Japan Opens First Officially Licensed Video Game Bar

In Japan, video game bars have notoriously encountered legal issues over the years. Despite their popularity, the Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS) has noted that not getting permission from creators can violate copyright laws.

In 2011, ACCS called on game bars across Japan to follow copyright laws, yet in 2018, several video game bars were shuttered over copyright claims. Now, a new establishment called Tokyo Video Gamers will open in Akihabara this September, claiming to be the first video game bar to have official consent from several game makers.

The bar is working with Sega, Arc System Works, SNK, City Connection (which owns the rights to Jaleco’s catalog), G-Mode (Data East games and Tetris), Paon DP (also Data East games), and Dotemu SAS. Despite their effort to cooperate with publishers, it still remains unclear if they will also need to seek approval from game companies and other copyright holders.

Tokyo Video Gamers, which differentiates itself from other gaming locations by being a full bar and restaurant, is located under the railroad tracks just a block away from the Akihabara Station. The collaboration with gaming companies doesn’t just extend to its featured arcade games. The bar offers special cocktails served in glasses and on coasters featuring art from companies like Sega and SNK.

The games are free to play as long as you order something from the menu. The staff is also willing to play against you if no other customers happen to be interested in your game of choice at the moment. Also, if you set the high score on the Space Invaders machine, they currently offer you a free drink as a reward.

Though Tokyo Video Gamers expects most customers to frequent the bar at night, it also offers discounted lunch sets for just 500 yen, allowing you to play games for free before heading back to work. In addition, there’s also a gift shop that sells video game-inspired merchandise, including the aforementioned cocktail glasses.

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