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New gaming lounge aims for a retro feel and appeal

New entry into city's burgeoning gaming scene puts its focus on retro video games
20160722 game room cafe ts
Thomas Gofton, left, and Terry Caswell are two of the partners opening up a gaming lounge on Wyndham Street that will focus on retro video games. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

Guelph's surge in alternative gaming entertainment is getting a new addition.

Afterlife, an "upscale video game lounge," is close to opening at 101 Wyndham St. North.

While it will tap into the board game craze, the focus on Afterlife will be video games, with televisions lining the walls for people to play their favourite video games with a focus on some of the classic games of the 1980s and 90s.

Afterlife is owned by five partners, some of who are the owners of the Round Table, a popular board game lounge on Essex Street.

"It's about that video game culture we knew in the 80s and 90s," said partner Thomas Gofton.

"League of Legends, World Of Warcraft, vintage Mario games, Sonic The Hedgehog... it's just a place where friends can play video games, drink, eat food and hang out."

There are also plans to live stream some of the very popular professional video game tournaments from around the world.

Players will be able to reserve a particular table or just show up with friends or meet some new ones.

It will be licensed and there will be food.

Terry Caswell, another of the Afterlife partners, said gaming lounges tend to attract an older, mature crowd, hence the licensed aspect that will include a serious scotch selection.

There will also be some funky menu offerings, such as liquid nitrogen ice cream.

Caswell said a lot of today's games are very immersive and somewhat darker. The games of the 80s and 90s seemed more social.

"They were meant to be played in a group setting," Gofton adds.

Afterlife is next door to another new gaming cafe, The Boardroom, which focuses on board game play. There are also three escape room businesses that have popped up in Guelph in the past year.

Gofton, who makes a living creating board games, including a new Buffy The Vampire board game, feels video game lounges are the next step in the evolution of this level of entertainment.

He's seen them pop up around the world the past year or two and expects them to blossom in the next year or so.

"I like to be a little bit ahead of the curve," Gofton said. "But it's a really new frontier and we don't really know how its going to go. It's tough to speculate."

Gofton said Guelph has become a bit of a "hot spot" for this type of entertainment.

Gofton and Caswell said a soft opening is likely in the next week or two.

"We definitely want to be open for when the university school year starts," Caswell said.

Hours were still being debated, but 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and later on weekends was likely.