In years gone by, pubs with a dart board that had a few board games stacked on a window sill could have been considered a “games pub”. Not anymore. A game of 1996 Trivial Pursuit while sipping a couple of ales remains a popular Sunday afternoon pass-time, but with pubs struggling across the country many establishments are trying to tempt punters back in to play everything from table tennis to video games.
Technology has revolutionised many businesses, and pub entertainment is no different. Projectors and a vast array of flatscreen TVs are now a mainstay of many sports bars, but a number of pubs have gone further by introducing digital interactivity. Games like MatchReader let football fans predict how a match will unfold via Facebook Messenger, with the winners offered prizes such as free pints at the bar that can be redeemed via QR codes.
Other pubs have introduced touchscreen ordering, so patrons spend less time queuing at the bar and more time drinking with their friends. And with these tablet devices already installed at the table, some venues are exploring the idea of giving their customers games to play while they wait for their friends to arrive or venture back from the toilets.
Even the humble fruit machine has come in for rejuvenation. No longer are patrons limited to the two games machines with questions unchanged since the landlord installed them in 1985. Instead, some pubs have installed large 24″ touchscreens that offer an ever expanding variety of games to play, from Texas Hold’em or Buffalo Gold slots.
The touchscreen video games could be considered antiquated, however, next to the virtual reality games that pubs such as the Four Thieves in Battersea have launched in-house. Alongside crazy golf and remote-controlled car racing, the pub offers a fully immersive virtual reality experience as well as their own craft beers.
Beyond technology, other venues have taken indoor games to a new level to attract their customers. The Box in Leeds found popularity after installing two seven-metre-long shuffleboard tables, whilst the cleverly named Bounce now has two London locations for its ping-pong-themed bars. And for board game lovers, places like Scenario in Stoke Newington and Draughts in Hackney will keep you entertained for hours.
Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly and pubs are evolving to keep pace. Today, a good selection of beers and a tasty menu are expected as standard, so pubs have turned to games to draw attract customers for new memorable experiences.