By Ken Johnson
Over the past year, three gaming lounges have sprung up around downtown Bellingham, which is a little weird, because “gaming lounges” didn’t seem to exist five years ago.
College towns are magnets for odd business ideas. Some of these ideas, like Hops N Headz, a taproom with a family-fun vibe, are nice, but others, like Gather Bellingham, a new student-apartment complex, are built to suck money from your fanny pack.
So, are these gaming lounges fun activities? Or another scheme to take your money?
Rook and Rogue:
With all of the drunken Dungeons and Dragons players, the Rook and Rogue would be the most entertaining place to see a barroom brawl.
The Rook and Rogue is a board-game pub, and it lives up to the name: shelves of board games dominate the middle of the room. Most games are free to play, but if you want access to the role-playing games, you have to pay a premium price.
The service is a roller coaster ride. It might be 30 minutes until someone takes your order, but, once they do, they’re really sorry you had to wait so long.
A board-game pub seems like a fun idea, and the Rook and Rogue executes it well. It is all ages, which gives the place a comfortable atmosphere.
The aesthetic was mismatched. The vibe is a mix between Hogwarts and an old west saloon, with its impressive line of whiskey bottles.
It could be a good hangout spot for college students, except for the cost. A burger is around $11 and a drink is about $9.
Pro tip: If you’re going there to play board games, just order appetizers.
- 206 W Magnolia St, Bellingham, WA
- 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., most nights.
If you have never used a virtual reality headset before, and you don’t know anyone who owns one, Heady VR might be a good option.
A virtual-reality headset creates a digital and immersive world- it feels like you’re really there.
The phrase “virtual reality arcade” conjures up images of marvelous machines, like if the International Space Station had video games.
That is not the case with Heady VR. The experience of going to Heady VR is kind of like if a couple of guys you know invited you over to try out their halfway-working VR headsets and charged you $20 for their trouble.
Also, you can’t wear glasses with their headsets.
That being said, it is a locally owned business and, potentially, an interesting idea, if they hone in their equipment.
- 215 W Holly St suite b-28, Bellingham, WA
- 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., most days
Ruckus Room Arcade
Out of these three places, the Ruckus Room Arcade seems like the best option for college students. It’s lowkey and cheap.
The Ruckus Room is an arcade/bar, but it is more of an arcade than a bar. It is all ages and never open past midnight, which can be a downside for any night owls. The games are classic arcade games: Skee-Ball, pinball, and Mortal Kombat.
The alcohol is modest, think PBR, and all of the drinking is confined to a couple of tables in the middle of the room.
It may not be a great place to drink, but the Ruckus Room is entertaining and easy on the wallet. What more can you ask for?
- 1423 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA
- 2 p.m. to 12 p.m., most days.
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