Detroiter Kevin Rushing wants to use his gaming business, Krush Industries, in order to form a tighter-knit, collaborative community for young adults in the city. But the veteran is drawing on an unlikely source: his experience in the Marines.
"A lot of this came out of my experience coming home as a civilian with PTSD and finding more therapeutic ways to live and healthier lifestyle options," said Rushing, who went to Iraq with the Marine Corps in 2003 and 2004 . "I really think of games as the absolute opposite of warfare; it's collaboration."
The business, which Rushing launched with his brother last year, "started with an idea called 'Big Fun Place.'" The siblings wanted to bring gaming to Detroiters who were looking for new forms of entertainment.
"We don't really want to party hard, drinking and smoking and stuff ... there's a lack of entertainment options for young adults that are healthy and engaging," he said. "We started coming up with events and spaces that were appropriate and cool enough for adults."
As part of their mission, Rushing and his brother recently organized punk rock dodgeball at the Russell Industrial Center, and started trying to raise funds for an assault course based on the '90s television show "Gladiators."
The Rushings also received a CAMP Detroit grant to create an installation, called the Krush Arcade Experience, that will debut at this weekend's Movement Electronic Music Festival and will appear at other city events in the future. It is an arcade machine emulator loaded with old school arcade games, in a tent filled with lights and lasers for an '80s vibe.
"We both really love Detroit and are passionately involved in making it a successful community," Rushing said.
The veteran's ideas are also backed up by recent research, which has suggested that playing video games like Tetris may minimize flashbacks and other psychological symptoms following trauma.
Though the brothers plan future Krush Industries projects, Rushing is also digging into the psychology of gaming and its role in society. He's interested in how elements of gaming, like competitions and receiving incentives for completing tasks -- such as getting points for spending money on a credit card -- can be used in daily life.
"Entertainment will have to be more engaging and thoughtful," Kevin said about his vision of the future of Krush Industries. "There's an ethical portion to this and a community-forward portion that we think will make it more than just an entertainment facility."
For Rushing, his dedication stems from his positive experience with gaming, whether in training competitions with the Marines, arcades or Gladiator challenge courses.
"The thing about playing games and competing," he said, "is you lose yourself in it."