As a wee whipper snapper, the only places I could go, hook up with mates and enjoy video games socially were the arcades. These were few and far between. I'd often go up to the Trocadero in London, to enjoy a bit of Afterburner in the full 360 cockpit or shell out £5 (that's worth about £9.63 or $15.97 in today's money) for the shonky VR games. A mate of mine, a fellow avid ZX Spectrum gamer, had relatives who owned a flat in Paignton, Devon. We would spend the summer saving up loose change before making the pilgrimage to the arcades down in the Southwest. It was great being able to feed the machines all week but it just wasn't regular enough for me. It would have been cool to hang with my friends somewhere nearer to home and enjoy some great local multiplayer gaming. Arcades in those days were fairly seedy places without the glitz and glamour of Flynn's from Tron.
The beer was relatively well priced for London, and the cocktails were pretty amazing. The cocktails all have game related names and are designed to reflect aspects of the games. I got chatting to The Realm, a team of PC gamers who play as a team online who had never met IRL before. They had come down to London to meet up and drink at the Loading Bar. From what I heard, the cocktails had entertaining names, but could certainly pack a punch (click on menu below for a full view). Overall the atmosphere was cheerful, calm, and people were happy to chat about games and play with random strangers. For me, with most of my peers worrying about mortgages and school fees, it was nice to be in an environment where I could enjoy a genre I love so much without feeling ostracised.