by Jordan Danger
OTTAWA GEEK HANGOUTS: THE LOFT LOUNGE
Last week I had the sincere pleasure of meeting Mike Hopkins, co-owner of the new gaming lounge, The Loft. When I walked into the Loft (nestled on the top floor of an old stone house on Waller, just behind that blue-and-white, lighthouse-looking youth centre on the corner), I was really impressed by what I saw. Growing up geek, I’m used to the usual dungeon-like game rooms provided by some comic book and geek shops, and I expected the same; but this beautiful space is nothing like the dark smelly basements I was used to.
THE LOOK AND FEEL
The space is warm and inviting, with the natural beauty of the old building shining through. Along one long wall runs a huge length of bookshelves, housing the 784+ boardgames available for you to play while you chat, drink, and eat. It’s a cozy space while still being plenty large, and it struck me that this place doesn’t feel like your typical ‘geeky’ space—I could see bringing a ‘virgin geek’ here for an evening and being confident they’d feel just as welcome as any of us hardcore people.
HOW IT WORKS
The Loft charges a flat $5.00 fee for all guests, which provides you access to the boardgames for as long as you like. Guests are dissuaded from bringing their own games; why bring in your own and risk getting ketchup on them? Their website has an extensive library of all the games, so feel free to check in advance that they have the one you’re looking for. I’ll tell you right now, it’s pretty impressive: I even found Hungry Hungry Hippos on there. Clique-y games like Magic: the Gathering aren’t found here; there are lots of places around town, says Mike, for these types of games. The Loft is meant as a more social space, with games that anyone can quickly pick up and learn.
GEEK GIRL FRIENDLY? YES.
Owner Mike Hopkins is a really interesting fellow, and a natural supporter of the geek girl movement. He began collecting boardgames about three years ago after a life-altering surgery made it painful to sit and play computer-based games, which was his original pastime. Mike decided to make his new hobby into a full-time enterprise and credits the Toronto-based Snakes & Lattes for the inspiration. Mike and his partner knew they wanted a fair representation of women on their staff team, and actually ended up with 80% of their staff being female. You can read their bios on the Loft’s blog to learn more.
I was also really impressed to hear that all staff sign off on a non-discrimination agreement: while other staffing issues may be dealt with using the typical ‘three strikes’ approach, staff agree that any act of discrimination by a staff member against someone else based on their colour, creed, or orientation will be cause for immediate dismissal. Recognizing that Mike and Alessandro are both male, they also opted to provide all staff with the phone numbers for workplace harassment support—just in case any of their staff ever felt harassed but didn’t feel comfortable approaching their male bosses.
OVERALL: FOOD, GAMES, AND VIBE
Ambiance, games, staff, and food combined, the Loft is a definite feather in Ottawa’s geek cap. With their specialty personal pizzas and bite-size grilled cheese (so you don’t have to worry about greasy fingers while you play), this promises to be a great place to relax and enjoy the evening. They even have some vegan and gluten-free offerings, for those of us with food sensitivities.
Head on down to the loft and enjoy the ambiance, the games, and the time spent with friends. And hey, if you don’t have anyone to bring, visit the Loft on a Wednesday evening for Open Gaming night. Whether you’re a novice Scrabble kid or a hardcore settler of Katan, the Loft is your new home away from home.
The Loft Lounge
14 Waller Street, Ottawa
Jordan Danger is a veteran blogger, writer, and marketing consultant based in Ottawa, Ontario. She is also President and Editor in Chief of CapitalGeekGirls.com. Jordan blogs at GirlCrafted.com, a lifestyle blog about crafting life both literally and figuratively. She loves DIY projects, her dog, and Oxford commas.