Triangle man opens esports bar in Durham for devoted gamers

Durham, North Carolina — For Glen Swan, the all-night gaming session paid off.

Swan is the owner of Bad Machines, one of North Carolina’s first esports bars, which recently opened on the second floor of downtown Durham.

It’s the perfect story for Swann, who grew up in Knightdale and got kicked out of school in 11th grade for spending too much time playing games.

“I was pretty bad in high school,” Swan said. “I skipped a lot. I didn’t do my job much. I slept a lot. bottom.”

Swan, now 40 and a child, was more into MUDs and multi-user dungeons than academics. MUDs are text-based and lack some of the big franchises and generic names found in top-selling console games. He prefers multiplayer his PC-driven titles to his console games, super he has a certain dedication to a hobby that most of his ’90s kids lacked, who only played the NES. showed.

“My parents thought it was mostly a waste of time,” he said. “A lot of my teachers didn’t believe this was going to do anything. But it did. I made a career out of it.”

Swan never graduated from high school, but started his way on the gaming circuit, developing an instinct for the engineering and software development aspects of the industry. Years later, with a career in games, technology and advertising, Swann had the flexibility to open Bad Machines. He wants to capture the expanding space that gaming takes up in public spaces.

“It takes a lot of work to make a game. Some of the games I’ve worked on take three to five years just to make and hundreds of millions of dollars just to make,” Swan said. increase. “They are essentially cinematic.”

Clearly, gaming will be taken more seriously in 2023, and Swan provides a place for avid gamers to come together and play. Swan hopes that Bad Machines will eventually be able to host an exhibition between top players inside and outside the Triangle. The bar will host tournaments bringing players together to play Super Smash Bros., Rocket League and Fortnite, produced by Cary-based Epic Games. There are also some arcade machines and board games if you want to unplug and have some fun.

Triangle has been luring a group of dedicated gamers to the region in recent months. In 2022, his Apex Legends Championship at PNC Arena drew players to the Triangle for his four-day competition, where the top finishers shared his $2 million-plus prize pool. In December, tickets to the Call of Duty tournament at the Raleigh Convention Center sold out.

The esports industry is skyrocketing in value, popularity and revenue as economists value the industry in billions. Swan wants a venue that will eventually host high-stakes shows and bring in professional gamers for fans to see up close. Ultimately, he hopes to incorporate stages, lights, fog machines, and cameras to increase production value. Bad Machines also serves local craft beer and game-inspired drinks.

“There really wasn’t a concept like a sports bar in esports, so it seemed like something to do,” Swann said. “A lot of the concepts came from my dreams. , to create an esports venue to host exhibition matches, dream fights, or ‘bar fights’ between high-profile professionals,” Swann said.

“If Michael Jordan and Larry Bird played one-on-one, would people want to see it? Even if it meant nothing? The answer is yes,” Swann said. .

Bad Machines is open Wednesday through Sunday at 108 East Main Street.

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