GAME ON

Adults are craving nights of fun and games, and northern Illinois venues are responding

Punch Bowl Social in Schaumburg
Punch Bowl Social in Schaumburg (Provided photo)
Emporium in Logan Square
Emporium in Logan Square (Provided photo)
FTW in Chicago
FTW in Chicago (Provided photo)
Main Event
Main Event (Provided photo)

Most restaurants and bars offer conversation, drinks and burgers.

Today, many folks, from a wide variety of age groups, are having a blast by enjoying more than the typical night out for a couple of drinks and dinner with friends. Instead, they’ve added gaming to the mix.

Some have been enticed with the latest technology, which is a far cry from when Pong entered homes with its simple two-dimensional table tennis game in the mid-1970s. While many don’t shy away from the latest and greatest arcade games, others do prefer to hark back to another bygone era and find themselves flocking to vintage video games, perhaps ones they remember playing or hovering over during their teen years when arcades were more attractive than smartphones. The younger generation also has been intrigued by classic gaming, giving it a go on Pac-Man, Centipede, Galaga and other unforgettable early era renditions.

It’s not just video games either. Folks are heading out more and more to enjoy each others company in a fun and mildly competitive arena. It could be simply a bowling alley that caters to the older crowd, a go kart raceway or a venue that offers a variety of old-school bar games as well as retro and state-of-the-art arcade games. These venues are proving that despite work, family and other responsibilities, adults still are very much interested in heading out to play.

Regardless if you’re simply in the mood to mix in some fun and games along with a drink and a bite to eat, a diehard competitor looking to secure bragging rights by kicking the butt of a friend in pinball, or looking to reminisce about the many hours and countless quarters you spent in malls during the indoor arcade era of the ’80s, you can find all this and much more at some really fun places that have become popular hang outs for adults these days in the Chicago area and suburbs.

So by all means, eat, drink, play. But please, no more of Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” during karaoke.

Here are some great local places to get your game on:

Dave & Busters
1155 N. Swift Road, Addison
1030 N. Clark Street, Chicago
49 Orland Square Drive, Orland Park
424 Hawthorn Center, Vernon Hills
www.daveandbusters.com

Since it first opened in Dallas 35 years ago, Dave & Busters has been an industry leader while continuing to grow to become one of the most well-known models of a restaurant that combines with an adult-oriented arcade and other games. Today, there are four Dave & Busters in the Chicago area and suburbs. With chef-crafted food, a very cool cocktail menu, hundreds of the best state-of-the-art arcade games, including DanceDance Revolution and Zombie Snatcher, and vintage ones like Pac-Man, Pop-A-Shot, Skee-Ball, as well as multiple pool tables and an enormous sports bar with seemingly countless TVs to watch games, Dave & Busters is quite the popular place for the adult crowd to gather for fun and laughs while enjoying delicious meals, drinks and gaming.

Laser Quest
644 E. Rand Road, Arlington Heights
1524-C Butterfield Road, Downers Grove
www.laserquest.com

You don’t have to be athletic nor do you have to be a kid to break a little sweat and have some fun with other adults by playing laser tag. With a multi-level maze, awesome special effects, including lighting and music, Laser Quest is a wonderful entertaining fun for those looking for a rush of adrenalin and to do something different, while also enjoying some competition as well as camaraderie with friends and co-workers. Laser Quest has combined those old pastimes of hide-and-seek and tag with a high-tech twist and has proven that you’re never too old to run around even if you’re already spending most of your time chasing after your own kids at home.

Level 257
2 Woodfield Mall, Unit A, Schaumburg
www.level257.com

There may not be any participation trophies for those who play the many great games at Level 257. But, everyone who participates in the fun by enjoying a craft beer, fine wine or top-shelf whiskey, as well as enjoys grabbing handfuls from the chef-crafted plates - that are born to be shared - is without doubt a big-time, noi doubt about it, winner. Build up a monstrous appetite in the social gaming lounge that features old-school classics like “Space Invaders” and pinball to high-tech multiplayer simulations and bowling. Guests have fallen in love with the shorter bowling lanes; after all, not everyone can roll like Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski.

Brunswick Zone
1515 Aurora Avenue, Naperville
1555 W. 75th Street, Woodridge
www.bowlbrunswick.com

Calling itself DuPage County’s coolest place to bowl, dine, play and celebrate, Brunswick Zone has multiple locations throughout the state, including in Naperville and Woodridge. Brunswick Zone features dozens of tricked-out bowling lanes, plush lounge seats, hi-def video walls and an enormous arcade that’s unlike what you’ve probably ever seen before. (That’s if you were around to enjoy the mall era of indoor arcades in the 80s while Wang Chung and Falco were owning the airwaves). There also are pool tables, while some locations, including Naperville, have laser tag and bumper cars. As for food and drinks, guests can order oversized shareable plates and countless other delectable items to get their fill.

Emporium
Fulton Market

839 W. Fulton Market, Chicago
Logan Square
2353 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
Wicker Park
1366 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
www.emporiumchicago.com

The word “emporium” is defined as a business establishment that specializes in products or services on a large scale. Now, with three locations in Chicago, “Emporium” has become a very popular bar/arcade. By combining the best arcade games of the past 30 or so years with a full bar that focuses on craft beers and whiskey, patrons can reminisce while digging holes in “Dig Dig,” making burgers in “Burger Time” or crossing highways in “Frogger” while sipping a variety of delicious drinks. Games at locations vary, with air hockey, foosball, pinball, pool and shuffleboard as some of the popular ones along with the arcade games. Additionally, there’s often live music and DJs and guests are invited to bring their own food.

FTW
322 E. Illinois Street, Chicago
www.forthewinentertainment.com

Munching on a bag of stale potato chips while in your pajamas playing video games can be a lazy, relaxing way to kill a few hours, but it’s nowhere near the amount of fun you can have when you head out to FTW for state-of-the-art gaming, chef-driven food and craft libations. We’re talking about more than 130 games, ranging from the classics to super deluxe present-day attractions, as well as mini golf for fun gaming challenges. 32 craft beers and gastropub cuisine to keep your appetite in check make a visit all the more worthwhile. FTW also specializes in a wide-range of events so it’s a great place to host birthday parties, corporate events and other team-building gatherings.

Game Works
601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg
www.gameworks.com

Game Works calls itself “The Ultimate Party Spot” and invites guests to enjoy great games and fuel their fun with delicious food and drinks while bringing their celebration to The Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg. Game Works offers an excellent combination of games to play, as well as watch, and food to eat and drinks to enjoy while doing it. Game Works also provides fun for the whole family, but also can be a nice hideaway for adults to find a little respite with friends and co-workers. Classic and modern arcade attractions grab the attention of patrons although many order a Funtastic! cocktail or one of the popular Smoothies with a Kick before, during or after playing.

K-1 Speed
2381 E. Army Trail Road, Addison
www.k1speed.com/chicago-addison-location.html

If you’re like Tom Cruise’s character Maverick in “Top Gun” and “you feel the need, the need for speed,” then you must “cruise” in (don’t speed, save doing that for later) into K-1 Speed. Calling itself the premier karting company in America, visitors enjoy the thrill and excitement of indoor go karts. If you’re looking for fun with your significant other, friends, family or co-workers, K-1 is an excellent option. K-1 also is the home of CyberSport, which combines lacrosse, basketball and hockey on custom-designed Cyber Cars. Two teams consisting of up to five players pass around a small ball using a special one-handed scoop to try to score goals. Arcade games are also available onsite.

Main Event
2575 Pratum Avenue, Hoffman Estates
28248 Diehl Road, Warrenville
www.mainevent.com

Ferris Bueller once said, “The question isn't ‘what are we going to do,’ the question is ‘what aren't we going to do?’” These are questions guests find themselves asking when they visit Main Event with billiards, bocce ball, bowling, gravity ropes, karaoke, laser tag, mini golf, rock climbing, video games and virtual reality all as possibilities. With so many options, including over 100 games onsite, your biggest problem might be finding enough time to take a break and enjoy the handcrafted food and sip on a cocktail with family, friends and co-workers from the full-service bar. But, it’s always a winning night when you make the time to do it, so do it.

Punch Bowl Social
1100 American Lane, Schaumburg
www.punchbowlsocial.com

If you’re the type of person that’s looking for something new school that’s gone old school and then gone new school again, then you’ll have to put Punch Bowl Social on your list of places to visit and hang out at. And, if you’re looking for something delicious to eat, you’ll find “culinary nirvana” along with a great variety of games to play. Bowling, billiards, karaoke, darts, ping-pong, corn hole and 80s arcade games and pinball are just some of the many game offerings. It’s a fine destination to meet colleagues after work as well to gather with friends during the weekend. Are you ready to lace-up those bowling shoes and have some fun?

WhirlyBall
1825 W. Webster Avenue, Chicago
800 E. Roosevelt Road, Lombard
285 Center Drive, Vernon Hills
www.whirlyball.com

You sometimes will bump into an opponent in basketball and you can legally check your foes in lacrosse and hockey, but in none of those sports are you also allowed to also cruise around in a bumper car, although hockey does have the Zamboni. In WhirlyBall, you take some of the aspects of those three sports to play a unique game where you bump into each other while driving a bumper car and scoop up wiffle balls. There’s also food and a sports bar involved, although you should visit there before playing or after you’re done. In addition to WhirlyBall, there’s also bowling, laser tag, climbing walls, arcade games, pool tables and more also available to keep the party going. Games vary by location.