by William Bauman
Photography Courtesy of Emilio Subia
Balance Patch is Boston’s first videogame café. When one walks in they are immediately dazzled by the size of the space and long rows of PC consoles; this place was made for gamers living in Boston or around the Boston area.
Founded by Peter Lind, Nick Johansson and Bryan Raseury, the three originally had the idea to start an electronic sports bar: a space focused on video game competitions and tournaments. This idea eventually evolved into a café modified for gamers who want to hang out, play or compete.
“We found that there wasn’t enough content to make [electronic sports] be the focus,” said Lind. “90 percent of the people walking in would only watch and it would pretty much just be a bar.”
Ever since they expanded from their sole focus on video game competition, the restaurant’s growth hasn’t stopped. Overtime the playing part became more and more appealing until it eventually turned from a bar into a full-fledged video game café.
Balance Patch offers a variety of consoles to play including PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and even Nintendo 64. The most available console is the PC, which are displayed in long rows throughout the huge restaurant.
“We try to keep up to date on any new games that come out like Mario Odyssey and the new Call of Duty,” said Lind.
Customers can create a username to play under and pay for the number of hours they want to play. These hours can be used over as long a span of time needed. If someone were to buy eight hours and then only play for two, he or she can come back and play the other six whenever desired.
Even though tournaments are not the main focus anymore, Balance Patch is still known for them and often hold events inviting gamers to compete. Some tournaments are weekly: Super Smash Bros Melee every Tuesday, Smash Bros 4 every Thursday and fighting game night every Friday. Other tournaments include League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
“Tournaments bring a wider demographic whereas our normal day to day crowd consists of students in the Boston area,” said Lind. “Tournaments draw from a wider area a little bit outside of Boston.”
People can find out about the events on Facebook and these tournaments offer people a way to discover this cafe. People come from far outside of Boston just to go to Balance Patch.
“I saw online about this Counterstrike tournament,” said James, 17, of Falmouth. “I called my boys up and we all decided to go. It’s way better than I thought it was going to be.”
Balance Patch is a spot where gamers can eat, play and interact with their own community in ways more intimate than through a screen or headset. Interacting with people while playing creates a positive and accepting atmosphere for gamers who don’t want to be isolated all the time when doing what they enjoy.
“I think the video game community is a pretty small community in Boston,” said James. “It’s good that we can all meet here. I am glad to have discovered this place.”