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Gamer Sunday has been growing at Dickens Pub since mid fall
Every Sunday — with a sign outside proclaiming "Game on" — Dickens Pub in downtown Calgary is attracting a new crowd to the venue.
Gamer Sundays is all about, well, gaming. Patrons have a large variety of board games to choose from, and they are also invited to bring their own. At the same time, video games like "StarCraft II" and "Street Fighter" are being streamed on the projector screen.
"I love the random looks from people who don't know what's going on in here when they come check it out, it always happens," says bartender Ryan McEathron, 27.
The idea for the event started with McEathron, an avid gamer, looking for a place to host tournaments of "Heroscape," a turn-based miniature war game, with his friend and fellow bartender Miles Kelley.
"We asked the owner if we could host our tournaments here at Dickens Pub, he gave us the go ahead, and we figured why not do other games too? Why not open it to the public and see what happens?"
And so, Gamer Sundays was born.
The event, which started in November 2011, has been growing steadily ever since, McEathron says.
Gamer Sundays started off with six guys hanging out together playing games. Now, there are more than 30 attendees.
"Whenever you're starting something new, you've got to take it in baby steps. You can't just dive in and throw all your eggs in one basket and just go from there," says Kelley.
"The only problem we've had is one guy came in off the street and called one of our other customers a nerd. We sat him down and told him, 'Listen, they're here to do their thing, you do not make fun of our clientele.'"
Kelley believes that the gaming community in Calgary is scattered and that Gamer Sundays will help give them a place to mingle, with the ultimate goal to make Dickens Pub the best bar to hang out on a Sunday.
"I would definitely come back," says Austin Winters, a student at SAIT.
"The atmosphere is perfect for all different kinds of gamers," says Winters, an avid "StarCraft" fan.
McEathron attributes the success of Gamer Sundays to the fact that gaming has become more of a mainstream hobby. He believes that the Internet has made gaming a lot more social than it used to be, and that he's surprised that Dickens Pub is one of the first bars to try and tackle this new front.
"Back in the day, I loved watching the original 'StarCraft.' I never dreamed I'd be able to do that in a bar with my buddies," McEathron says.
"One of my first childhood memories is my dad keeping me up late so that I could show him how to beat level four of the original 'Super Mario,'" says a smiling Kelley. "When video games first came out, people were getting called nerds and it was a derogatory term, I feel [it] is starting to change now."
McEathron says he believes there's a demand for events such as Gamer Sundays. "We're doing a good job if people are coming back."
"I'm excited every week," Kelley says. "It's a long day for me because I'm here first thing in the morning and I'm the guy locking the doors at night, but I love my Sundays, I really do. I can't think of a better job. I get paid to play games and serve people beer."