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Competitive socialising in Amsterdam

Why should kids hold the monopoly on playing games? There's been a recent surge and in gaming culture, with everything from video games and board games to arcades and karaoke popping up in pubs around Amsterdam. Here are a few great places that are sure to 1UP your weekend plans, so shuffle the deck, roll the dice and have some fun! 

Duke of Tokyo

Having just won the 2018 award for ‘Best Slash Concept’ at Amsterdam’s Foodbloggers awards and having been shortlisted for this year’s Nightlife award at the Entree Awards, Japanese-style karaoke bar Duke of Tokyo is a must for the nightingales among us. And if you can’t sing, at least come down for a sip of sake. Are you a gamer? Try the Akihabara booth, named after the Tokyo neighbourhood known for video games and electronics. Or, if you’d like a taste of the world’s largest zebra crossing, try the Shibuya booth, modelled after the busy shopping district and intersection – the sounds and flavours of this futuristic setting give you a taste of Tokyo.

Friends & Foes

If board games are your cup of tea, then Friends & Foes is just the shop for you. It’s all about the games here, from spending an afternoon browsing board games to add to your collection, to a comfortable yet exciting evening out playing with your allies (and battling your enemies!). No pretences here: just good old-fashioned fun. For a €2 entry fee you’ll gain access to one of the generously-sized playing tables, and why not add a nice cuppa? Tuesday and Thursday evenings are given over to game communities descending from all over town to play games such as Dice Masters and the Game of Thrones card game. The owners are a lovely couple who might just impart some of their knowledge so you can get yourself ahead of the game. Check the website for events, opening times and available games.

Mooie Boules

Mooie Boules people playing jeu de boules
Image from Mooie Boules

Amsterdam welcomes a first in the field of French competitive entertainment: Jeu-de-Boules paradise Mooie Boules. Not only does Mooie Boules hold 500 square metres of sandy grounds for the sport, there’s also a food court with six different food concepts by renowned chefs. Those not into French cuisine needn’t worry: there’s Hawaiian poke bowls, Middle-Eastern gems, pho of all kinds and plenty of other dishes to give you everything you need for une victoire immense. You’ll need the energy, as boules is not the only sport on offer: oh yes, there’s dancing too. So, if you’ve had enough of throwing those boules, how about throwing down some moves on the dancefloor? There’s live music and DJs every Friday and Saturday.

TonTon Club

One thing the Netherlands never really used to have was arcades. Five years ago, however, the TonTon Club turned that around. This is the place to feed your arcade nostalgia: Dance Dance Revolution, Mega Tetris, Button Bash and Pacman are only a handful of the line-up happening here. And not only are there games, but milkshakes too! (Try the jawbreaker, it’s bound to get you fired up and to the top of your game). There are three locations, one in the city centre, one in West and one (also in West) called PUCK, which is all about air hockey. Get your competitive streak out and take it on a trip down memory lane.

Culture Games Amsterdam

On a scale from snacking on Gouda to slurping down raw herring, how Dutch are you really? Culture Games Amsterdam is a group experience where the goal is to become as Dutch as possible, and if you're already Dutch, to become even more Dutch. Steeped lovingly in Dutch culture, the challenges are both collaborative and competitive. First you'll be given a new Dutch identity and costume and then you'll compete in a series of games that teach you about Dutch culture (and yourself). There's a scoreboard to track points and the winners receive golden prizes (okay, cheese). And really, who cares about the points? When you are enjoying Dutch music, snacks and beers with friends, there are no losers. 

Het Lab

Think playing games is all about using your mind, sitting back and relaxing? Think again. Actually, I’m not sure if bouldering constitutes gaming, but Het Lab definitely deserves to be on this list. It’s fun, physical and user-friendly (for those of us not into the intricacies of game instruction manuals). And you get to use muscles you didn’t even know existed. Climb the stepping stones to your victory.