'Round these rainy parts, we play indoors. As in video games, Magic: The Gathering, and the odd round of Life. And while these interests are usually considered the definition of antisocial recreation, in Portland, you don't have to choose between drinks with friends, flirting IRL, and the love of the game.
Game Knight Lounge
This Williams Avenue nerd beacon boasts a collection of over 700 classic and new board games—a $5 cover gets you access to all of them—and claims to be Oregon's first "Board Game Pub." The menu may be sparse, but the main attraction are those amazing games played by a community of tabletop athletes reveling in a safe space.
The pre-eminent barcade on the eastside, Quarterworld is a renovated movie theater that for years has housed an extensive collection of pinball games, classic and new arcade cases, and even analog stuff like skeeball. A key part of the experience is the machine techs in white lab coats on staff who are prompt to fix malfunctioning machines and refund lost quarters.
Boasting countless board games, role-playing games, and card games for sale, Guardian Games has something for just about any tabletop gamer. This spacious den of nerdery features game nights, hosted D&D sessions, Magic: The Gathering competitions, and a bar with beer, cider and the obligatory soft drinks.
Even if you're going to Wedgehead more for the kitchy arcade atmosphere and less for actual game play, bring quarters. You're unlikely to get very far with your drink before you're sucked in by the flashing lights of the 25 pinball machines. The collection dates to the sport's glory day—the 1960s—and you can compete on machines from Iron Man to Iron Maiden.
The Nerd Out
As the name suggests, this is where the deepest of geeky interests are on display most proudly. Cosplay-friendly and wallpapered with comic strips, the Nerd Out is a fever dream of nerdery in a far more successful, fun and sincere way than any one minute of Ready Player One.
Cloud Cap Games
A cozy, wood-lined mom-and-pop shop, Cloud Cap harks back to the board and card games of an earlier age. The hand-selected, strictly analog stock may honor bygone gaming traditions, but the owners maintain a modern appreciation for community building, with a crowded event schedule that ranges from Magic: The Gathering summer camp sessions to wine-fueled Dames & Games nights.