Back in the days before climate change had cranked up the average seasonal temperature to cancel winter altogether, kids used to rejoice when the community news radio announcer confirmed that school buses were not running and that the rare educational respite – the Snow Day – was in full effect. Of course, as home video game systems had already started to compete for our recreational attention, outdoor activities seemed more like a punishment than a reward (how today’s Pokemon GO players must laugh!)
Bonus Stage, then, is a snow day for the adult gamer who misses those long hours, spent geeking out over Super Mario Brothers or Final Fantasy, yet still enjoys hanging out every once in a while for an adjudicated debate on the pluses and minuses of Mario.
Josh Pendlebury, guitarist of local revelling geek/game quartet The Runaway Four says Bonus Stage is about “nerds in the Vancouver entertainment community coming together to provide a unique variety show in celebration of video games and nerd culture, including comedy debate and improv, burlesque, live music and contests. Collaborations between artists happen throughout the show so it’s a huge effort on everyone’s part to strengthen and draw the community together and give something for every fan of video games to get off the couch for.”
Although Vancouver was previously recognized as a hub for video game production in North America, in the wake of the city’s ongoing crisis in affordable housing the future of its geek culture may depend less on game development than it does on the gamers themselves to preserve the true spirit of nerd life through community events and concerts.
“We’ve seen an influx of more independently and collaboratively produced shows in the last year alone, “ says Pendlebury. In addition to major recurring events like Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo, last December the established American music and gaming festival MAGFest brought their Game Over concert series fto Vancouver for the first time, featuring cover bands like missingNo and The Runaway Four as well as chiptune artists bryface and Freaky DNA. He says local geek-friendly venues like the new Storm Crow Alehouse and EXP Restaurant + Bar are helping Vancouver to become a “big spot” on the map of video game music.
While Bonus Stage is the “melting pot” for local geek culture events, Pendlebury notes that there are several nerdy ongoing events that gamers can support. “Geeks vs. Nerds Vancouver regularly host debates at the Seven Dining Lounge from Fall to Spring, The Fictionals can be seen all over the city from Commercial Drive to Granville Island, [and] our burlesque artists Dezi Desire and Roe Butts routinely perform with geeky troupes like the award-winning Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society and Bone Rattle Talent.”
For those of us that could use a snow day this Thursday, Bonus Stage 2 at Fox Cabaret offers a nerdy oasis for Vancouver geeks of all stripes to take refuge from their regularly scheduled summer activities and you can visit the event page on Facebook here.