How to Organize the Ultimate Retro Gaming Tournament

There’s no feeling in the world like achieving a new high score on your favorite retro gaming cabinet—except, perhaps, entering your initials and joining the hall of fame while your friends and rivals look on in awe.

The best way to bask in gaming glory is to gather your crew and arrange a gaming tournament for the ages. You’ll ensure all your quick-fingered friends are in one place to observe your most impressive gameplay technique. Even if you don’t walk away with high scores, you’ll have a great time eating, drinking, and trying out some new and classic arcade games. 

There are a lot of logistics involved in pulling off a video game tournament. Even casual, friendly gatherings involve planning, rules, and preparation. We’ve created this guide to help you curate a mind-blowing event that might become a new tradition. 

Keep reading to learn to put together an incredible retro arcade tournament without stressing yourself out. 

Step One: Choose a Venue 

Before you can invite friends and local gamers to attend your tournament, you’ll need to choose a venue. If possible, make a guest list in advance so you can choose a space that can accommodate all of your gaming tournament participants with room to spare. Ensure the space has ample seating, options for food and drinks, and the outlets and tech you need to set up your gaming stations. 

You can reduce your workload by hosting your tournament at a local arcade bar. There will be plenty of room to accommodate a crowd, plus plenty of games to play during downtime.

Emporium Arcade Bar has free seating reservations and a flexible outside food policy, with no drink minimum. Pay for a cash bar, hand out wristbands, or set up a group tab to simplify the process. 

Every Emporium location offers an unlimited token package to help facilitate seamless gameplay during your tournament. Reach out to your closest location to learn more. 

Step Two: Establish Your Gaming Tournament Rules

If you don’t set the rules, your organized tournament will become a free for all. You should establish your goals and regulations in advance so you can take charge once your participants arrive. If possible, make all the details public long before your event date, so everyone knows what they’re signing up for. 

During the planning process, make sure to decide on the following:

  • Which game you’ll be playing
  • Any special rules you plan to establish
  • Your overall tournament format
  • If there is a fee to participate
  • If there will be prizes (and what they are)
  • If you require registration or welcome walk-ins

We recommend browsing the list of retro arcade games available at your local Emporium Arcade Bar and choosing your favorite.

The easiest tournament format is a rolling high-score competition in which participants record their high scores throughout the event. You can offer a prize for the highest score of the day or simply hand out bragging rights.

The next time the crew gathers to compete, the previous high score will be the “score to beat.” Consider a prize like a crown or a trophy that the reigning champion can pass along when someone beats their score. This will keep your friends and rivals coming back for more.

Step Three: Invite Your Friends

Once you have the details down, spread the word and invite your friends. If there are rules involved, it can help to send out virtual invitations so everyone can read your guidelines at their leisure. Make sure to clarify whether you’ll be catering the event or if guests should bring their own food and drinks. 

In some cases, you might want to encourage participants to formally register or RSVP. This can help if you’d like to reserve tables at Emporium Arcade Bar. Small parties can reserve tables for free, which can save you and your attendees money.

You’ll also want to encourage registration if you plan on a tournament format involving brackets or two-player gameplay

Step Four: Have a Blast!

Once you’ve reserved a venue, chosen your game, set your rules, and invited your participants, you’re ready to have a great time! We encourage you to document your tournament, especially if you plan to make it a regular gathering. If you can show the world how much fun everyone is having, you might encourage new gamers to come on board and join in on the action. 

Consider choosing a new game each month to maintain interest in your ongoing tournament. Each Emporium location has a unique variety of retro arcade cabinets. If you’re in Chicago, consider a roving tournament and visit each of our locations for a new experience each time. 

Organize a Retro Gaming Tournament They’ll Never Forget

Achieving a high score in your favorite arcade games is cause for celebration… unless you’ve done it alone in your basement, with nary an observer in sight. If you dream of basking in the fame and glory of retro arcade game dominance, organizing a retro gaming tournament is the best way to make it happen. Gather your closest friends, camp out in front of your favorite cabinet, and prepare to break your personal record in good company. 

You can level up your event by holding it at your local Emporium Arcade Bar. If your group size is thirty people or less, you can reserve tables for free at most of our locations with no minimum tab. Book your tournament and see why elite and casual gamers alike have fallen in love with our bar arcade. 

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