Loading Bar London Preview Event


It’s a cold evening in London. I’ve been up since 4am travelling, then attending an industry event in a London nightclub and I’m left with several hours before my coach home. Usually I’d spend the afternoon trying to start writing up coverage for work in a cold corner of some coach or train station, praying that my battery doesn’t run out too soon and leave me bored and alone in the capital. Today was different though, I knew there was somewhere perfect I could head.

untitled-I head toward Soho on the tube, following a hastily scrawled map I made the night before. After turning off from the roads full of huge theatres I come to a small glass fronted building, with robots painted onto the window and crowds of people packed inside. There’s plenty of familiar faces I’ve met before, and even the faces I don’t know look welcoming, eager to introduce themselves and make new friends. Amongst the chairs and tables there’s a group playing card games in one corner, a Street Fighter tournament happening in another and a group are playing Nintendo Land in the other. I watch as an artist grabs a new marker pen and continues to draw a fantastic video game mural on the wall, featuring Lara Croft with an unusually large set of top teeth and Chell offering Luigi a drink through a set of Portals.

This is Loading Soho, a test run for what will hopefully become a permanent fixture for London gamers to socialise, relax with a drink and even show off games they have in the works.

untitled-6171Inspired by Tokyo’s famous gaming cafes, Loading is currently the name of a Cornwall based venue that advertises itself as a place to “Drink, Relax and Play” and it certainly seems to fit that description. The venue offers a selection of gaming themed alcoholic drinks, as well as softer options like milkshakes and coffees, a place to play games that doesn’t charge you for that privilege, and generally provides a social area for gamers to meet up for a drink. Now the company have plans to open shop in London too. If the turn out to their tester evenings last week is any indication, then they’re going to be a complete hit with London gamers.

Of course, I couldn’t give a fair opinion on the venue without sampling a couple of the drinks, so I jumped right in and picked a couple of interesting sounding ones from their varied menu. From the Tri-Force, a shooter combining Lemoncello, Galliano and Tequilla, to the Earthworm Gin, a cocktail combining Gin, Earl Grey Syrup, Lemon and Lime and Soda water, the menu offered some very interesting themed drinks that were reasonably priced for a London startup venue. What struck me most however was the amazing atmosphere inside the venue. I guess it says something positive for the UK gaming scene that you can have a venue with gaming systems not tied down and find that they’re still in one piece at the end of a night of drinking. The fact that I could just walk in and find people asking if I wanted to join in on their game of Nintendo Land within minutes of arriving says a lot about how polite and friendly London’s gamers are, or at least those who were there when I came along.

untitled-6310Possibly the most exciting move for the venue’s future is the support they’re getting from the indie developer scene. Nicoll Hunt brought down an Ouya dev kit to show off his game, Fist of Awesome. Mike Bithell, BAFTA award winning game developer, has suggested on Twitter that large amounts of his second project will be developed in the venue. In short, if you want to be ahead of the curve with indie games, you wouldn’t go wrong with a visit here. If this picks up as a centralised place for indie developers to show off their games to those interested, then this could mark an interesting turning point for the indie dev scene.

While the venue is currently only temporary and Loading will not be permanently based in London for some time yet, I’m hugely excited for the potential. If it takes off, which the professional games community in London certainly seem to want to happen, then this will likely be the place for London gamers looking to have a nice friendly atmosphere during an evening in the city. I look forward to hearing more and urge you to give it a visit next time they’re in London.

You can keep up to date with updates on the venue by following @drinkrelaxplay on Twitter.

Images provided by Will Edgecombe.

Copyright © 2013 MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews