Game On: Jacksonville's Premier Game Bar is on the Rise

January 20, 2018 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

You’ve heard of sports bars that allow fans to gather together to watch their favorite teams compete but have you heard of game bars? The GLHF Game Bar in Jacksonville aims to unite gamers across the city – and even the world – with their love of gaming and the rich, unsung community that often develops within gaming spheres.

The acronym is derived from the popular gamer saying ‘Good Luck, Have Fun’ and, according to owner Cliff Comastro in December 2016 when the bar first opened, the statement embodies the core values he hopes the business will bring. But can the bricks-and-mortar establishment exist in a world that is moving ever increasingly online?

The Rise of Game Bars

In the US alone, there are approximately 53.6million people are regularly playing console games. The GLHF utilizes not just consoles with the capacity for online play, but PC games and arcade games, providing something for every aspect of the gaming community. Regular events, such as Overwatch and Revival Z tournaments, are also played and streamed on gaming network Twitch, which averages over 100million monthly viewers. By positioning itself as Jacksonville’s top destination to both play and watch games, and one that will be potentially seen by thousands of people, the GLHF Game Bar plans to optimise what the gaming market has to offer.

But are gamers too antisocial for a Bar? To the outsider, the average gamer spends an inordinate amount of time alone in their room so why would a bar with that kind of target market be a lucrative option? Well, gaming is a lot more social than most people would think. Statistics from 2015 show that 15% of frequent gamers play with their spouse or partner and that 39% are frequent players of so called ‘social games’. Add to this the reported 5 hours of game playing per week with other people in person, and 6.5 with others online, gaming is actually a very sociable activity. By dispelling popular myths and providing a location that allows players to game online as they would do regularly, the GLHF Game Bar seems onto a winner.

Bricks-and-Mortar and Online: A Happy Union

Bricks-and-mortar establishments for gaming in are actually on the rise, - and have been since 2013. Arcades that once dominated high streets, and then saw a steady decline, have been absorbed by the inclusive gaming bar, which features the old 8-bit machines for good measure. Many would argue that the rise of digital forces a lot of "barcades" out of business, but, instead of the bricks and mortar establishments fighting off the online competition, the GLHF Game Bar shows that the classic games can exist in tandem and even bounce off one another. For example, classic blackjack is one of the oldest recorded games, dating back to at least 17th Century Spain, yet it has found its feet in the modern world on websites. As we move in to 2018 we will see more sites like Betway Casino offering of live HD blackjack technology means that the traditional format, played in a physical casino, can be blended perfectly with the digital environment to enhance the experience. Arcades are now also seeing something of a revival.

SOURCE: @glhfgamebar via Twitter

Jacksonville Revival

Downtown Jacksonville has a healthy nightlife sector, which can only be expanded by the GLHF Game Bar, which offers something for those who might not be interested in the standard bar crawl or night out by adding a touch of the modern to the city’s landscape. But, while this is not Jacksonville’s first foray into the world of gaming, it is the first that stands firm and offers a showing of new technology. The bar is also a relatively inexpensive way of embarking on a new hobby, if, for the first visit, you only sit and watch other people playing.

The barrier for entry is also a lot lower for new fans and players of games, especially those online that players may be less familiar with. A dedicated staff of avid gamers can help new gamer recruits settle in with a drink and learn the ropes before becoming a fully-fledged gamer. And for those not interested in gaming, the bar itself stands on its own two feet by offering a relaxed and chilled atmosphere for a quieter night. The nostalgia factor of gaming in a bar can also attract those whose gaming days are long behind them, and help to tap into the past. The rise of the barcade can even be seen in Manhattan, whose establishments take inspiration from the games themselves and foster a relaxed atmosphere at the bar, providing a safe haven for gamers from amateur to professional.

The Good Luck, Have Fun Game Bar has just celebrated its 1st birthday and plans to celebrate many more. The possibility of new AR games of Pokemon, Harry Potter, and Animal Crossing offer a host of PR activities and publicity stunts and, with the right marketing strategy, could further breathe life into the bar scene of Jacksonville. The scope for development is huge, especially with the influx of technology that was only imaginable a mere 5 years ago. The future definitely looks bright for the GLHF Game Bar.