The adage which goes something like ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” has pretty much become a cornerstone in our busy lives. We all try to make time for play, whether that involves switching on our PC to check out the newest video game or anything a new casino has to offer, or maybe you prefer more physical outlets which test your fast-thinking skills. Some people place great stock in how they decide to spend their playing hours, committing themselves fully to its mastery and taking pride at being the best at it.
Today, the world of gaming and gamers has expanded far beyond anything those of us hunched over Pong in the 1980s could ever have imagined For the committed gamers, this means being part of a thriving community all around the globe.
They can travel nearly anywhere in the world and still find a warm, welcoming place where they can convene with like-minded people and swap war stories or even indulge in them.
The Penny Arcade Expo or as it’s more commonly referred to as, PAX, has been on the go for 13 years. Gamers who follow this expo religiously can tell you how it pretty much only gets better with time. It offers itself up as a platform for gaming enthusiasts of all persuasions and ages to come together and check out the new wares from industry leaders as well as indie platforms. It’s not the cheapest get-together around, with day tickets priced at $48 but the sheer volume of stages and activities to indulge in, means that eager attendees will never be left with a bored moment while in Seattle.
A welcome addition to the entertainment landscape in recent times has been the growth of live puzzle events. One such spot in San Francisco is the Real Escape Game where eager punters can swap $30 for the chance to (briefly) give up their freedom and sanity in an attempt to solve the challenges necessary to escape within the given timeframe.
Located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Headquarters Beercade should appeal to the young and those of a ‘certain age’ what with its blend of craft beers, unpronounceable cocktails and vintage arcade and pinball games. The return to vintage online and off is pretty strong everywhere and that’s what Headquarters Beercade plays on.
The games are all free to play so visit, hand over some money for food & drink and sit down for nostalgia-destroying moments as you quickly realise that sometimes the past is best left in, well, the past.
If you happen to be passing through Atlanta at any time and feel an indescribable urge to nerd out with some like-minded heads, be sure to drop by Battle and Brew. They have the good grace and self-awareness to refer to themselves as a Geekbar, and that they surely are - but in all the best ways possible. Great selections of beer and cocktails, a full service restaurant and a ridiculous array of gamers’ tournaments and special offers throughout the week make this a must-visit spot.
Located in the East Village New York, Videogamesnewyork is an independent game store that is probably akin to the centre of the universe for many. You want old-school or obscure games or systems from people who know all about them? If so, the likelihood is that you will find no better than this place. There is an amazing selection of games and consoles as well as in-house diagnostics and repairs. In the rapid-paced world of technology, it is a relic of old decency and should be cherished as such.
Claiming to be the largest arcade in the world, Funspot in New Hampshire must certainly be one of the oldest as it was founded in 1952! This old corner has survived to the present day by offering customers the most timeless of commodities – pure, unadulterated fun. There are over 600 games including more than 250 classic arcade games, some of which are not to be found anywhere else. If that’s not enough for you, there’s always bowling or 18 hole indoor miniature golf.
Coming very much from the leftfield of the gaming world, Now Play This showcases the wider and weirder aspects of games and play whether it be through installation-like pieces, to running around or playing beneath tables. It focuses on the play aspect of the game, rather than the game itself, an original take on the experience. It can next be found running as part of the London Games Festival in 2018.
We already know how popular UK casinos are, which speaks volumes about their love for gaming and all things entertainment related. To compound this fact, there’s a second famous gaming venue right in the capital, London. By some accounts, The Heart of Gamin in Croydon, is one of the few remaining video game arcades left in London which, given the size of the city, is both remarkable and remarkably sad. Run by a pair of gaming enthusiasts with a real love for all things arcade, customers pay a flat rate at the door and then can play away to their hearts content. Simply put, it’s a non-profit run for the love of it. Kudos to the boys.
The Creative Coast Festival in the southeast of Sweden has been held in May for the last number of years, is free and open to the public. If you are the type referred to as a ‘creative’ then this Nordic knock-about may well be worth your time. Granted, there’s a little bit for everyone but industry types are the main demographic.
Who amongst us hasn’t dreamt of being transported back to Budapest circa 1936? Well, maybe it’s just us but should you ever find yourself in that wonderful city and have an incurable itch that only a group activity, which revolves around solving a crime that has stumped the police, can cure; the Prisoners of Budapest is the jape for you.
Many gaming and arcade enthusiasts consider themselves to be experts on all things classic but we’re willing to wager that this here museum will blow their minds. Talk about falling headfirst in Bizarro World after a week on the whiskey! We have never seen anything like this. If you can’t get to Moscow, we highly recommend visiting their website for a wild taste of this weird ride.
The Capcom Bar, a place where your food is themed and your waiter will perform a small sketch related to that game he or she is serving you. Where you can dress up as Ryu from Street Fighter without raising too many eyebrows from your fellow diners. In essence, it is THE venue for gamers, with the ideal setting to boot. Found in Tokyo, it has a lively and energetic atmosphere.
How much gaming fun can you handle (obviously not counting for our free spin bonuses)? Are six floors of the stuff enough for you? Because if it is, this might just be the place for you to centre a new religion around. Situated in the heart of Geektown, Tokyo, SEGA GiGO has been described as an historical stroll through the ages of gaming from the first ever arcade Pokémon to the latest in VR. There’s also enough manga and anime to keep you entertained for days.
A place of neon dreams and electric charm, Akihabara Electric Town is like nowhere else on the planet. It is stuffed from top to bottom with shops which are the living embodiment of Japanese gaming culture as anime characters wander around checking out a bewildering array of electronic goods and wares, the likes of which you have probably never seen before. Prepare for an assault on the senses.
Gaming has become pretty much part of our life, whether we acknowledge it or not. Sometimes we stumble upon a gem, like a convention filled with people who think like us, or a bar which serves our drinks dressed in our favourite game characters’ attire.
From being considered something of a niche market and the domain of the socially damned, gaming and gamers have risen above the insults of the naysayers and taken advantage of evolving technology like few others have. It’s as if the geeks meek have inherited the earth, or at least the virtual version thereof.