The Toronto mainstay opens a new gaming dojo with an inaugural Smash Bros. tournament.
A&C Games owners Gar Wan and Chang Toy have always wanted to create an arcade in Toronto where everyone could come in, grab a console, and play some games. This past Sunday, the brothers opened A&C World, a gamer dojo and tournament arena, and it’s just two doors down from their store on Spadina Avenue.
“It’s all coming together,” said Chang, co-owner of A&C Games. “It feels good, but at the same time it’s been so much work.”
The brothers looked for locations that would be easily accessible for their customers and for the community. They set up tournaments at the nearby University of Toronto campus to drum up interest and they created a social networking community to build a group of followers. Then the karate dojo two doors down went out of business, and Gar and Chang found a permanent venue.
“The location couldn’t be better, right beside the store,” said Chang. “Two steps away, you can’t beat that.”
The space is large, and the mirrors hanging from the walls provide a little extra room. Game stations are set up in row after row along the edge of the main room, while Xbox, Playstation 3, Wii, Gamecube, and Nintendo 64 consoles light up the small screens that sit upon the desks. Gamers mash away at their controllers as observers watch from behind. In the back, arcade cabinets – with their sounds and flashing lights – bring players and quarters, and to play one game for one quarter is unlike anything seen in the two-dollars-per-play modern arcade. It’s a retro future, and it’s a venue where A&C and its community thrive.
“We call this our beta,” said Chang. “We’re doing this every weekend with a different game and a different tournament.”
On Sunday, A&C World held their first tournament, and while I thought about entering the Smash Bros. Melee, I relented after seeing the gamers pit themselves against one another. I had to stay objective and I didn’t feel like getting my ass handed to me.
“The turnout is definitely what we expected and hopefully we can build on this,” said Gar. “We wanted to create a gaming experience for everyone and you’re coming to our world, to our reality. We were going to call it the A&C Dojo, but I guess we talked it over and came up with A&C World.”
A&C Games plans to find more arcade cabinets and set up even more consoles within the next month. They'll also be holding the official opening of A&C World in June, and the dojo will be open on the weekends.
“Everyone seems to be having some pretty good fun,” said Samuel McDonaugh, a gamer. “I know A&C has been here for a while and they’ve set up something nice.”
McDonaugh and I played some Left 4 Dead before watching a few matches of Smash Bros. Melee, and there was a sense of community in the small space. Gar and Chang had a dream and it’s finally turned into something real. The brothers will be bringing gamers into their retro-inspired world, and they’re giving Torontonians a chance to find a home and a console to play.