More thoughts on socialized gaming, aka competitive socializing

In last month's issue, we discussed how neither the term "competition socializing" nor what might be a better fit, "socialized gaming," captures the food-and-drink-centric nature of these type venues. The much-detested term eatertainment may still be a better fit, as it incorporates the food aspect of the experience combined with entertainment in its name. However, it only denotes a venue that offers both entertainment and food and drink, not necessarily one that combines the two into a single experience as opposed to the more traditional approach of two separate sequential experiences in the same venue.

What may be the most misunderstood nature of socialized gaming venues is that they don't belong as much to the location-based entertainment industry as they do to the restaurant industry.

When a large segment of consumers, including most millennials, choose a restaurant, they are looking for "a new experience." Yes, that can include unusual and foodie-worthy food and beverages. However, they are really looking for experience-based social environments that incorporate food and drinks combined with experiences such as a game night, live entertainment, or social games. Those added experiences push the overall experience and socialization to a higher level than just enjoying the food and drink alone. According to a survey by TouchBistro, 42% of millennials are influenced by a restaurant's entertainment offerings when choosing where to eat.

In reality, socialized gaming venues compete with other restaurants as much, maybe more so, than other entertainment venues. The fact that the food and beverage revenues exceed that for the entertainment in most socialized gaming venues substantiates this. True socialized gaming venues combine very approachable, high-repeat appeal, analog interactive games (that might be technology-enhanced) played by a small group of people who don't have to be experienced players. Unlike most sports, the competition is light-hearted and isn't taken very seriously. It is also different than many types of location-based entertainment, as socialized gaming includes trendy, high-quality food and beverage enjoyed by the players while the games are being played. The best-socialized gaming venues typically have a globally inspired menu and a curated beverage selection. The food and drink never play second fiddle to the entertainment. Instead, it is as important, if not more so.

The combination of the food and beverage with the social games is far more effective of creating a "social bonding" memorable experience than just a restaurant or typical entertainment venue experience alone.