We focus on what people can do instead of what people can't do.


How does a brand design company, like Touchpoint, help entrepreneurs, like you, start their own business?

Well, for me, it was so particularly important because we're all about the ‘why’. Why are we doing something? It needs to make sense. It's not about the what, it's not about the how, it's about the why.

Touchpoint was able to help create that ‘why’ in a visual way. Our logo had to make sense. It had to have a why, it had to have the reason, it had to have everything. But

 

Touchpoint went beyond just a logo on a piece of paper. It created a brand. A brand where all of our mission critical objectives intersected.

 

So first, I want to congratulate you on your one year anniversary because that is coming up this Saturday. What exciting things are happening on the horizon and around the corner at Game On State?

Saturday, October 29, we're going to have been open for 52 weeks, 1 year. We opened up on the day right after the 2021 Media annual Halloween. We are planning a celebration of our store and what we've been able to achieve in one year. But, more importantly, it's a celebration to say thank you to the community for their support, which really has been immeasurable.

Can you explain to us a little bit about the Gaming for Inclusivity event that happened right before the end of your one year anniversary?

We came up with the idea of Gaming for Inclusivity because, as we were leading up to our one year anniversary, we wanted to highlight inclusivity as a cornerstone of our business model. And we wanted to celebrate our individuals with special needs in a way that brought them together for a fun and unique experience.

I think the most beautiful part of our Gaming for Inclusivity event, which was similar to the Special Olympics but with gaming, is that we wanted an opportunity for people to come together, socialize, play, to be part of an environment that understands their needs. Because again, it is Everybody's Arcade.



Alright, one last question for you… we’ll keep it short and SWEET. What’s your favorite arcade game and favorite candy?

I love Skee-Ball! I also love Shrek pinball and Pac-Man. For candy, my favorite would have to be the Hershey's special dark chocolate and pink Starburst.



 

Hey, you’re down at the bottom now! It’s pretty sweet down here. Thanks for taking the trip, you are very much appreciated!



Some cool things:

If you’re interested in learning more about Aimee and her team at Game On State you must check out this link.


If seeing some of the work we created for Game On State piques your interest then definitely check this link out.


If a soul-centered brand sounds right up your alley and is something you may want or may want to learn more about totally click here.