“The Professor of Video Games” takes us through his top places to play and connect in Toronto — an elite gaming hub, retro games, must-try eateries, old music haunts and more.
“We have a pretty serious community in terms of online gaming in Toronto, as well as the communities in the maker space,” Kristopher says. “We have the Game Makers Union and Dames Making Games, as well as the Hand Eye Society. And these are just some of the local groups that host pop-ups all around the city — at universities and computer labs, even at our own lab at Toronto Metropolitan University.”
“The greatest way to connect with another human is to play with them in some place or some space”
“I love Toronto because of the community. I love the opportunity. It's just a place where you're okay to be yourself, especially when it comes to being a gamer, video game player and a lover of interactive experiences.”
So, here are Kristopher’s top places in Toronto to play, connect and just be yourself.
Start the day at Sovereign Cafe.
The Sovereign Café on Davenport Road, is “a morning favourite and chocolate croissant heaven,” great for perfect pastries and oat-milk lattes.
Play games (and eat burgers) at Rec Room.
Being a burger aficionado, Kristopher recommends The Rec Room on Bremner Boulevard for satisfying pub-grub and arcade fun. This spacious spot also features pool tables and a huge outdoor patio.
Pick up rare and vintage games at A & C Games
Kristopher is a big fan of A & C Games on Spadina Avenue, often taking his daughters along with him when he visits. “I’m a retro nerd, so I go there for a lot of rare and vintage items,” he says. The store is filled with a huge selection of games, systems and accessories, plus loads of cheeky memorabilia. “It's a legendary place to go for old systems, new systems, and in some cases, upcoming systems, because the staff is so knowledgeable.”
“A & C games to me represents a paradise for anybody who wants a fast education into video games.”
Stop at Dim Sum King in Chinatown.
Wander out west for ice cream and other treats.
For a sweet treat – and a laugh – Kristopher heads to the hilarious Poop Café on Bloor Street West, where visitors sit on toilets to enjoy their ice cream, bubble tea and Asian-inspired treats.
“We also go to Nadège Patisserie on Queen Street West for ice cream,” he says. “They have such beautifully crafted desserts. When I see my girls’ energy getting a bit low, I take them over there – it just fixes everything.” The family also likes to head into nearby Trinity Bellwoods Park, which always has something going on to wander through, including a Tuesday farmers’ market.
Play retro games and eat pizza at Greater Good.
“The Greater Good and its sister space North of Brooklyn Pizzeria on Geary Avenue combine to to form small arcade bar/pizza joint where I often have meetings with peers in the industry,” Kristopher says. “It’s very old-school. The video games are ’80s classics, arcade machines like pinball and Skee-Ball.”
Have dinner at The Golden Peacock in The Junction
The Golden Peacock in The Junction is also a favourite haunt, created by the culinary team behind Donna’s diner. “The reason why I love the Golden peacock is because the owners have such a great Torontonian story of success. They put pretty much everything into the life of a restauranteur, and being a former restaurateur myself — my wife and I — I totally understand it.”
“And the food! You’ve just got to taste the food. You’ll eat it and be like, Oh, there's love in there.” Every time he goes, he has to order the burger.
Kick back for live music at Supermaket in Kensington Market.
Supermarket in Kensington Market is where his wife went on their first date. The venue is one of the neighbourhood’s cultural anchors, hosting live music, comedy nights and weekend dance parties. “We used to go there for the evening and stay into the nighttime for the open mics.”
“I’m a classically trained pianist. I used to make hip hop music and I used to perform and sing regularly. And Supermarket was one of those places where I would sign up. And I performed there right before I met my wife. And then got busy working restaurants and having a family, and becoming the professor of video games.”
“If you're an aspiring gamer, a legendary gamer, or a new gamer, Toronto is the place for you. There are plenty of places for you to dine. For you to relax. Cool out. Hang out with friends. But most importantly, meet and connect with community.”