It’s gotta be every gamer’s dream. A place to enjoy video games that isn’t your living room. Have some drinks with your friends, maybe challenge a stranger to a friendly match. You can practice your combos in a public setting so you get used to the pressure of having an audience while you play, but with room to grow. Hey, you could even make a friend! Your mom definitely can’t nag you and your friends for being noisy here.
This is Imperium, an e-sports bar and video game lounge. It’s the first of its kind in the Philippines, and we got to sit down with the owner, Raphael Gancayco, and got him to answer some questions.
This is what your eyes will be treated to as you walk through the door.
What inspired the idea of an e-sports and video game lounge?
Raph (R): I played professional Call of Duty in the States, and I realized that e-sports was getting huge. I followed a lot of League of Legends, Starcraft, and one day I wanted to go to what we call a Barcraft, which is essentially a Starcraft watching event. Sort of like a sports bar, but instead of sports, there’d be Starcraft. Problem was, there was none in my area. The closest one was a 2 and a half hour drive, which I made, and there weren’t even that many people. I realized that the scene there was big, but not big in my area. Being from the Philippines (writer’s note: Raph grew up in the US), I felt that this would be a good thing to bring here because Filipinos are very techie and e-sports seems like something we could build on. I feel like the Philippines can have the same scene skill-wise and following-wise as Korea. We just need to work together to make it there. I just wanna show the community that we’re serious about helping the growth.
Is this a solo venture, or do you have partners?
R: I have two main partners. Mongie and Joel Katigbak.They’re brothers.
Who did you consult on all of this before setting up?
R: No one. I thought of the idea for it, and refined it a little bit. It was originally supposed to be an e-sports watching facility, then I realized that I could help Philippine competitive e-sports by making it a tournament facility as well. I realized that there were also a few bars with the same concept as mine, and I borrowed a little bit from them, obviously, but it’s mostly my idea. I actually did all the feasibility studies and number-crunching on my own.
How long did it take for Imperium to come to life?
R: Roughly three and a half months. I started number crunching in July, and Joel did all the design for the bar. Still quite a short amount of time. Been here close to three months, and now it’s open. It’s been quite fast. Basically, we built it so fast that there was not even enough time to build hype.
It’s possible to play on all of those screens simultaneously.
What is Imperium’s main purpose?
R: Imperium’s main purpose is that it’s a tournament facility, it’s an e-sports training facility, it’s a bar, it’s a casual gaming facility. It’s all of that, rolled into one.
The word “Imperium” means absolute power. Is that significant to this place?
R: It does mean that, and it’s also the word “Empire” in Latin. I wanted to name my place “Empire,” but it was taken.
Really? So it’s not even about gaming glory or anything?
R: It wasn’t. Obviously that’s the final goal, but Empire was taken, so we just looked for another word. There’s not much of a story behind that. The goal is to help the Philippine e-sports community grow.
Why did you choose Metrowalk?
R: Well, I live nearby. I got wind of a space being open for rent, so I decided to take the opportunity.
What do you have to offer your customers?
R: What we have to offer them is a place where they can bring their friends and play games and drink, in an environment that’s different from your standard living room. That’s for the casual gamers. For the more hardcore gamers, we have our 5-on-5 computer LAN setup, you can play games like League of Legends and DoTA 2 lag-free (writer’s note: This is true. Got to try out their setup, nothing lagged or even hinted at slowing down). You get to play it like the pros. Obviously, we have the TVs and consoles for tournaments and such. For the casual gamers, we’ve got the Xbox One and a PlayStation 4 as well, if you wanna try it before you buy it. We also have the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and a single Wii U and 12 gaming computers.
Lag-free gaming, folks. IT IS POSSIBLE. And it has now been made more accessible.
You have your own games library, but are people allowed to bring their own stuff?
R: People are allowed to bring their own games, but if it breaks or disappears, it’s not our responsibility.
How did you choose your games library?
R: Based it on what competitive gamers play, and I also threw in the fun party games for more casual players. That’s the one thing we wanted to ensure in the process: We are about gamers. Be it casual, be it hardcore, be it new, be it old. We want people to know that we’re the complete gaming experience. So we can do the casual, we can do the hardcore, we can do everything in between.
Can people just walk in and eat without playing anything?
R: Yes, they can. And obviously, we can also show major sporting events. We actually have three Easter egg cable boxes that people don’t know about because they get lost in the shuffle behind all the gaming. They have to wait until the end credits though, that’s where the Easter egg cable boxes are.
Will you be hosting any events anytime soon?
R: Our Grand Opening. We’re going to have 5 show matches, including Street Fighter, Blazblue, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Injustice, and those are just a few. We’re also gonna throw in a few computer games here and there, MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and we may have a surprise for the attendees, too.
You said that you really wanted this to grow. Where do you see Imperium by next year?
R: Hopefully with a roster of pro gamers, and another location. We don’t know where yet, we’re still talking about it.
Can people actually book the place for events, and have it closed down just for them?
R: Yes, we could. Just message us on our Facebook page, and we’ll get back to you.
Possibly the brightest sign in Metrowalk, it’s pretty hard to miss.
Imperium is a place for gamers, by a gamer, it exists for the community. Whether you’re a casual player or you’re gunning for a spot in EVO, you’re welcome here.
They charge a Php 100 door fee (which is consumable), and they serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and light snacks are available. The wait staff is very friendly and ready to serve, and the management is open to feedback.
You can find Imperium on the 2nd floor of the Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City. Closest landmarks are the Meralco Complex and Ortigas Building, and it’s right across Ortigas Center. They’re open from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM every day of the week, excluding major holidays.
The Grand Opening is on December 12, 2013 5PM onwards.