The 1970s and 80s brought classic games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man into the world, and with the birth of video games, arcades were born. They reigned supreme for many years, with kids, teens and adults alike gathering to play their favorite games together. However, as time went on, video game consoles made their way into people’s homes and arcades were slowly fazed out. Over the years, we’ve gotten used to playing games at home, and while gaming cafes are popular across cities in Asia, according to Forbes, they aren’t so much in the Western world.
However, eSports have become very popular in recent years. With online streaming sites like Twitch highlighting the latest games, more and more people are playing multiplayer modes and watching others play. This has led to the inception of video game or arcade bars, reminiscent of old-school arcades, but brought into the modern age. They’re a place where people of all ages can come together to play popular eSports games on PCs and gaming consoles from the comfort of a bar.
But what exactly makes these bars popular, and how are they helping to revitalize the gaming industry?
Who are they for?
eSports bars are, to put it simply, for everyone. Of course, the target audience is for those who enjoy playing and watching video games, but everyone is welcome. Those who don’t drink alcohol feel more inclined to visit an eSports bar as alcohol isn’t the main attraction. Games are.
Meltdown London was the first eSports bar to open in the UK, and it’s a hipster’s dream. Here, they serve craft beers, tasty cocktails, and host eSports competitions. These venues are drawing in crowds of all ages. The younger generation who are finding more gaming spaces outside of their homes are flocking towards them and meeting others who share their gaming hobby.
It’s not just eSports that these bars are bringing to the table; there are some who are taking the classic arcade games of times gone by and reviving them in their bars. This is attracting patrons who have fond memories of these classic games as well as new people who haven’t played them before. Old favorites such as Street Fighter and Donkey Kong are being revived and reinventing the world of arcade games.
Changing the way we game
The rise of video games or arcade bars is changing the way we game. We have gotten used to playing the latest and greatest games from the comfort of our homes, communicating via a headset. Gaming bars bring it back to basics. Here, people can come together to enjoy their favorite games, new and old, all while sipping on a craft IPA.
One reason for the success of these types of bars is the recent resurgence of old games and consoles from decades ago. Last year, Nintendo re-released the NES much to the joy of fans, old and new. With the release came some classic games such as Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong, beloved games which can now be found in these new bars.
It’s not just traditional retro games which have seen a comeback. The retro style of ‘traditional’ slot games have become more popular and seen an online resurgence. Sites like Betway host a range of retro-style slot machines which incorporate the classic cherry slots design made famous from Vegas-style casinos, as well as in the style of classic retro games such as Retro Reels.
Retro game soundtracks are also seeing their own revival. With old-school listening formats like vinyl records becoming popular again in recent years, retro game soundtracks are being re-released onto vinyl, as reported by Wired. Classic Nintendo games such as Banjo Kazooie and Castlevania are now music to the ears of old-school fans, literally.
Big name games such as DOTA and Fortnite aren’t going to be outdone by the wave of retro games. Games are getting more advanced each year with massive multiplayer games taking the gaming industry by storm. We can’t expect the gaming industry to take a step back into the retro genre, it’s just not realistic. But, retro gaming has made a comfy niche for itself as the games are easy for everyone to play and don’t require high-tech equipment or an internet connection.
Will arcade bars keep the retro dream alive?
The real question is, are arcade bars and the subsequent retro wave going to last? Or are they just fads which are going to die out eventually? It’s impossible to know for sure, but nostalgia is a very powerful thing. People of all ages jump at the chance to play games which used to be popular, whether they’re reliving their youth or trying them for the very first time.
However, London is constantly evolving and there are often themed bars popping up around the city. Some of them are nothing more than gimmicks which die out after a few months, but others stick around for years. One thing is for sure, retro gaming is making a comeback, regardless of arcade bars. At the very least, they bring some variety to the bars of London and bring gaming back into the public sphere.