18ft mechanoids and soldiers flying around on jetpacks in Altrincham

Messenger Newspapers: Michael Hardman Michael Hardman

DO not be alarmed if you hear about 18ft mechanoids stomping around, rockets exploding and soldiers flying around on jetpacks in Altrincham.

People will hopefully just be talking about Fraggers, one of the few gamer cafés to open in the north west.

Michael Hardman said it has been the realisation of his life’s dream to open the entertainment venue after working in the IT industry since he was 15.

The 28-year-old is most looking forward to seeing gamers play Titanfall, a multiplayer shooter where you control giant mechanoids.

“I’m very excited about that,” said Michael.

“I think it’s the first true example of next generation gaming. It’s a very fun game.

“It’s very fluid and fast and feels new, as a lot of games feel like they’re doing the same thing again and again.”

Fraggers has 25 PCs and all the latest consoles, like Xbox One and PlayStation 4, meaning about 40 people can play games at any one time.

Michael, who was one of the youngest in Europe to be trained as a Microsoft systems engineer when he was 17, added: “The past couple of years have been interesting for the games industry.

“It has grown to become the biggest entertainment industry in the world. I think we’ve partially got the economic downturn to blame for that.

“People have been retreating back indoors instead of going out socialising as much, and as a result the entertainment has been drawn in-house.

“It’s broken down all the stigmas that existed, even just 10 years ago, about people who spend their time playing video games.

“All of a sudden we’ve got social gamers playing on their iPad, we’ve got people playing on their mobile phone to pass time on the bus.

“Games are being played everywhere. I think we’ve broken down all of those barriers, and what I would like to do here is make gaming sociable again.

“So instead of just being at home playing your games, come and get together and meet like-minded people.”

Michael also reckons the gaming scene is a lot less male-orientated than it used to be.

“We’ve seen a big shift over the last three to five years,” Michael said.

“I have a lot of female friends who are avid gamers and they put in as many hours too.

“There’s a World of Warcraft guild that is entirely women who want to do a raid here, so I’ll be doing a women’s only night.

“That will be 25 women all doing the same game.”

Michael has not forgotten about his gaming roots, as there are a range of old consoles to play and there is a ‘retro revival’ service to fix old units.

He said: “By far and away the most popular so far has been the Sega Mega Drive.

“Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat 3 and FIFA 1 have been played more than any of the other consoles.”

Fraggers is now one of the only gaming venues in the north west, after Manchester’s Kyoto Lounge closed and Gamerbase in HMV got sold off when the entertainment chain ran into financial trouble.

The café also has plenty of space for people to play card and table-top games and aims to reach out to the community to provide IT tuition for young people and anyone unfamiliar with computers.

Fraggers can be found in The Downs, Altrincham.

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