After a long day of adjusting microscopes and helping the twits around me understand the basic principles of plugging things in, I wondered where would be a nice place to go and drown my sorrows. While I like to sulk back home and play my games until I’m beckoned to bed by my aching body, sometimes its nice to go out and have some ‘fun’.
Enter the Mana Bar, an Australian owned business, setting up bars around Australia (now doing quite well in two major cities). Being lucky enough to live around the area where one of them is based (inner city, Brisbane), I decided to mosey around and see if gaming (a rather individual and involved experience, I would think) can be mixed with people and alcohol (kind of the opposite).
Upon entering, I was struck by the fact that the Mana Bar was not just about games, but feeling comfortable with being into this sort of culture. With all the terrible news coming out about video games apparently causing violent behavior *cough*, it was so refreshing to see regular people, chatting away, about mutual interests that in every day life are frowned upon, or seen as very trivial.
Cosplaying is not just allowed, it is encouraged. Nerdy memorabilia fill the walls. Even the cocktails are named with gaming references. I felt… comfortable, in a way I had never really been in a public place when talking about the things I enjoy doing (namely games and science and drinking heavily).
When it came to playing the actual games, the Bar has several consoles on offer to play (PC games being a little harder to control in a public bar), most, if not all of them, being multi player. The people playing them never really fought… they just had a quick play, and enjoyed watching other people battle it out. Gamers here were talking and cheering on, in a sporting fashion, to the people playing. Finally, I thought, a healthy way for adult gamers to come out and socialize with their interests in an adult manner.
Graffiti in the toilets is allowed, provided that it isn’t crudely drawn penis’s or racial slurs. Some of the artwork was beautiful, and the sayings thought provoking.
Even though some of the people there were a little anti social, probably not used to this sort of environment, everyone was very welcoming. People who didn’t really like video games didn’t go there. It was a nice, positive atmosphere, with light music (to facilitate conversation and to allow people to hear the games).
While I unfortunately do not have much time to visit these sorts of places often, I found it an enjoyable experience and hope that more bars like this will open in the future.
To check out more about the Mana Bar, go to http://www.manabar.com.au/, and beg them to open a bar in your home town.