For those who are old enough to remember, Internet Cafes used to be a real thing. Banks of computers all lined up paired with a full cafe service. I remember going on holiday as a child and being amazed by this wonder of computerized convenience. Now, we walk around with the internet in our pocket, running on phones more powerful than any computers of the early 2000’s.
And with the internet, gaming has also developed and changed. Time was, arcades were the social hub of the gaming community. Everyone would meet up and crowd around Pac-Man or DDR, funneling coins into the machines to have a good time. Now, you can play with your friends from the comfort of your own home. We have slowly seen gaming move from an in-person activity, to a distance one.
And this is great for its own reasons. Ease of access, comfort, not to mention how it benefits those with anxiety. But as the modern high-street changes we are seeing a new wave of gaming community form. Gaming Lounges.
The idea is simple. Like an internet cafe, gaming lounges are filled with a variety of consoles and games, paired often with comfortable seating and cafe services. Clients can pay a flat rate to enter and then play any of the games. The business will make its money back from the entry fee and the food and drink they sell.
You might think this wouldn’t work, that people would just play their consoles at home. But there are a number of factors to consider.
The biggest being community. These lounges allow friends to come together for some retro couch co-op, letting them experience the games of their childhood. It is also a great place to meet like-minded people. It is often the gaming aficionados that frequent these lounges, so everyone has a lot in common.
Secondly, comfort. These lounges are specially designed to create an optimal gaming experience. Custom low-back couches. As we know, these couches are great for gaming. Top-quality TV’s to play on and waiter service to bring all your food to you. Its the extra comfort that makes it all worth it.
Often these gaming lounges are run by people with a passion for gaming. And, as such, they strive to make sure their lounge is filled with only the best games and quality consoles. It is very common to find a lot of rare titles hidden away in these places. For the general gamer, if they want to play an old rare title, it could cost them up to hundreds of dollars. Or they can spend a small entry fee and play it at a lounge while supporting a local business too.
If you look at the community based around trading card games, their pro environments thrive in person. This is partly, of course, due to the physical nature of the game. But if you fill a room with 20-30 players of a game, they are going to share ideas, tactics, and stories.
This is another advantage of gaming lounges. For players who approach their games with a more professional attitude, they can come together for practice sessions, pre-arranged battles and just to chat and share their tips and tricks. This social hub for gaming, like a sports bar, can only bring multiplayer gaming further into the future.
So, are Gaming Lounges the Future of Multiplayer Gaming? I think it’s impossible to say they are the be-all and end-all of it. But they are definitely changing the social landscape in a fantastically positive way, and their impact on the multiplayer scene can’t be ignored.