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Video Games League at The Bop Shop

by Alex Garrick-Wright -

There’s something for everyone in Shetland. While there’s famously plenty if you’re interested in wildlife, music, film and sports, there’s also a wealth of activities for just about any interest you can name. And now, thanks to The Bop Shop, competitive video games can be added to the list.

The Bop Shop, local creative hub and Shetland’s only record store, has launched its regular Games Night to cater for isles gamers. Bop Shop proprietors Jamie Hatch, Lyall Halcrow and Thomas Jones hope that these regular tournaments fill a niche in the local entertainment scene; and judging from the first night’s success, they’ve got the right idea.

The inaugural game was a stone-cold classic; Street Fighter II on the SNES, its gorgeous 16-bit graphics projected onto a large screen for all to see. With a dozen players, and a cadre of spectators eager for some virtual carnage, the scene was set for an interesting night.

The tournament was divided into two groups of six, with the top players moving into quarter, then semi-finals – before the ultimate contest. Up for grabs was a small, specially-made trophy and the glory of being the first holder of the coveted Bop Shop Games Night title belt.

For the first stage, each player had to fight all the others in their group to determine the quarter-finalists. Things got off to a spirited start; the iconic music and sound effects drowned out by cheers and cries from the spectators, and a spirited and hilarious running commentary by accomplished local comedian Thomas.

As the fights continued, the atmosphere was electric. Gasps, yells and breath drawn through gritted teeth were interspersed with laughter and chatting. Most of the matches were incredibly close, with spectators and players alike on the edges of their seats until the final bell every time. At one point, the music cut out mid-fight, replaced by Thomas breathlessly singing the tune until Jamie fixed the problem.

After an interesting raffle – where the prizes included PS4 and Xbox One games, Easter eggs and a boxed copy of the original Duke Nukem for PC (all the way from 1991) – it was on for the final fight. A ‘best of 5’ between Lyall and long-time Bop Shop supporter Andrew Lindsay (who donated the incredible championship belt).

Each bout came down to mere pixels of health, with Andrew narrowly edging out Lyall in the first two rounds. The atmosphere reached fever pitch in the third match, and the spectators went absolutely wild as Andrew delivered a narrow-but-decisive victory; a brutal triumph in 16-bit colour. Hilariously, and much to his chagrin, Andrew was presented with the belt that he himself had donated.

As everyone fell to relaxing and chatting, and the evening turned from tournament to party, the Bop Shop boys were excited by how the night had gone:

"It went really well,” Jamie said. “Everyone who participated seemed to be having a great time. We had as good of a turnout as we expected for our first public night and we hope it can only get bigger and better on future nights."

The next Games Night has already been arranged for Wednesday 24th April, with the game of the night being the fast, frantic and fun Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch. Andrew will be back to defend his title; but is anyone good enough to challenge him?

Tickets are £5, and places can be booked via The Bop Shop's Facebook page.

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