See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Electronic jungle 

Best Video Arcade

Like a pixelized jungle, Gameworks oozes texture. Vinelike extension cords dance in an endless loop behind machines and in the arcade’s electronic canopy; and a nest of black tube televisions is suspended in midair, tuned to whatever station the king of the steel jungle commands. Meanwhile, at ground level, stylized carpet and distinctive, modern tile replace fallen, decaying leaves. But be forewarned: virgins to the techno-enhanced atmosphere may snap into a wicked state of split-second panic, because amid the thick array of arcade kiosks and bustling bodies lies an oasis of food, drink and intoxication (minus all restrictions, so carrying a cocktail doesn’t restrict your all-access play pass).

Alas, most of the New Year’s atmosphere is reserved for 10-spot clockers. Rather, Gameworks is a gathering place for the newbies and veterans of the gaming arena, offering Dig Dug and Pac Man for gurus with facial hair and next-gen romps such as Silent Scope and Tekken Tag for players with only a hint of stubble.

To complement the stand-up arcades is a host of entertainment you’ll probably never see equipped for home use: virtual fighting, where your body is the joystick and sweat tends to pour after each battle; a batting-cage competition that utilizes real physics, providing sportsmen with a digital challenge and an actual club to grip; and a multistory elevation game, propelling four players up and down at a playful velocity, like a downsized Tower of Terror, with top scores determined by strategy and good fortune.

So it’s really no surprise Gameworks of Great Lakes Crossing packs in crowds by the dumpcart full. Whether a bountiful day of stress relief is on your bill, or a night of lustful, bar-trotting pick-up lines floats your digital boat, this interactive destination passed our test. The definitive grade: Being bored is not an option.

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October 21, 2020

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