Plug Into Personal Connections

Record room

Mobile technology and personal interaction help people reconnect.

By Kate Rader

With all the time we spend “plugged in” to our screens, our bodies sure could use a break! Experts say that unplugging helps the brain and body recharge, reducing stress, improving sleep quality, and even improving personal relationships. In-person communication can make us more aware of things like facial expressions and tone, which are important for building bonds with friends and family.

Entrepreneurs Allyson and Mark Washington and active-duty Army service member Kristian Clay each envisioned modernized spaces where friends and families could gather to have some fun together.


Kristian Clay opened Hagers X Games in June after she saw the need for a fun environment where people of all ages could go to play games and connect on a more personal level. Originally from New Orleans, Kristian discovered that she enjoyed participating in activities like axe throwing and escape rooms to unwind while stationed around the U.S. and wanted to share the experience with others.

Hager X Games

Hagers X Games combines live action games like axe throwing with mobile style graphics and digital scoring. 

The 3,000-square-foot facility has a sports bar type of vibe, with bar-style food, like pizza, nachos, candy, and soda. “Axie” the deer proudly guards the American and Maryland flags that greet visitors as they enter. Kristian says the space is perfect for building relationships. Players can compete or work together while spending time with family, friends, and even co-workers. 

There are eight lanes for axe-throwing—with a twist. Games like Duck Hunt, Candy Crush, and the traditional bullseye are projected onto the backdrop so throwers can aim for moving targets. This makes the games more exciting, Kristian says, and they’re self-scoring so players always know exactly where they stand. 

Kristian says that players can create profile on their mobile phones to track their score, “Axe throwing is competitive. People love to come back to beat their previous high score or compete with others.”

And, for the more collaborative-minded, three themed escape rooms challenge people to work together to solve a series of puzzles for a master key to unlock the door. Currently, players can choose from the “Casino Heist Room,” the more challenging “Secret Laboratory Room,” or the “Psychopath Room,” inspired by the horror movie “Saw.” Room themes change with the seasons, however, ensuring there’s always a new challenge.

Pleased with the feedback she’s received from her customers, who tend to return often, Kristian believes in the power of togetherness. “People are trying to find something to do in Hagerstown and have fun without having to drive. I felt like it was just the right time, I had a calling and wanted to leave something for others.” 


“Axie” the deer greets guests who can enjoy bar style food while bonding in a fun atmosphere.



Registered Nurse Allyson Washington says that caring for hospice patients is her calling, while using her creative talents to inspire others is her passion. The child of two blind parents, Allyson always felt compelled to interpret the visual world for others through photography and design.

She and her husband Mark opened Socialite Studio in Hagerstown in March 2020. “My mom wanted a way to share her life experiences on social media. I had this idea to open a studio that would allow people to create visual content without having to set up their own backdrops.” The “selfie museum”—filled with spaces that beg to be photographed—appeals to people of all ages looking for a creative place to have fun and express themselves. Anyone—from models, musicians, and individuals who want to take selfies, to families and coworkers—can book online and reserve time starting at just $25. Visitors spend around 1-2 hours exploring the space and capturing photographs with their mobile phones.

“This was a way to bring big city vibes to Hagerstown,” Allyson says of the 3,000 square-foot warehouse they transformed into 16 rooms of staged interactive art studios with ring lights and mobile phone stands. She provides clients with a Bluetooth-enabled remote control so they can easily capture candid moments without having to be behind the camera. 

Being a part of the community is an important part of the décor. Socialite’s themed rooms are rich with color and texture, many decorated with items from the local area, like an antique clawfoot tub from Williamsport and a bench built by a Frederick craftsman from an old GMC truck grill. Favorites include the “Money Room” where clients can shoot cash from a money gun and sit on a safe surrounded by “gold” bars and walls covered in real money. The “Twister Room” is a fun place to take photos while playing life-sized Twister with a four-foot spinner. 

Each space is expertly lighted and camera-ready for users to capture the perfect moment, but often, visitors leave with improved self-confidence, Allyson believes. “Here, people connect and become a kid again. It’s a place to get out of the game systems, the drama in the world, and to be creative. Parents can be interactive with their kids. Tech is still involved but they’re not stuck in their phone.”

Socialite is also known for its 360-degree photo booth, which can be accessed at the studio, or rented for on-location events. Many of their most viral moments happen when people let loose, and Allyson enjoys seeing people come out of their shells. “It’s amazing to see people connecting, interacting, laughing, and creating,” she says. 

Visitors don’t even need to share photos on social media to enjoy Socialite Studio. “It’s been a little tough explaining this new concept to people, but once they see it, they love it. Our tagline is#selfielove because we believe in self-love. Our goal is to make people more comfortable. We want to be a breath of fresh air, a place where people can feel comfortable and have fun. It’s so much more than a studio, it’s all about the experience.”

Newspaper room

Socialite Studio offers more than a dozen themed rooms for photo-taking, like this one, which is covered in newspapers.



Hagers X Games

A discount is provided to military, veterans, and first responders with valid ID. Visit them on Facebook for weekly offers and more information on axe throwing and tournament leagues. 

Socialite Studio

Booking is by appointment.
Reservations, times, and dates are listed on their website. Visit their Facebook page for popups, holiday-themed rooms, and weekly specials.

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