There are all different types of words people use to describe those who are incredibly passionate about games. The negative meaning behind dork, geek, and nerd has been thrown on its head by modern society. That’s why there was no shortage in choosing the best geeky things to do in Saskatoon.
Over the past ten years there’s been a transformation that’s turned some of the bullied into billionaires. People who have a knack for coding or comics have reached a new level of cool. And Saskatoon knows it.
People have called me a nerd for years. But I’ve never identified with the fangirls of Star Wars and LOTR, or played a MMORPG. I was in a bit of denial at first, but now I’ve learned to embrace the term. Geeky things I love to do are actually really fun. It’s like you get to be a kid again and the only thing people can say is, “What a geek!” Burn.
I have a message for the fellow geeks that stumbled here: there is no shame in embracing your passions. From arcades to comic book stores, read on to journey into the best of Saskatoon’s geekdom.
*This list has been edited to reflect business changes on March 25, 2018.
Don’t miss Riversdale, a.k.a. home of the best geekiest block in Saskatoon: Mana Bar, King Me Boardgamery, Deadlock VR, and Bartari.
Mana Bar 523 20 St W
Our first Trivia Thursday! It’s too bad no one showed up for it though… Thank you to everyone who came out! #manabaryxe #saskatoon #saskatchewan #yxe #riversdale #riversdaleyxe #esportsbar #esports #arcade #retro #trivia #trivianight #triviathursday #pewpew #thenerdbaryoudeserve #forgamersbygamers #nerdtopia
Owner Chris calls it “a nerdtopia for those into every geeky subculture”. And he’s working very hard to satisfy every niche of nerd across the city. Whether you’re into Magic or live streamed e-games, this is a bar with a pixelated heartbeat. Check their calendar for specialty nights like trivia to meet and compete with other bespectacled people of the prairies.
Pro Tip: Make sure you visit the gender-neutral Star Wars and Zelda-themed washrooms that play music from their respective titles while you pee.
Update: Chris makes specialty waffles on Wednesdays (Jalapeno Popper, Mac N Cheese, and Gingerbread to name a few). He also has a selection of bourbon and scotch for tasting (November 18, 2017).
Update: According to its regulars, Mana Bar permanently closed in March of 2019. An official confirmation of closure has yet to be released from its owner Chris on Mana Bar’s social, storefront, or website (April 7, 2019).
King Me Boardgamery and Cafe 527 20th Street West
Next door from Mana Bar, you’ll find King Me where your fiver goes far with All You Can Play board games. They’re open seven days a week, so you can plan your regular board game night here.
The thing I like about King Me is that you can try out the latest board games at a fraction of the cost of buying to avoid overspending on games that you may not want to play again. Check out the board game library to see if they have the one you want.
Update: According to their Facebook Page, King Me has started offering solo player promotions on Tuesdays (November 19, 2017).
Deadlock Virtual Reality (added March 25, 2018)
While I haven’t personally experienced this gaming arcade, Chris from Mana Bar tells me that it’s worth a visit. Deadlock’s new second location offers a combo of escape rooms and virtual reality gaming options. There are 6 stand-up VR stations with dozens of multiplayer games to challenge your nerdy friends.
Bartari 511 20th Street West
Walk a few doors down from Mana Bar to grab a table for you and a few friends to play unlimited games all night for $5. You can choose from a vast collection of retro and new console games, or arcade style pinball. Start a battle with your friends and the servers will fuel your evening with treats like milk and cookies between rounds.
Ruckers 2 locations: 2910 8th St E and 2301 22 St W
So maybe Ruckers isn’t the geekiest place Saskatoon, but you’ll have fun reliving your nostalgic arcade days. Spend around $30 to get over 100 tokens to play. Take your friends, or plan your next date here. The east location is part of a fun centre that includes: Putt ‘n Bounce mini golf, The Rock climbing wall, Grand Slam batting cages, and one of the only Fuddruckers locations in Canada.
Pro Tip: pack your hand sanitizer.
Pokey’s Pinball 211-B 33rd St W
What originated as a pinball servicing company is now a licensed cafe in the burgeoning 33rd Street neighbourhood. Pokey’s is made for Saskatoon’s most dedicated pinball fans. They have a rotating wall of games and regular pinball leagues. Order some nachos and a pitcher, then get some tokens and play the afternoon away.
Note: You won’t be able to find much of Pokey’s online, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit!
Aspect Virtual Reality Gaming Studio 2218 Millar Ave *Edit permanently closed
I first heard about ASPECT VR after reading an article in the StarPhoenix, so naturally we had to check it out for our next date night. The owners say this is the only Virtual Reality Studio of this quality anywhere in Saskatchewan. They also do large parties (a.k.a. the quietest birthday you’ll ever have).
When my date (my husband, Chris) and I walked into the space we could tell it was a very expensive room. We opted for the immersive experience of the Zombie story, but there are other options for folks who want ease their way into VR. See what it feels like to be completely inside of a video game.
Pro Tip: We played for an hour, but we recommend limiting yourself to a half hour your first time.
Your nearest Saskatoon Public Library location.
I’ve always found the library to be a comforting space. It’s somewhere I can explore the world without leaving my city. The library is the perfect spot for geeky dates because they have so much going on to satisfy all different types of people. Membership is free and gives you access to a world of knowledge. Check out a location near you, or visit the new Round Prairie branch location in Stonebridge.
Note: Do Sask’s book club is open to join and free if you borrow instead of buy. Check out the book of the month from the library, then come out to a meeting to discuss. Sign up to the newsletter to get updates on where and when we meet. Everyone’s welcome!
I remember going to the U of S a lot as a kid. The observatory was always one of the highlights. It’s open every Saturday year round, but typically you can get the best view in the summer months. For a romantic take on the best geeky thing to do in Saskatoon, pack a midnight snack and take a peek at the universe through a 6 inch diameter lens to see planets, clusters, galaxies, and even comets. There’s a small Astronomy museum with a tour of our solar system!
Pro Tip: Check out their hours to see how long they’re open for this Saturday.
I experienced my first escape room a few years ago in Calgary at a place called The Locked Room. Essentially we gathered a group of five to play a live action puzzle in which we had to take steps to find and unlock ourselves from the room to successfully save humanity from a zombie apocalypse. (FYI We made it to the last piece when the buzzer rang… Fail.)
Saskatoon has a handful of escape rooms to choose from. I’ve only tried Keller’s Magic Emporium at Escape City, so tell me which one is the best! Here’s where you can find them:
- Deadlock 539 20th St W
- Mastermind 123 Avenue B South
- Breakout 805 48 St E
- Escape City 248 3rd Ave S
- Escape Manor 245 2nd Ave S (added April 7, 2019)
Canadian Light Source 44 Innovation Blvd
Canada’s hub for STEM research is right here in Saskatoon at the internationally renowned multidisciplinary synchrotron. Take a free tour of the spot that has grabbed the science world’s attention. The Canadian Light Source gives free tours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2 p.m. You can drop in at that time, or request another time (for groups of 5 or more).
Amazing Stories 2508 8th St E
If you’re going to check out a comic book store, why not head to one of the world’s best? Amazing Stories has more than comics – check them out for everything geek culture from collectibles to clothes. They’ve got a lot of community events, so check here to see what’s going on this week.
Honorable mention: Create Cafe 510 Cir Dr E
Learn how to use a 3D printer and grab a coffee with your friends at the same time. Create Cafe has three Makerbot printers that you can rent by the hour for a very low cost. Two stations are set up for you to design and prep your project. You can send your design to be printed, or work on it at the cafe. According to their website, workshops are coming soon!
Whether you play esports, read manga, create epic Magic character-lines, enjoy a simple social board game, or have all of the game shops on speed dial to get the NES Classic Edition – you name it, there’s a spot in Saskatoon that satisfies your specific geeky needs.