With the growing popularity of social networking websites, such as MySpace, it is not very surprising to hear that people are looking to extend the concept into other spaces. Unfortunately, "other spaces" all tend to be in the real world, as opposed to the digital one, where people are likely to be interacting and networking already. One new restaurant in Los Angeles thinks that they have come up with a good balance of real and digital interactions - whether it will be a success remains to be seen.
At uWink Bistro, the customers will have computer touch screens at their tables, from which they can order food without the need for a waiter/waitress. Once their order has been placed, they can play games on the screen or challenge other tables to tournaments. Diners will be sitting in the restaurant, physically with other people, but will virtually interact with the others around them.
Now, the restaurant creators have an unsurprisingly self-promoting blog about the creation of the Bistro that seems to contrast a couple of the points I mentioned above. For example, they say that they want their games to stimulate conversation, not stifle it. They also want the games to appeal to people of every gender and age, have breaks for food, be easy to use, etc., etc. But if you ask gamers, they will tell you not only that engrossing games are the games worth playing, but that a game people "can play" and "want to play" are completely different things. Games that are suitable for 8 year olds and 80 year olds alike are not going to be a draw. At least, they don't sound like they'll be a draw to their target audience of women ages 21-35.
The restaurant will be opening at some point in Woodland Hills, for those of you in the area who might be interested, but they company intends to make the Bistro into a chain. Does this sound like an appealing concept? Is this a restaurant that you would want to go to (especially if you are in the target age group)?