Welcome to the second installment of Brisbane’s Best Jobs! If you missed the first post you can click here to see what it’s all about here.
This month my quest to discover Brisbane’s Best Jobs has lead me to place that is unique in not just in Brisbane but in Australia.
Imagine a job where your main purpose, your mission so to speak, was to create a space where people who love games can play to their hearts content with other people who love games too.
Pretty cool, right?
Now add cocktails, some guitar hero and a mean Dungeons & Dragons league and you have a job that is the envy of gamers and geeks everywhere…
Cormac Moore is the owner of Mana Bar, the only venue in Brisbane where the cocktail and the console meet.
The bar is a haven where game enthusiasts of all kinds can nerd out playing their favourite video, card or board games while sipping on a schooner of craft beer or sampling one of the bar’s wicked cocktails.
The bar opened in 2010 and since then has been a constant favourite with gamer/geek community. So how did Cormac end up hitting the job jackpot?
Although he’s owned the bar for just under a year, Cormac has actually he’s been a part of the Mana Bar since the very beginning.
Starting off as a bar tender, Cormac says;
“I really loved the idea behind the bar and wanted to contribute any way I could. Back then I didn’t have money or skills to contribute so what I gave was my time. I spent a lot of weeks at the bar in the lead up to the launch helping with getting it painted and set up for opening.”
For Cormac, the philosophy behind Mana Bar is all about giving people a place to be themselves.
It’s a place where they can find their “tribe” – people who share their interest in games and are passionate about the same things they are.
“It’s a place where playing games, watching anime or reading comics isn’t shunned but celebrated. General acceptance of that sort of thing isn’t easy to find, here it’s cool, we love it and will talk to you about it for ages.”
So what exactly IS a videogame cocktail bar?
The Mana Bar caters to a wide array of gaming and geek interests and has regular theme nights, events and gaming comps. But which games are the most popular?
“Things like Mario Kart and Smash Brothers pretty much never get turned off. Basically anything multiplayer is always fun to watch the crowds get into. Raskulls is a locally made game that has remained popular since opening which is great to see.”
Surprisingly it’s not just the video games that get a work out.
One of the bar’s most successful events has been their old school Dungeons & Dragons nights held regularly throughout the year. Card games such as Cards Against Humanity are also popular too, as are events like Pokemon Trivia Nights.
By it’s very nature the gamer/geek scene in Brisbane is always changing, with new trends, new games and new technologies coming out all the time. Cormac says that keeping up with these changes is a priority,
“It’s pretty much a constant game for us. Trying to grow with the audience and be aware of their wants and interests.”
In the bar’s early years one of the main challenges was overcoming the pre-concieved idea that games were just for kids. As gaming culture has matured the challenges have become more complex,
“The challenges we face now are things like gamergate, and many gaming communities being openly transphobic. Internalised misogyny or outright anti-feminist views are everywhere online.”
“The bar can’t be about that. Mana Bar is and should always be a safe space for everyone, and we’re fighting to keep it that way.”
Although Cormac wont hesitate to step in if people aren’t respecting this view it’s not something he relishes,
“I know I’m doing the right thing but it does leave a sour taste in your mouth. I pretty much always need a hug afterwards.”
Despite the challenges most people who come to Mana Bar are far too busy having a good time to cause trouble,
“People do get vocal and passionate about the games but it’s always in good fun!”
For Cormac getting to release his inner-geek every day at work is definitely one of the highlights.
“It’s not just the customers who get to be themselves there, I get to geek out and talk about my favourite games on a daily basis and it’s absolutely great!”
There’s also the satisfaction of being successful in the face of stiff competition from bars backed up bigger companies.
“When big bars ask “Wow how did you fill the place out on aTuesday?!” and I say “Dungeons & Dragons” it’s always really rewarding.”
Hanging out with fellow gamers, mixing kick-ass drinks and showing the big guys how it’s done – these are just a few of the things that make owning the Mana Bar one of the coolest jobs in Brisbane!
If this sounds like your idea of heaven then head to Mana Bar next Friday to help them celebrate their 5 year anniversary!
Mana Bar 5th Annivesary Geektacular
When: Friday 20th March from 5.00pm
Where: 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
For more info on what geeky delights will be in store on the night head to the Mana Bar Facebook page.
Do you have one of Brisbane’s best jobs?
If you or someone you know has an awesome job I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you reckon you’ve won the job jackpot!