After moving to Bangkok and finding a lack of modern gaming venues, three French pro gamers decided to open a place where the casual and elite can meet to play the latest titles in living room-style comfort.
Romain Noel, Ilyes Aoudia, and Benjamin Aime – all in their late 20s – just opened Bamboo E-sport Center, a 21st century update to the classic game cafe offering the latest competitive and cooperative games for the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.
“I feel like its a good area with mostly expats and Thais with good life quality with a bit of income,” Aime said of the location. “This is typically the crowd we are looking for, we are not looking for tourists. We want to implement locally and try to have a lot of visibility through social media.”
Aime has competed professionally in the fighter scene, racking up fatalities in Mortal Kombat 11, while Noel kicked things around in sports titles such as FIFA.
Inside casuals and pros can hone their skills in what amounts to many players’ dream game cave, tricked out with 10 gaming stations built around comfortable sofas awash in the glow of colorful LeD lighting. There are shelves filled with gaming accessories and a bar selling gamer fuel and snacks.
And if the rows of PS5s and Switch consoles don’t appeal, Bamboo offers a wide play area for VR games on the Oculus and PSVR2, Sony’s recently updated PlayStation headset.
In addition to those dropping in to play, Bamboo also hosts tournaments. Aime noted that players come in all ages.
“In our Tekken tournament, the winner was 40 years old, the FIFA player was 18,” he said. “All the tournaments we had last week was diverse in crowd.”
Bangkok once had internet cafes on every block and arcades in most malls where gamers could spend hours playing PC games and arcade hits. But changing economics and habits see people now play from the comfort of home. Bamboo’s founders bid to expand the gaming scene with their new spot located just off Ekkamai Road began last year.
“We started with the idea last summer. Preparation took four months,” Aime said.
So, what’s available to play?
All the PlayStation 5s have most online multiplayer hits including Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, FIFA 23, Fall Guys, PUBG, Genshin Impact, Rocket League, Fortnite, Mortal Kombat 11, Among Us. A large screen shows PSVR2 games such as Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon: Call of the Mountain on rotation.
On the Nintendo Switch side, there are the latest titles including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Party, Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo Switch Sports, as well as It Takes Two – a story-rich, co-op adventure for two that this reporter would definitely recommend to any type of gamer.
“We try to diversify in order for anyone with any kind of interest, no matter if they come from PlayStation 5, VR, or Nintendo Switch, we have all the latest games available,” Aime said.
Don’t see a game you want to play? Aime said they will pay for and install any that is requested.
And while Bamboo e-Sport Center brings people together for couch gaming, via split-screen or LAN, it also has fast Wi-Fi to accommodate single-player gamers looking to play online.
Despite being relatively quiet during a recent daytime visit, Bamboo gets busy at the tournaments it hosts several time a week for games like Mario Kart 8, FIFA, and Tekken 7.
Tournaments play out across six TVs simultaneously to save time, with a scoreboard displaying the rankings at the end.
Aime said they are collaborating with the Thailand e-Sports Federation to host officially sanctioned events.
Players can also skip the public tournaments and book time to play private tourneys.
As of right now, one-hour passes are THB250, two hours go for THB400, and a full day pass is THB500. Tickets for 10 are available for the same time periods at THB2,000, THB3,500, and THB4,000. A membership system is planned.
Bamboo E-sport Center
11am to 2am, daily
Apai-Loft, 21 Soi Ekkamai 22
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana