Enter The Netherworld
On a popular street corner in Brisbane, Australia there's a piece of real estate that has changed hands several times in recent memory. It was once a live music venue and pub known as The Step Inn, then a live music venue and pub called The Shamrock. And then, for something a little different, it was named The Underdog and served as a place people could get together to drink and listen to local artists. Almost like a live music venue and pub.
As of January this year it is now simply known as Netherworld, a live music venue and pub BUT this one's a little different. Live music/entertainment by itself is good. Live music/entertainment mixed with a steady flow of alcohol is great. Live music/entertainment with alcohol AND arcade machines, pinball, and retro consoles? That's Netherworld in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley and it's awesome.
I caught up with Benjamin Nichols, one of the three founders of Netherworld, to ask him some questions.
Six Months Later Gaming: Why call it Netherworld and have the hellish theme? Were you worried that it might turn off potential customers?
Netherworld: Hell no! We have a collective love to horror stories and fun genre, which extends to most games ever made. Given our position in the ‘wrong’ side of the valley, it felt natural to be in the Netherworld.
6MLG: What's the hardest part about starting a gaming bar? What would you do differently?
NW: It was a new thing for us to be honest! There was no real precedent in Australia for a gaming bar of this size. We worked incredibly hard during the fit out process, but if we had to pinpoint one thing it would be getting a start on getting the game site-ready earlier. Our techs did a phenomenal job, but even they were desperate for more time before we opened.
6MLG: 25,000 likes on Facebook is a huge feat. Have you been surprised by the reaction?
NW: It’s been rewarding on the social angle as we talked endlessly about how we’d present ourselves as a business, so it’s nice to see that the conversation we committed to worked. It’s not that complicated, we simply stuck to our guns on having fun and being inclusive in regards to alcohol, food and gaming.
6MLG: What's been your single favourite event so far and why?
NW: To The Tavern, We Quest For XP! It was an interactive RPG adventure in the bar where you could interact with actual NPC’s and be given quests that you achieved in return for XP. The more XP, the more loot you got. It went incredibly well, though we immediately found the holes in the format. We can’t wait to do it again!
6MLG: What's the Hellmouth Diner's (Netherworld's built in restaurant) most popular menu item?
NW: It’s the Burgatory, a classic American style burger available both carnivorous and completely vegan!
6MLG: I've been to a few conventions and I see you've adopted a common practice, but I don't get it. What's with the pins?
NW: Pins are great! Dorks like us like collecting things, especially if they’re rewards. A bunch of us collect pins ourselves, so we thought we’d add them in so that denizens could physically show how committed they were to the Netherworld and gaming cause.
6MLG: Given unlimited resources, what's the one thing you would love to see at Netherworld? It could be a special event, new features, or anything else you can think of.
NW: Another 200 square metres we can add more seating and machines to. But as I’ve repeatedly told myself for the last few months, we’re going to be sensible. Ish.
6MLG: If the denizens of Netherworld are looking for more places around Brisbane to visit, where would you recommend?
NW: We’re big fans of local gaming store Vault Games, as well as local comic stores Comics Etc and Secret Identity. As far as bars go, our older sibling is The Scratch and we also love Brewski on Caxton St who have great beer and brilliant vegan and not vegan food fare.
6MLG: Any big upcoming events or anything you want to plug?
NW: Hell yeah, we’re doing a carnival themed event throughout all of EKKA which finishes off with the quest to find the ultimate denizen - the best cross platform gamer in Brisbane, covering arcade, consoles and pinball!
6MLG: Any final words for our readers?
NW: Brisbane is great and it’s going to get better. Make sure you get out there and support local, independent places you enjoy!
Netherworld are showing everybody how to run a gaming bar. With regular trivia and movie nights, pinball and arcade machine tournaments, a cycling selection of games to play on retro consoles, and a wide selection of food and drinks to choose from.
A huge thanks to Benjamin for taking the time to answer my questions, and to everyone else involved with Netherworld for making it such a key part of the community. I can't wait to see what the future holds!