Redbrick Gaming and Travel Writers discuss the best arcade bars that Birmingham has to offer

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Lane 7 – Ilina Jha

I first visited Lane 7 on an afternoon trip with my friend and her recent ex. Yep, I know. It could have been very awkward.

Lane 7, which is housed in The Cube in the Mailbox, has a bowling alley, bar, karaoke, and arcade games

Thankfully, it wasn’t. Not just because my friend and her ex were super chill about being ‘broken up but let’s-stay-friends,’ but also because Lane 7 provided plenty of opportunities for fun distraction. Lane 7, which is housed in The Cube in the Mailbox, has a bowling alley, bar, karaoke, and arcade games. We visited Lane 7 primarily to go bowling, and we had a great time. There’s a good range of different ball sizes to use, and you can enjoy a drink from the bar while waiting for your next go. The only thing I should mention is that you ought to wear closed shoes – my open-toe sandals were not allowed for bowling, but I couldn’t the alley’s shoes without any socks! To be able to play, I ended up having to borrow my friend’s socks – not the ideal situation (and probably only possible in this case because I’ve known this particular friend a very long time). Save yourself the trouble and just wear sensible shoes to Lane 7.

After bowling, we enjoyed a classic game of shuffleboard. We didn’t have time to try any of the arcade games, but I would definitely be interested in giving them a go on my next visit. And I wouldn’t say no to a bit of karaoke!

F1 Arcade – Sophie Webb

Formula 1 is the only sport I find vaguely interesting to watch. As such, whenever I’ve been walking through Chamberlain Square in Birmingham city centre, the gleaming F1 Arcade has always caught my eye. Large windows display the arcade’s sleekly-designed, futuristic interior – or at least, what you can see of it through the crowd of people inside.

The main attraction is the head-to-head and team racing available on driving simulators

I was familiar with the concept of F1 Arcade, and the fact that sister locations exist in London, Boston and Washington DC. I had read somewhere that drivers Lando Norris and Logan Sargeant, plus McLaren team principal Zak Brown, are investors in the franchise. In other words, the arcade is officially endorsed.

The main attraction is the head-to-head and team racing available on driving simulators. Very few of us are likely to go professional as F1 drivers, so an hour or so on the racing sim would be the closest we get to the experience. The arcade’s website advertises ‘skill levels ranging from rookie to elite’, so there should be something for everyone. Additionally, watch parties are hosted for F1 races broadcast on TV. Racing aside, there are plentiful food and drink options, plus the cocktail bar is inspired by ‘the glamorous history of F1’, providing the only opportunity where drinking and driving is appropriate.

Everything adjacent to F1 costs an arm and a leg – tickets to attend races, merchandise and so on. I did not believe the F1 Arcade experience would be any different, and so I have never entertained the idea of visiting, as much as I think I would enjoy it. Sure enough, 30-45 minutes of gameplay starts at almost £16 per competing driver. This high-tech bar looks impressive, but for a gaming night out, its entry prices render it less accessible than its affordable alternatives.

Hollywood Bowl Arcade – Halima Ahad

Located in Resorts World, the Hollywood Bowl Arcade has lots of fun and adventure to offer visitors as well as being attached to the iconic bowling alley. It is only half an hour away from the City Centre of Birmingham and very much worth the journey there. As well as this, it is only five minutes away from Birmingham Airport so perfect for those who want a bit of excitement before or after their travels away from the city.

I was mesmerized with the old school and retro atmosphere of it all

When I first entered the Hollywood Bowl Arcade, I was mesmerized with the old school and retro atmosphere of it all. There were some typical arcade games, such as the coin pusher and the basketball hoops, but there were also many modern games dotted around the arcade. Visitors must play the games to the best of their ability in order to earn a number of tickets and win prizes with these tickets.

Whenever my family and I go down to Resorts World, we always try to pay a visit to the Hollywood Bowl Arcade as the fun atmosphere of it brings us back constantly. I could not recommend the arcade more as it has all the enjoyable vibes as well as being for all ages. No matter what your gaming ability is, the Hollywood Bowl Arcade is welcoming to all and I hope to visit it again very soon.

Chance n’ Counters –  Jess Parker

The Birmingham branch of Board game café chain Chance & Counters is based in Digbeth, amongst the colourful range of businesses that have made The Custard Factory their home. Open every day of the week from midday, the café boasts over 600 games, is dog-friendly, and is wheelchair accessible. The location is wedged between NQ64 and The Mockingbird Cinema, marking a brilliant stop before a movie night or trip to a fellow arcade bar.

Chance & Counters charges a mere £2

For full access to their giant library of board games, Chance & Counters charges a mere £2, however, those who wish to skip the gaming and focus on the food and drink can skip the extra fee. Every Monday, the gaming charge is half-price from 6pm onwards. Chance & Counters offers 10 lines of craft beer and cider,  and a range of mouth-watering burgers, fries, and all the rest. For the less booze-inclined gamer, the spot also offers espresso from Clifton Coffee and tea from Bird & Blend.  Although you can absolutely attend Chance & Counters solo, the venue encourages social gaming. If you come on your own or with a group too small for your desired game, the café will match you up with other folks interested in getting involved.

Chance & Counters also has its own shop, where gamers can buy games or branded merch. Although none are listed for the Birmingham location as of February 2024, Chance & Counters also runs themed events for dedicated gamers or pure beginners. The site is versatile, and caters to all your culinary and tabletop needs.

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