Toronto has always been a city to embrace trends and fads. One of the most notable transformations over the past decade has involved the city moving from a quiet business centre to one of the undisputed hipster metropolises of North America, a process which has gone hand-in-hand with the breakneck pace of gentrification.
One of the most visible signs of Toronto’s “hipsterfication” is the proliferation of so-called “video game bars” in every corner of the city. These days, one of the activities of choice for hip young twenty-somethings is to hit up an after-work bar which offers a chance to knock back IPAs and play some old-school Mario Kart in equal abundance.
Let’s break down the rise of video game bars in Toronto, alongside a round-up of the best ones in town.
Canadians Are Big Gamers
While video game bars are a product of a hipster trend we are seeing in cities worldwide, the main reason Toronto has so many may be because Canadians were huge gaming fans in the first place. According to the Canadian Survey at www.slotsonlinecanada.com/what-are-the-most-popular-video-game-themes (infographic above), many Canadians spend as much as 20 hours a week indulging in their favourite games, significantly longer than many other countries.
Canadians also have a strong affinity for fantasy games, which explains why many of the hottest bars are full of such games, including Legend of Zelda and World of Warcraft. The appetite for gaming was already there – the new bars are simply catering to it.
The Best Video Game Bars in Toronto
There are too many stellar arcade and video game bars spread out across the city to list in full here, so we’ll just stick with the very best ones.
The undisputed epicentre of the scene right now is Tilt, a mammoth venue on Dundas Street which features more than 50 classic arcade games. The best part, as the website www.tilttoronto.com explains, is that visitors don’t have to pay to play: the $5 cover fee covers unlimited gaming. This leaves plenty of spare cash to sink on their extensive selection of craft beers.
Another bar worth hitting up is Power Up, a futuristic spot over on Wellington East Street which specializes in some of the most popular multiplayer console games. Top choices among punters are, of course, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and Rocket League, all of which can be played for free. This spot is a little bit more sophisticated, meaning you can enjoy your games with an expertly-crafted cocktail on the side.
Nostalgia geeks should make sure to visit the beautifully-named Pixels and Pints on Broadview, which specializes in some of the most iconic arcade games of the 90s, alongside locally-brewed ales. More info can be found at their page https://www.facebook.com/PixelsandPintsToronto/, but think House of the Dead, Big Buck Hunter and Jurassic Park II – basically all of the games you played in the mall as a kid while your parents went shopping.
For something a little more specialized, check out Dundas Video on Dundas Street, which is the only place in town (and possibly the world) where you can play every single Street Fighter game under one roof. The drinks are criminally cheap, which is a nice added bonus.
We are big gamers, so it’s hardly surprising that we’ve decided to combine the activity with our other favourite past-time, beer. Check out these spots for a real night to remember (or forget).