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Gamer's Delight

It's considered ESPN's top sports bar on the east coast. And no wonder. The latest Chickie's & Pete's at Parx Casino offers the total experience, plus a unique video gaming environment.

The Gamer's Private Pod

But anyone can install new audio systems and a slew of flat-screen TVs. What sets Chickie's and Pete's apart is the venue's patent-pending Play2 interactive experience. Instead of just watching sports, patrons can play any number of Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, or Microsoft Xbox 360 games in one of the 18 custom-integrated APECs. These private suites are rented for gameday events or by the hour and each features a 65-inch screen mounted over a gaming cabinet. Each cabinet includes a Middle Atlantic SRSR12 pullout rack for organizing the game consoles. The SRSR Series racks have rails that slide and rotate 90 degrees, which saves precious space in each gaming cell and makes it easy to access and service the consoles as necessary, because when it comes to the popular APECs, time is money and any system glitches must be dealt with ASAP.

In each APEC, a wall-mounted Crestron TPMC-4SM 4.3-inch wide-screen touch panel serves a variety of functions, including volume control and source-switching between game consoles and television feeds. Each touch panel was also programmed by ICD Systems of Exton, Pa., to allow users to order food and drinks and to count down the time left on their APEC rental. Among the other custom touches is an interface that blinks to indicate that there are five minutes left in a group's APEC rental, and provides the ability to add more time to a rental directly from the touch panel.

The Crestron system was also programmed and integrated to act as a master APEC monitoring system, which connects back to the gaming hostess' booth to help ensure that no one damages or abuses the AV systems in each pod.

All the gaming pods also include Panasonic video cameras mounted above their screens. This allows patrons in the main seating area to see how the gameplay is going. All the consoles are also networked so that when the feature is activated, patrons can play against gamers outside their pod or even outside the sports bar.

The biggest challenge in designing the APECs was sound. With 18 pods, each in need of its own private sound experience while being surrounded by the sports bar's audio at large, PTC Group needed tightly focused speakers that didn't sacrifice quality.

"Pete's mandate was that the APECs must sound great," Powell says. After considering the options, PTC Group specified a pair of portable JBL EON 515 self-powered speakers for each APEC.

"The stereo EON 515s are installed in the cabinet below the gamer, but pointed up like a stage monitor," Powell says. "It's not too loud unless you're sitting in front of the screen, in which case it blows you away. We wanted very directed sound that's close to the gamer but doesn't bleed into the next cell."

Even so, designers gave extra acoustical consideration to the construction of the pods to further enhance the private entertainment experience. After all, some of the APECs include digital instruments so patrons can play games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero. To ensure people can rock out and not disturb other APECs, the walls are acoustically isolated with thermal padding and the carpets were double-padded, Powell says.

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