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Drinking for Gamers: This Video Game Bar That Just Opened in California Looks Amazing

Drinking for Gamers: This Video Game Bar That Just Opened in California Looks Amazing

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Get your drink (and food) on at AFK Gamer Lounge, where you can play League of Legends, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and more

The AFK Bar: Level up? Take a shot. Die in the game? Buy your friends the next round.

Attention, people who normally spend their weekends virtually raiding, smashing, racing, and plundering: you need not stay in anymore. The AFK Lounge, which just opened in San Jose, California, is a video game-themed “Esports” bar, where you can eat and drink gamer-themed menu items and challenge your friends and other bar patrons to games like League of Legends, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and more.

Just like sports bars have multiple mounted flat screen TVs showcasing various sports around the room, AFK Lounge’s TVs will showcase the various gamer tournaments currently happening at the bar via LAN (local area network). The folks behind the AFK Lounge originally gained traction by getting the attention of Reddit, and the project was later fully funded by a private investor.

“Most gamers understand that the image of the anti-social teenage boy playing video games alone in his room is dead wrong,” read the initial description of AFK from their failed Kickstarter campaign. “In reality gamers today are all ages, genders, and extremely social. The real problem is that our favorite activity keeps us tethered to our desks and TVs at home, primarily interacting with our fellow video game enthusiasts via the Internet; we want to change this.”

The bar allows underage gamers, as long as they don’t drink. But for those who can, power up with these cleverly named cocktails (with more to come): Press Start, the Pac-Tan, Falcon Punch!, and the Lon Lon Frappe. We think there should be a secret menu item called the Konami code.

In a Queens neighborhood, the birth of indie video games

The vibrant independent video game scene is nearly invisible to the wider world. When most people hear the word “gamer,” they tend to think of characters who’d rather spend a Friday night with World of Warcraft than hit the town. But like the music industry, the game space enjoys its own vibrant counterculture of hobbyist programmers, developers and players, driven by a passion for games as art.

Formerly inhibited by the very mechanism that helped indie games grow and thrive — a globally distributed and diverse Internet community that rarely converges face to face — a group of devoted, bootstrapping indie gamers are forging an underground home for themselves. In what’s perhaps an unlikely twist, one place it’s happening is near the epicenter of the ultra-hip wildland neighborhoods where the Brooklyn indie music scene makes its home.

On a city block in Ridgewood, a Queens neighborhood that lies so close to Brooklyn’s edge it feels more like the latter borough’s careless spill-over, sits Silent Barn, a hub within Brooklyn’s DIY music scene. It’s a music venue and art and community space where local bands nightly play alongside a kitchen in a packed room of twentysomethings drinking cheap beer. In Silent Barn’s low-lit basement, a cool refuge from the noise-rich and sweat-slicked music shows that pound the ceiling overhead, there is a small indie arcade called Babycastles (which declares its presence with a yellow neon sign).

It’s the first collaborative effort from New York City’s designers, curators, bloggers and fans to gain major steam, in spite of — or perhaps because of — its handmade quality. . Scrap hardware, old monitors and the husks of arcade cabinets, deftly pastiched and equipped with generic game controllers, play host to inventive titles from designers such as 2010 Independent Game Festival prizewinner Cactus or the widely popular Messhof, in carefully curated installations from fans and local developers who want to see these games reach their local community.These titles showcase sometimes-baffling visuals or subversive game mechanics in defiance of the dominant paradigm: bullet-addled war fiction or mainstream-inspired action-hero dramas.

Babycastles is largely the brainchild and brow sweat of friends Kunal Gupta, 27, Syed Salahuddin, 27, and Arthur Ward, 26, who wanted not only to showcase games made by global indie stars and local hobbyists but to create a convergence point for the medium of independent games — a space which, when not centered on the faceless and globally distributed Internet, tends to be associated much more strongly with Silicon Valley and the West Coast.

“The purpose of Silent Barn is to cultivate different subcultures, and, like, even though it’s primarily a music venue, it’s been open to other organizations which support community building, whether it’s in the video game or music space, or anywhere else,” Salahuddin says. “This is why it was the perfect spot to have an arcade here — it’s because we would get such exposure.”

The three programming grads wanted to go beyond simply discovering other New York Web developers and programmers interested in games the fledgling industry in New York City is largely centered around mobile and social platforms, which tend to be highly driven by ad revenue, and succeed by imitating one another’s simple, proven design mechanics. Graduating from Columbia and NYU into an environment where games weren’t conceived as art, Babycastles’ founders wanted more.

“As soon as I left Columbia, I worked for this tiny mobile games company and my work was no longer art,” says co-founder Gupta, who has created a quirky title Meowtron featuring odd, bright colors and a focus on the inner life of a cat, shown at Babycastles. “It was a really awful experience. I stopped making games.” Instead he immersed himself in Brooklyn music and was inspired by its energy to gather the like-minded, such as Salahuddin and Ward.

The co-founders say their effort is mostly about building a relationship between the developers who show their games at the arcade and the surrounding community, whether that means turning music scenesters on to the idea that games are equally valid art, or making the industry more accessible to urban youth (Babycastles recently was an unlikely destination for a field trip for local middle-schoolers).

It’s also about seeking a channel for indie game developers to monetize their work — something Gupta says is currently a steeper challenge than it might be for more familiar art and music in the neighborhood. It’s common to charge nominal door fees to see bands in the community, and the Babycastles crew is still ironing out the details of how best to navigate this tricky economy.

Though renowned in Internet communities, the names of the game designers and their titles on show are little-known to the venue’s common music cohort. But Messhof’s Nidhogg, an eerie two-player fencing title, has drawn crowds since it’s been playable at Babycastles, suggesting that the kind of interest that could sustain economics is beginning to take seed.

Game and music fans seem surprised by the convergence of their two worlds. But perhaps it’s not surprising that those two scenes are finding a common audience here — just like much of the music biz looks to Brooklyn’s DIY underground for the next big thing in music, it’s to its indie designers that the highly commercial, risk-constrained video game industry looks for the next great innovation.

On a recent hot Thursday night, Silent Barn hosted a party in Babycastles’ honor the house was packed with all stripes of the local crowd, taking turns donning 3-D goggles to play on a giant projection screen the stunning Super Hypercube from renowned designer Phil Fish and his team, while others sweltered and danced to the pounding music of Glomag, a chiptune musician whose sounds come from hijacked video game hardware.

  • Netflix in Los Gatos, California, is exploring hiring an executive in the video game space
  • No final decision made about its strategy
  • Netflix has done some 'very basic things' in the space, with Bandersnatch and Stranger Things
  • Fortnite previously cited as a larger competitor than HBO

Published: 18:15 BST, 21 May 2021 | Updated: 19:24 BST, 21 May 2021

Netflix might be planning to expand into the $150 billion video game industry, according to a media report.

The popular streaming company is 'excited to do more with interactive entertainment' beyond its popular offerings 'from series to documentaries, film, local language originals and reality TV', a spokesperson told

'Members also enjoy engaging more directly with stories they love - through interactive shows like Bandersnatch and You v. Wild, or games based on Stranger Things, La Casa de Papel and To All the Boys. So we're excited to do more with interactive entertainment.'

The Information, which first broke the news, reports that the Los Gatos, California-based company has approached veteran executives in the industry to lead its efforts.

At this time, it's unclear what Netflix's strategy would be one source told the tech news outlet, 'Strategy TBD.'

Netflix has done some 'very basic things' in the gaming industry, said co-CEO Reed Hastings on the company's most recent earnings call in April.

'In ways, we're kind of in gaming now because we have Bandersnatch and, you know, we have some very basic interactive things,' Hastings said.

Bandersnatch is a 2018 film on Netflix that let watchers make choices for certain characters that either lengthened or shortened the time of the movie.

In total, there are 250 segments of the film, totaling 150 minutes.

Netflix also competed with wildly popular game Fortnite for consumers attention, it said in its 2018 fourth-quarter letter to shareholders. In 2017, 'Stranger Things: The Game', based on the hit Netflix show, launched on mobile devices, designed by BonusXP, Inc.

Two years later, 'Stranger Things 3: The Game,' also designed by BonusXP, launched on both iOS and Android, as well as consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation.

Netflix is listed as a collaborator with publisher BonusXP on both video games.

The 27 Coolest New Gadgets of 2020

One decade ago, 4G was the hot new thing, TVs were ugly, and everyone's cell phones slid open. Just imagine what the next ten years will bring. If we really live up to our innovation potential, it'll be a slew of technologies that successfully yank humanity away from the precarious edge it is teetering upon. You know, the one where we're about to plunge into irreversible global disaster, AI super-surveillance, and digital inequality. A dark outcome, to be sure! Let's reign in the doom and gloom for a second though&mdashwe know easier said than done&mdashand focus on the now.

Over the past year, startups and massive corporations alike have kept up the tempo of new releases. Despite the pandemic, there are new gadgets to ooh and ahh and damnnn over, from the outlandish to the high-concept to the downright handy. Here are 27 of the most interesting we've seen and used (with some overlap with Esquire's 2020 Gadget Awards). Best case scenario, they are the kinds of gadgets that will make our lives more efficient, safer, and more entertaining in some neat way or another, and look cool in our homes while doing it. Worst case scenario, reading this article will for a few minutes quell the boredom of being perpetually stuck at home with only your Alexa and an outdated gaming console that is decidedly not a PS5 for company, watching everything outside go from bad to worse.

Cool new technology reminds us that even as 2020 closes out, we humans can't help but invent, grow, and change. It's something bright worth keeping in mind.

Themed Food and Anime Cafes!

We love celebrating the holidays, which is why we love creating themed food for the holidays! Themed restaurants or cafes are plentiful in Tokyo, ranging from things like trains to anime to animals! Seeing as we’re an anime truck, we’re going to focus more on the anime side of things. Let’s take a look at the different cafes out there!

Anime Themed Cafes

One Piece themed Cafe “Baratie”

Some anime themed cafes are more permanent fixtures and so they contain far more elaborate decorations. The above picture has the chef character, Sanji, standing in front of food seen in the anime. The name “Baratie” comes from a floating restaurant-ship that Sanji previously worked on.

Not only that, the food is also inspired by the anime. This parfait comes with a straw hat pirate flag, the main pirate crew of the manga/anime, as well as made to look like a devil fruit from One Piece.

Apparently they have a pretty cool toilet.

Here’s more examples of menu items but this time from a Gundam themed cafe.

Not all the restaurants are permanent fixtures though. For example, some are pop up restaurants that take over a restaurant temporarily with their own decorations and food items. In the case of the picture above, the items are Sailor Moon themed drinks, the bottom left looks like Tuxedo Mask, the main male character. The event went on for a couple months in a bar takeover in order to promote the then up and coming anime, “Sailor Moon Crystal”.

Another pop up cafe for Kyoto Animation’s Free!

Kuroko no Basuke themed dish

Madoka Magica themed dishes

However, not all of them are temporary or permanent. The above picture for Madoka Magica is from Good Smile’s Animate Cafe. Good Smile is a figure company specializing in figures of characters from anime and video games. Their Animate Cafe is a more permanent fixture that changes themes frequently. The left dish features Kyubei, the mascot from the anime.

Video Game Themed Cafes

Monster Hunter themed dishes

There’s not much to say here that hasn’t already been said in the anime themed section. So we’ll just leave you with cute pictures instead.

The cafes also sell various goods. In the case above, it’s the store specifically for Capcom Cafe selling goods based on their properties. The pop up stores also sell exclusive goods only sold in the time frame the store is open.

If anime and video games aren’t your speed, there’s always the AKB48 cafe.

If Japan is too far out your reach, try our holiday themed parfaits! Not anime themed but they are themed.

“Everyone practices the same hours per day, you have team lunch breaks. you do everything as a team. There’s no time at all to actually have a life.” —Ryan “State” Visbeck

“When I moved to Korea for the first time, I was training at a team house in 2012, and I was much better than I am now,” Visbeck says, laughing. “I went to Korea for three months to practice for the StarCraft II world championship in Shanghai. And a couple years later, when I moved back to Korea, I joined a Proleague team—the premiere StarCraft II league in Korea. Both of those experiences were completely different from anything else I’ve had in my entire life, because in a Korean team house in StarCraft II , you’re waking up at 10 or 11 a.m., everyone practices the same hours per day, you have team lunch breaks. You play soccer as a team. You do everything as a team. There’s no time at all to actually have a life.”

Now on his own, Visbeck spends more time streaming than competing, usually playing online for nine hours a day. He&aposs also a college student at a local Korean university, and plays in StarCraft II tournament qualifiers while juggling a slate of classes.

“My sleep schedule’s been screwed up for the past couple of weeks,” Visbeck says. “When I want to compete in tournaments, they’re always going to be North American qualifiers, so they’re at times that are good for North Americans. I’ll start at 12 a.m. and finish at 7 or 8. It’s a disaster, having to flip my hours for classes and eventually flip back for the qualifiers every couple weeks. It’s just so stressful.”

Many players put in similar hours. Members of European eSports club Team Liquid—which plays Heroes of the Storm , a team-based game from World of WarCraft developer Blizzard—practice extensively just about every day, and personal time is practically nonexistent. “Time-expensive hobbies barely fit in,” says Liquid player Raoul “GerdamHerd” Saurbier.

Between playing with teammates, practicing solo, and watching film of games to identify ways to hone their skills and strategy, Team Liquid’s players say they put in at least 10 to 12 hours a day training in Heroes .  “It’s exhausting,” says Team Liquid player Daniel “Shad” González. “You get mentally tired because you are thinking all day about the game and how to improve, and then in training you&aposre concentrating to try to fix your mistakes.”

All that practice and focus culminates in tournaments and league play. But getting into those competitions is difficult, and it doesn’t guarantee that teams will walk away with a worthwhile payday. At the Halo World Championship, despite all Evil Geniuses’ preparation, Towey says the team had a tough run, finishing lower than they had hoped. They left the tournament with a top-8 ranking and $75,000, a far cry from the $1 million the first place team took home. Sure, $75,000 is more than most Americans take home in a year, but it doesn’t go very far for a team, Towey explains.  “You give a percentage to the organization, a percentage to the coach, split it four ways [between the players], taxes. We won the gold medal at the X Games for ESPN in Aspen, and that was $15,000 for first place—you’re not really looking at a lot."

So like Visbeck, several of the Evil Geniuses team members stream consistently to supplement their income. Towey spends a lot of his time online, interacting with and creating content for fans to build the Evil Geniuses brand. And two of the Evil Geniuses Halo team members, twins Jason and Justin Brown, have full-time jobs outside of gaming—they’re both apprentice electricians.

eSports competitions range from online games to huge, live events set in professional sports arenas. The Evil Geniuses Halo squad has had big tournaments every month through the first half of 2016, including the World Championships.  Tournaments for eSports athletes generally means flying to a city with teammates, setting up in a hotel room, and waiting to compete. The sport, like many others, requires a lot of traveling, and Team Liquid’s González says that can be exhausting. Since the companies creating most eSports games are based in either the U.S. or Asia, it’s even worse for European players, who often spend more time traveling than competing. Once a team has finally arrived at a tournament, Visbeck says there&aposs rarely a chance for much preparation ahead of a competition.

The Larry

This all-day food and drink hangout anchored in the Phoenix Warehouse District truly caters to lovers of day drinks. The Larry is open for breakfast, lunch and happy hour with a menu that includes healthy options to comfort food. They also serve specialty coffees for pre or post drinks.

The 15 Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked

From Dark Souls to Super Mario to Zelda, these are the titles that changed gaming forever.

Attempting to single out the greatest video games of all time is a task and a half. What are you supposed to judge? There's the way certain titles influenced future games, and whether or not the graphics were gorgeous, and how much we loved them as kids versus now. But ultimately, it comes down to good taste. We took a step back and looked at the general landscape, considering all the games that have inked their way into pixelated infamy, and came up with a list of probably 100 titles. We narrowed that down to 20, narrowed that down even more, and were left with the 15 video games that we think rightly represent more than three decades of incredible gaming. With 2020 looking like it'll be a stacked year for new titles, who knows? Maybe we'll soon have to reconsider the field.

So with that&mdashblows in a cartridge mutters, "Is this thing on?"&mdashhere are the best of the best.

The crushingly difficult, dark, and gritty world of Dark Souls III is so influential it spawned a whole new vocabulary for describing gameplay. While the first Dark Souls is obviously the most groundbreaking, Dark Souls III has such flair and polish, making it hands-down the best experience in the series thus far. Ever since Dark Souls, From Software has consistently created other titles that could have taken this spot, like Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (and we could not be more excited for its upcoming George R.R. Martin collab, Elden Ring). But this title in particular has some of the most innovative combat in gaming, ever, easily earning its spot. &mdashCam Sherrill

Shovel Knight is an indie title that seems to not only spank the Triple A market, but also hit every milestone with grace and dedication. Honestly, it deserves to be on this list if only because it kept up a steady stream of monumental free content since its release in 2014 until just last December. Shovel Knight takes every aspect from the retro platformers and "metroidvania" titles that we love, with its own twists to stand apart. The iconic 8-bit visuals, paired with versatile gameplay from campaign to campaign, has made Shovel Knight not only one of our favorite indie games, but one of our favorite games period. It strikes that perfect balance between nostalgia and creativity that will keep you invested for years. I for one am on my twelfth play through. &mdashC.S.

Overwatch is a creative take on the first-person-shooter style, one that breaks the mold through its beautifully designed characters and a reliance on team composition and objective-based gameplay. It has kept up a constant stream of new maps, events, heroes, and skins since its 2016 release, and it's not slowing down. Overwatch 2 is on the horizon, promising much of the same along with some new co-op and story-driven modes, so there's a ton more to look forward to. &mdashC.S.

When people talk about The Last of Us, they talk about its story, which is one of the greatest the medium has ever seen. But can we run back the gameplay for a second? At this point, we&rsquore just about fully desensitized to beat-and-shoot-and-fuck-em-up gameplay, but The Last of Us restores the thrill of, you know, Sparta-kicking a goon down a flight of stairs. In the game, nearly everything is a weapon, Joel and Ellie have fighting styles that feel authentic to who they are as people, and there are genuine stakes to every fistfight&mdashwhich, yeah, you can thank that Oscar-worthy narrative for. &mdashBrady Langmann

Minecraft revolutionized the way sandbox games operate, and it still stands as one of the most played games of all time. It&rsquos remarkably easy to lose yourself for hours working with your friends, or by yourself, to build anything and everything you can think of. And the massive Minecraft empire has only grown exponentially since its release nearly a decade ago, with more collaborations, a server system, and new IPs like an adventure game and an upcoming dungeon crawler. Plus, Minecraft is available on phones all the way up to the heaviest-duty gaming PC. You gotta give credit to scale.&mdashC.S.

I&rsquove never owned a copy of GTA V, but my college roommate did. Every couple days, when he was at class, I&rsquod fire up his PS4, boot up GTA, get in a car, and drive. I&rsquod turn on Rebel Radio&mdashwhich, I shit you not, was my introduction to American folk music, where I first heard legends like the Highwaymen and Tammy Wynette&mdashand spend up to a half hour on a virtual highway, top down like I was in a Corvette commercial. I understand you can do other things in GTA, like whack a pedestrian in the face or get kicked out of a strip club. But my afternoon drives did just fine. After over 15 years of GTA, Rockstar finally put the series' best elements together&mdashthe boundless open world, the Fast and Furious-esque story, the pitch-perfect satire&mdashinto the greatest installment the franchise has ever seen. &mdashB.L.

World of Warcraft, first released in 2004, is less of a video game and more of a lifestyle. Your friends in high school who played WOW had an entire culture of their own they existed in this separate world, interacting with each other and with people from all over the globe, night after night. For this reason alone, it should be remembered as an all-timer. &mdashC.S.

This game is largely responsible for the Switch's immense popularity (although Animal Crossing is currently pulling its weight). Breath of the Wild is far and away the most impressive open world we&rsquove seen in a video game yet, and it tells such a beautiful story through inventive gameplay but very few cutscenes. The puzzles are unparalleled, and the action is remarkably creative and open-ended. It is a truly new Zelda experience, but more than that, it is a truly new gaming experience. With a sequel on the way (fingers crossed for a 2020 release) we'll have a lot more from our blond-haired elf. &mdashC.S.

This game rules. The single-player. The co-op. The plot. The puzzles. I mean, hell, it's a near perfect game. Straight-forwardly, the Portal series sees players shoot two portals to help solve puzzles. The way this mechanic is used and built upon on through the game is seriously one of the best-developed mechanics we&rsquove seen thus far. And it only gets more wild and exciting (read: infuriating) in two-player co-op. The Portal series could have made the list just based off the portal mechanic alone, but instead, it also gifted us with an enthralling story, a deep cast of characters, and an unforgettable world. &mdashC.S.

The Pokémon franchise has taken over the world. With mobile apps, long-standing handheld favorites, an animé series, and so much more, gaming would truly not be the same today without Pokémon. And it all started with Red and Blue. Before &ldquoPikachu&rdquo became a household name, Red and Blue were the humble, role-playing game titles that redefined the handheld medium, sparking something of a pop culture revolution. &mdashDom Nero

Not Quite Roughing It: Even More

This not-exactly-rustic forest abode has a kid's room with custom bunks and a TV for cartoon-watching, plus a top-floor game room with foosball, pool, and plenty more. The living room has a cozy stone fireplace, and there's a fire pit outdoors primed and ready for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.

  1. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  2. Wagon Train (NBC)
  3. Have Gun, Will Travel (CBS)
  4. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  5. The Real McCoys (ABC)
  6. Rawhide (CBS)
  7. Candid Camera (CBS)
  8. The Untouchables (ABC)
  9. The Price is Right (NBC)
  10. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)

These history facts from the American music industry have been made available courtesy of

Favorite music artists in 1960 included Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell, Brenda Lee, Brook Benton, Chubby Checker, Dinah Washington, The Drifters, Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Frankie Avalon, Jackie Wilson, Jim Reeves, Johnny Preston, Marty Robbins, Pat Boone, Paul Anka, Percy Faith, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, The Shirelles, and Dinah Washington.


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