Last month the games team visited Draughts in Waterloo. Located a few minutes’ walk from the London station, the café can be found tucked away beneath Leake Street arches, amid busy graffiti artists and bustling bars. Junior Product Developer Will discusses the benefit of their visit and how it how these contribute to their work progress...
Games cafés have risen steadily in popularity over the last decade and thankfully most companies have managed to keep their doors open post-lockdown. In fact, these venues have a broader appeal than ever as many people who fell in love with gaming at home are now looking to continue their hobby in a more social setting.
Games cafes also offer a much more affordable experience for casual gamers. Admission is usually £7 an hour and the huge library of games range from RRP’s of £25 to as much as £65 to buy outright. Pair that with an upcoming generation who are looking for other avenues to socialise outside of the bar and club scene, it puts games cafes in a very strong market position.
For myself and my colleagues this is particularly exciting as the range and availability of new games has never been better. There may be a lot more competition year on year, but there’s also a growing audience and opportunities to break new ground.
An important part of any season of game development is understanding your players and seeing where the trends are leading. Games cafés are a wonderful resource, to not only play lots of new games but also see who is playing what.
Upon visiting, it was great to see just how diverse and inclusive the game scene is, with such a mixed group of people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying themselves in a chilled setting.
From experience, there are two different vibes of café; very local venues with tightknit and loyal customers and the more bustling city venues which pull in great numbers of students and tourists along with their regulars.
Draughts falls into the latter category, and on this occasion the café was packed. This was expected as it was during the summer holidays, but there were fewer children than we thought there might be. Despite the rush, food and drinks came quickly and the staff were friendly and helpful.
We played a few different titles on our visit ranging from quickfire party pickups to more strategic board-based games. Part of the appeal of these places is to try new things you might not have usually gone for.
We brought along a few colleagues from outside the development team as part of our company run games club. We’re very much a social culture here at TT and as well as running testing sessions for our own games we try and attend as many different experiences as possible from escape rooms to immersive theatre and virtual reality games.
The winner of the evening was a remake of a 90s nostalgia game where players aim to prove their knowledge of their teammates to discover their dream dates. Very silly but great fun and relies on your ability to show how well you know one another.
From a commercial perspective, games cafés provide an indispensable resource to understand games culture and the communities built around it. Personally, they’re a great place to gather with friends, family or a first date. It certainly provides a fun alternative to another night down the pub.