Boardgames in the News: The Rise of the Boardgame Café?

It is just over two years since Thirsty Meeples opened in Oxford as one of the first boardgame cafés in the UK.  From the outset it has been very popular, building on the example set in North America where Snakes and Lattes in Toronto is often given as an example of a successful enterprise.  In fact, It has been so popular that there have been rumours of expansion or developing a second premises.  The way Thirsty Meeples works is very simple:  customers pay a cover charge which gives them access to the shop’s very extensive library of games for a period of time.  Meanwhile, the “games sommelier’s” serve drinks, snacks and help people choose something to play and teach them to play it if necessary.

Thirsty Meeples
– Image from Oxford University Scientific Society

Over the last couple of years, there have been a number of other boardgame cafés opening using a similar model, including the Games Hub in Edinburgh and Draughts in Hackney, London.  There are also moves afoot to open a café in Cardiff called Counters, and The Dice Cup in Nottingham which is scheduled to open in October, was the subject of a recent successful KickStarter which raised over £12,000.  There are rumours of people trying to open venues in Brighton and Bristol and more recently, another three crowd-funding campaigns have been launched for cafés in Exeter, Portsmouth and Preston.  How successful all these ventures will be, ultimately depends on the local clientele and the offerings as well as the overheads of course.  It has to be a positive trend, however, and is one that is going beyond the dedicated venues, with many more pubs and cafés offering games for customers.

– Image from