Retro game bars have slowly seeped into Japanese popular culture during the last decade.
The concept of playing on the game consoles until you get so drunk that you fall down on your face has a limited but nevertheless growing appeal all across Japan.
Many of the bars have special feature such as games where a player can interact with the voice actors who serve the alcohol. Reminiscent of the American restaurant without a liquor license that features a bring your own bottle (BYOB) policy, there are also a few places where you can bring your own alcohol and your own games as well!
The modern Japanese arcade does not rely on appearances to attract customers. The Akihabara Shukaijo (“shukaijo” meaning “assembly hall”) is nothing special to look at. The walls are white, the sofas cramped and cheap. Usually, there is a proliferation of wooden chairs and several tatami mats in the corner.
Enter and game is the mantra at the Portable Game Cafe. No frills here, but plenty of thrills. You bring your own game machines, which are usually PSPs and Nintendo handhelds. Tabletop gaming and card games are welcome as well as long as they don’t disturb other patrons.
These gaming cafes are a direct outgrowth of forced leisure time created by the mile and miles of train tracks that provide long breaks during commutes. When people miss the last train home, they can pass the time by gaming and catching few winks on the tatami mats provided.
This new arcade concept caters to the serious gamers. Unlike manga cafes, everything is in the open and the goal is simply to gather and game.
So, why not do so and save money at the same time?
Why not indeed!