In last week’s Holiday Gaming Traditions column, we discussed how video games can salvage our friends’ holiday plans even when they go up in flames. When we’re led to create new traditions, we discover gaming scenarios that shape and ultimately change aspects of our gaming culture
It’s no secret that gaming culture shifts as technology advances. Take the arcade days for example. Unfortunately, I was born after the golden age of arcades, so I don’t know it personally, but I know it as a cultural icon. Even though I didn’t grow up in that time, I appreciate the environment and gaming culture arcades provided, and I continue to seek out venues that have classic arcades. The same applies to traditional LAN parties. Some may assume since friends can play online together, LAN parties have fallen out of favor in gaming culture. But LAN parties are still popular throughout the world, despite the inconvenience of packing up all your gear. Neat fact: DreamHack located in Sweden holds the world record for the largest LAN party at 12,754 connected systems.
In 2007, the Dutch game industry surpassed the Dutch film industry for the first time in history. In 2009, the profits of Britain's video game industry exceeded those from its film industry for the first time. In Japan, China, and South Korea, we continue to see the popularity for arcades and gaming lounges grow and grow to new heights. In fact, when I was in Shanghai, I got to experience firsthand the energy and intense popularity of gaming cafes. Talking to the local gamers was a blast. They shared their stories about how gaming lounges have always been the main places they game. They said that a lot of their friends and family don’t have either the living space, fast enough internet, or the resources to purchase their own gaming station at home. Gaming lounges and internet cafes are the fun, spacious, affordable option for great gaming. It’s not only a youth hot spot, but a great place for couples and families to enjoy as well.
Here’s where I’m going with all of this. We’re seeing more and more video game themed businesses embraced and supported all over the world. Video game bars, nightclubs, restaurants, lounges, and competitive centers are popping up everywhere. The discussions that suggest arcades are gone, or gaming lounges will never become popular are outdated. I’ve been discussing gaming lounges and arcade bars with both local owners and with the local patrons who swear by them.
Within these local gaming venues, I’ve met both young and adult gamers from all walks of life with varying interests, thus debunking the stereotype that gaming lounges only attract one dimensional crowds. These gamers agree that gaming in their homes is wonderful, and will forever be one avenue they use, but gaming lounges and arcade bars offer a completely different experience. Their social and competitive aspects become cultural attractions, and carry on the spirit of traditional arcades and LAN parties.
There is a specific type of energy in gaming venues that you cannot recreate at home. As opposed to inviting your friends to a movie, bowling, or miniature golf, gaming lounges are becoming the nightly hotspots, weekend destination, and ideal venue for hosting events. And we’re not just talking large venues like Dave & Buster’s. New, locally owned video game businesses are opening all throughout the world and are thriving. For example, Australia’s Mana Bar, Canada’s EXP restaurant, California’s Howie’s Game Shack, and New York’s Barcade are rapidly expanding due to overwhelming popularity. Gamers all over the world are supporting these businesses creating gaming culture for future generations. It’s going to be a ton of fun to see where gaming lounges take us.
Now, over to you! Do you have a favorite gaming lounge or great arcade bar experience to share? I’d love to hear from you. And the next time you pop into a gaming lounge, keep my motto in mind: One Mind, Any Controller.
Every week, Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.
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