The Rise of Board Game Cafés

The Rise of Board Game Cafés

by Intan Abu Daniel

“Board game cafés?” I can hear some of you saying. “You mean, the hipsters’ homage to retro geek chic?” Maybe it started out that way, when we were first introduced to this kitschy and retro-cool concept for a café. But when the hype didn’t die down, and a variety of patrons came in for a night of Cluedo, the retro cool concept turned into its namesake: a café, with board games, and no irony involved.

Its first introduction to Brunei came in the form of Ner Dee Café – a café that assures you that they are not retro geeks, they’re just geeks, and that’s okay. This identity is compounded by its concept: beverages are served in flasks, shots served in syringes, the only hints of hipster work at play here is forgoing sterile metallic tables for rustic, wooden tables (not very science-y) and an illustrated drawing of cartoons on one expanse of the wall.

DSC_0116Ner Dee Café

DSC_0104Keeping to the ‘geek’, drinks at Ner Dee are served in beakers with a syringe shot of flavour

Ner Dee was very well received. The inclusion of another board game café in the area – Games & Lattes – didn’t dampen their success, in fact, both are doing well. Patron preference of either café depends largely on an individual’s preference of board game (of which both are well stocked), and of course, preference of food and drink.

DSC_0067Board games at Games & Lattes

The fact that these two board game cafés can operate in close quarters and still thrive individually suggests that more board game cafés will open in the future. But what makes them such a success? Is it a hidden need to connect with people without the use of emoticons? To save yourself the hassle of purchasing your own board game? Or maybe it’s just nostalgia – playing a game with a group of people that doesn’t require a WiFi connection?  Whatever the reason may be, at some stage people opted for arguing over who gets to be on the blue team rather than entering a virtual reality world on a tablet.

Which is just fine by us. Risk, anyone?

Board Game Cafés in the region:


Ner Dee Café
1st Flr #F11 Blk F Setia Kenangan II, Kg Kiulap
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Tel: (673) 721 4977

Games & Lattes Café
Grd Flr #E9 Blk E Setia Kenangan II, Kg Kiulap
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Tel: (673) 223 5200


TicTacToe Board Game Café
Lot 7407 Jln Simpang Tiga
Kuching, Sarawak
Tel: 60195944188


CarcaSean Café
S-0-28 Grd Flr City Mall, Jln Lintas
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Tel: 60168224725

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