Mana Bar, Australia's first licensed video game venue, is opening its doors on Saturday, 20 March in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.
Guy ‘Yug’ Blomberg, one of the co-owners of the bar, said that it’s been a long time coming. “I came up with the idea around two years ago so it’s such a relief that we will open our doors on the 20th March,” he said.
There will be a strict no cover charge policy and plenty of games, both new and old, to play on the wide array of gaming consoles. Most importantly, they will be free to play!
Blomberg said that the bar is intended to cater to both gamers and non-gamers. “First and foremost, we are operating as a bar so it’s important that we focus on that before we get stuck into the video games,” he said.
All current gaming consoles would be offered to patrons, as well as a wide range of games including Wii Sports, Street Fighter IV and Guitar Hero. “We’re trying to also focus on multiplayer games but will also offer highly rated single player games,” said Blomberg.
Blomberg said there had been widespread interest in Mana Bar, both within Australia and internationally. “It’s not just been gaming media that have shown interest... mainstream media have also jumped on the Mana Bar; it's great.” Six thousand people have joined the bar’s Facebook page, where regular updates on the progress of the venue have been posted.
The Mana Bar is offering an exclusive sneak-peak of Xbox Live Arcade game “Raskulls”, currently being developed by Brisbane-based Halfbrick Studios; the game is due to be released in around a month. Blomberg said that there were a few other unreleased titles Mana Bar hoped to give its patrons an exclusive preview of.
“We have big hopes for the venue,” said Blomberg. “In the future we’d like to host gaming tournaments and launch parties for new products and games, even though we can only fit 50 people on the premises.”
One of the other co-owners is Ben Croshaw, known as ‘Yahtzee’ in gaming circles — a popular video games journalist and software developer. “Yahtzee is Yahtzee... the fact that he is involved has generated a lot of interest worldwide,” said Blomberg.
The bar was inspired by venues such as Ludia’s Bar in Tokyo. However, Blomberg said that “bars overseas tend to be places which offer alcohol on top of the video games experience... we are trying to separate ourselves from that. We offer video games as part of the bar culture.”
Hourly prizes, giveaways and live entertainment will be offered on opening night, and there will be special guests. The Mana Bar will be open from midday to midnight, seven days a week.