The word “play” has been a part of 302 Interactive’s culture and ethos since the company started in 2014.
Initially, the connection was simple: the company started as a video game development studio in a UCF dorm room. Room 302, in fact.
But as the years have gone by, 302 Interactive has branched off and started doing work in several industries.
However, it remains dedicated to the term “play,” only now it’s expanded the term to “wellness through play.”
“We look at play as a lifestyle,” CEO Kyle Morrand said. “If you tap into playful living daily, you improve your wellness, access your inner joy and expand your creativity. We want to inspire people to live playfully and support those who do.”
In April, 302 Interactive launched a semi-regular meetup that travels to different venues around Orlando.
Bowling, darts and pool, oh my
The refurbished bowling alley Primrose Lanes recently opened on the northwest corner of North Primrose Drive and East Livingston Street, in the location that housed the iconic Colonial Lanes for nearly 60 years.
These so-called “Joybreaks” encourage the community to take a break, connect with others and maybe play a round of darts or, in tonight’s case, challenge each other in bowling.
The roughly bi-weekly event will check out the new Primrose Lanes tonight (Aug. 9).
“We wanted to give creatives a chance to socialize with other creatives while disconnecting, taking a break and relaxing,” said Morrand. “It is sort of a wellness check where your friends can say, ‘Hey, you’ve been doing great work but you should come take a joy break.'”
In the four months of its existence, Morrand has experimented with venues.
A traveling show
initially, the Joybreaks visited The Monroe, a cocktail bar in Creative Village. That drew a contingent of students from the nearby Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.
The venue then shifted to A La Carte on Irvington Drive near East Colonial, which added a variety of food options and a trivia night component.
However, it wasn’t until last month that Joybreaks added more activities, by moving to Sportstown, a pool hall that also has a game room with ping pong, pop-a-shot, darts and more.
“We look for somewhere that’s not just happy hour at a bar,” Morrand said. “We want to be somewhere that people can talk and have fun activities to enjoy.”
A much-needed post-pandemic gathering
As the coronavirus pandemic shut down Orlando’s tech ecosystem in early 2020 and beyond, events slowly started to get called off.
But, as the community has re-emerged, it created a need to get the gaming and tech businesses back together, said 302 Interactive cofounder Bobby Torres, who helps organize the events.
“The goal is to bring different types of people and professionals together,” he said. “These events are meant to be social and relaxing. There is no agenda.”
Joybreaks is certainly not the only event in town.
Other groups like Orlandopreneur, Orlando Innovation League and Innovate Orlando host periodic events that bring the community together.
However, the smaller, intimate and play-focused approach to Joybreaks has drawn a consistent crowd and, at least so far, the reception has been positive.
The soft sell approach to outreach keeps the guest list manageable and people who attend hyperfocused on the meaning of the events, Morrand said.
“Reception has been pretty positive,” he said. “We’ve had game developers, graphic designers, musicians, and comedians come out to the events. I have a few, ‘Thank you, I needed this’ comments. That makes it all worthwhile.”