Competitive socialising is a new way of interacting that has revolutionised how we mingle, converse and associate with others, but what is it?
What is Competitive Socialising?
In basic terms, it is the act of engaging in games and activities, whilst socialising with family and friends over food and drink.
Since the world went into lockdown in 2020, there has been a significant change in how we connect with each other, both online and offline. We have also seen a huge influx in the popularity of interactive and immersive experiences as innovative individuals seek new ways to bring pizazz into their lives.
“The process of employing a strongly developed game and placing it into a captivating and dynamic environment is the essence of what competitive socialising is. It is this visionary union that’s driving growth in the current marketplace.” - Designworks
With people eager to experience something new and unique with family and friends, venues, brands and companies are seeing this as an opportunity to expand their offering. From adventure golf to interactive game shows, immersion into the world of your favourite television shows to battling it out at shuffleboard, beer pong and even axe throwing, these activities are now being enjoyed by the masses, but with a twist. They are being mixed in with a high-end bar and food stalls offering a variety of foods, which is heightening senses all around as socialisers embrace a fun-filled evening within one space and location. The perfect example being Boom Battle Bar, the world’s first battle bar, which is opening its doors all over the UK.
Believe it or not, good old-fashioned board games continue to remain a staple amongst many friendship groups and families with Chance and Counters, a board game bar-cafe taking the competitive socialising industry by storm. Having originally opened its doors in Bristol, they have experienced a vast amount of success and now have a number of venues across the South West, as well as one in Wales.
Although this form of socialising and competition can also be done through various platforms such as social media and messaging apps, it is often more effective with a full body immersive experience and face-to-face conversations.
By using competitive socialising, people are able to express themselves more freely and creatively than ever before, but how has it changed the way we communicate?
How Has it Changed the Way We Communicate
This new form of communication has changed the way we interact with others in many ways. Competitive socialising allows us to build relationships that are based on mutual respect and understanding instead of just surface level interactions. It has enabled us to be more expressive when communicating with friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. By collaborating on experiential levels we can make strong memories that last, as well as meaningful connections, as we share our thoughts and feelings in a more engaging manner than ever before.
Competitive socialising has also changed how companies communicate and market their products / services as they see it as an opportunity to engage with customers and build loyalty on a visceral level. Companies are using various strategies such as gamification and influencer marketing to reach out to their target audiences and get them involved in competitive activities that will help them promote their brand.
A few years ago Red Bull opened a gaming sphere, underground eSport bar, in London and it has everything you would expect from an eSports venue, from neon-strewn PCs and large TVs to chunky headsets and the latest Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft consoles. By opening a content studio and venue that supports creators and esports professionals, as well as collaborating with the big names in gaming, Red Bull is promoting the brand and putting it on the map as the future home and supporter of sports and technology evolution.
Technology as a Fuel to the Rise of Competitive Socialising
Technology has revolutionised the way we socialise. It has enabled us to stay connected with friends, family, and even strangers across the globe. But technology is also fuelling the rise of competitive socialising - giving people an exciting new way to connect and bond with one another. From online gaming tournaments to virtual escape rooms, technology is enabling people to play together in ways that were never before possible.
Technology allows another field of simulation, stimulation, and immersion, and through this physical and digital interaction with the game, participants are offered a completely unique and engaging experience.
With the Shoreditch experience already up and running, Platform Canary Wharf is due to burst onto the scene next month and will bring a ‘next-level gaming bar’ to London. The concept will be home to 24 semi-private console gaming booths that will have current generation consoles from Nintendo Switch to Playstation. There will also be ‘service’ buttons in each booth that will allow the 250 guests to order food and drink to their table at the press of a button, as well as the offering of bottomless brunch.
Additionally, who doesn’t love to soak up an exciting game show on TV on a Friday and Saturday night, with a secret desire to get physically involved in one ourselves? Do not fear - Gameshow Studios is arriving this Spring and will provide a space where everyone can experience the thrill of being a TV game show contestant, surrounded by friends in your own private booth. Full of glitz and glamour, the experience is due to replicate the glossy television studio, tense music, bright lights, impractical prizes, a charismatic host of the much loved television game shows, but with some special cocktails and food thrown in on top. As London’s first ever interactive game show experience, the 90-minute show will take teams through a series of challenges as they fight their way to the top of the leaderboard, battling against all the other booths/contestants taking part in the experience. Technology will churn out rounds of questions, tasks and finger-fast bonus questions before adding up all of the points to crown the winners instantaneously.
The Pros of Competitive Socialising & How It's Affecting Human Interaction
In the modern world, competitive socialising has become a popular way of interacting with people or competing against others in a fun and exciting way. It can have many positive impacts on our ability to interact with others in meaningful ways.
On the whole, a majority of adult competitive socialising activities can be enjoyed by a wide range of individuals from the ages of 18 to 118. Appealing to a diverse crowd, the inclusivity of playing games and socialising in this way is highly valued by a majority of society, with the notion of coming together for experiential and immersive experiences being highly sought after.
Keeping the cost of play relatively low allows for all demographics to take part, as well as offering a selection of activities that can be enjoyed separately, or in affordable packages to accommodate all budgets. This also means that there is variety available for those different alternative nights out, such as students looking to escape the SU, work socials for the team building enthusiasts, those seeking to spice up date night, and family and friends changing it up from the board game sagas at home.
Future-proofing Visitor Experiences
According to Gartner,Inc., “by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and/or entertainment.” With the metaverse growing fast, competitive socialising venues can jump on board early and run away with ideas and offerings to the masses when it comes to gaming and entertainment. From VR to AI there are so many ways to bring people together to compete with each other in that space and time, or even another group in a different location from anywhere in the world. This whole idea gives competitive socialising and visitor experience a whole new edge and secures its position for the future, which for many is exciting, as daunting as it may seem.
There was a time when people would spend their night socialising on the dancefloors, taking pictures on their mini Canon cameras and sharing them amongst friends before planting them on Facebook, in a new album about that one night out. However, due to the pandemic and evolving societal trends, we are seeing the continual closure of nightclubs throughout the country and world, with Britain having 20% fewer nightclubs than pre-pandemic, March 2020.
Consumers are seeking new and exciting ways to socialise and share experiences with their friends, as well as on social media. Advances in technology have brought about new gaming concepts and enhancing improvements to some traditional games and we are lapping them up. Having “instagramable” spaces to enjoy a variety of socialising activities with food and beverages is where these new leisure venues are really exploding. By having themes, concepts, and stories to tell, people are excited to go back again and again, sharing their immersive experience with others and online, as they become ‘THE place to be.’ For example, Junkyard Golf’s mission is to make crazy golf, crazy fun. Known for their mashed up golf courses, bizarre holes, weird cocktails, and bad puns, there are innumerable “capture THAT” moments that are perfect for those social media inspirations.
Breathing new life into tired high streets
With these new leisure venues full of activities springing up around the country, taking advantage of empty retail units on the high street, it is no wonder city centres are experiencing an increase in footfall around these new centres. These sorts of venues extend dwell time and support businesses in their vicinity, but also have the ability to keep up with changing trends, ensuring their longevity and enhancing their levels of success, which is good news for sustainability.
Providing space for competitive socialising is getting people away from their online computer games and getting them out and about, socialising with friends. They promote and offer spaces of increasing possibilities for a safer, more diverse and interactive social scene on our high streets both day and night.
With the concept of competitive socialising growing rapidly, is it just a craze or does it have a future?
The Future of Competitive Socialising
Competitive socialising has become an integral part of our lives in the digital age and will only continue to grow as technology advances. With more and more people conscious of their health, time, and money, going out for a boozy night in a club has drastically diminished. People are still looking for a world of escapism and competitive socialising is the answer. Consumers continue to gravitate to unique experiences and the ability to create memorable moments for themselves and with others, not just for social media. Entertainment is altering to reflect this and brands / venues leading the way in this market will need to invest in bespoke design to deliver a completely new experience that has not been seen before, surprise and innovation will be key for those that succeed.
In an age when everything is documented by consumers on social media, storytelling is key to bringing the experience to life. Designing interiors that provide ‘insta-worthy’ moments will win over the social generation and help venues gain recommendations through word of mouth and influencer marketing. However, it is important that substance remains full and all-encompassing. An experience needs to be true and span all elements from game-playing to food and drinks, as well as service and atmosphere, which will determine if the crowds want to stay and have fun, and ultimately define success.
This is why many new venues that are popping up are pushing the boundaries with imaginative play – for example, Par59 is a brand new venture by Wales International Football star, Gareth Bale. Home to a premium bar, independent kitchen, casual dining area, and two custom-designed mini-golf courses boasting 9 holes each, this slick new space for socialising is the ultimate adults-only destination in Cardiff and Bristol.
We know that this new way of socialising is only increasing in popularity and venues all over the world are using it to their advantage. Knowing the benefits of commercialised and competitive socialising, what it can do to help build communities, deepen friendships and offer an inclusive environment is tremendous.
Finding solutions to ensure that a majority of the games offered are viable for all is crucial in ensuring the future of competitive socialising. Access routes and inclusive rates for games and packages is fundamental for the businesses to think about, with design also being extremely crucial to how successful the venue will be.
All in all, we think competitive socialising is fun and exciting and we cannot wait to see where it goes next as technology continues to advance. Competitive socialising enables us as humans to combine interaction, technology and create a sense of community during a time we find ourselves being more isolated as individuals…