A NEW gaming culture has arrived in Taunton.

Playing boardgames has been combined with what is described as ‘a cafe culture’, resulting in a new cafe linking the two elements together.

It all started 10 years ago in Canada - and now it is has reached Taunton town centre, and has been brought to town by Ryan Low.

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Ryan, from Calgary, Canada, became aware of these type of cafes while studying for a Masters Degree in Agriculture at the University of Alberta.

He loves playing board games and thought it would great to open a cafe for like-minded folk, but it was a passing fancy, an idea in the wind.

But it was one he never forgot.

Now, Ryan has opened the Hexagon Board Game Cafe at 18, Lower Middle Street, Taunton.

It is the first of its kind in town and is already proving a hit with gamers both young and old.

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Finding out about the premises does raise a conundrum/riddle which would go like this: “When is a cafe not a cafe? Answer when it is a board cafe.”

The reason being you can be in the cafe but you do not need to buy food, you can buy food as it is available as are drinks but if you want you can just go in and play games with your friends.

This community side to a cafe is a way of people rebuffing and taking a step back from Social Media where it is meant to be social in the terms of meeting people but you meet them in cyber space and not face to face.

You also have a conversation with them or even play games against them when the two of you are separated by thousands of miles.

It is social but not social in the term many of us would think of being truly social.

What is happening now is ‘retro is king’ as people want the interaction with little or no distractions from the modern world.

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The rules of the Hexagon Board Game Cafe are simple.

You can come into the cafe and if you want to play a game you can select one from the shelves (there are numerous to select - at least 100) or you can bring your own game.

What you have to do is pay a cover charge to play your game at the cafe.

It will cost adults £1.50 per hour, £1 per hour for students, under 18s and retired people but under 13s can come is free of charge. But any under 16s have to be accompanied by an adult as the cafe is a licensed premises which can serve alcohol.

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You cannot bring any of your own food or drink into the cafe but once you meet all these rules and regulations you can stay as long as you like and game away to your hearts content.

This is Ryan’s first business and he decided to open it in the UK after moving to Taunton with his wife, Emily.

Ryan applied to come into Great Britain and Northern Ireland via an ancestry visa as his grandparents were both British.

The plan had originally been for Emily to move to Canada to be with Ryan but this fell through in 2013.

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By 2015 it was decided he would apply to move to the UK.

His wife Emily, who is originally from Birmingham, but moved to West Huntspill, near Bridgwater met her husband to be when he was out on a pub crawl in New York in 2011.

Ryan explained he was with his mate who said on the sour of the moment, why didn’t they go on a pub crawl and during this adventure he met Emily in Harlem and the rest as they say is history.

Speaking about his new venture in Taunton, Ryan said: “We are living in a golden age for boardgames.

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“At the moment there is myself and Jamie (other member of staff) are working here but I hope if it all takes off then my goal would be to employ more staff.

“We will have to see how popular it all gets.

“I would say right now the cafe culture is high so why not combine it with boardgames.

“The first boardgame cafe opened in Toronto in 2008 and in this country they have opened in Edinburgh, Oxford, London, Bristol, Exeter and now Taunton.

“What I hope we will create is a culture of welcome-ness, a social atmosphere.

“It will give people who want an opportunity to play games with their friends.

“We would welcome different clubs like a chess club to come here and use it as their main venue.

“There is plenty of space for everyone we have spaces for 32 people and this includes tables downstairs and six tables upstairs.

“When we opened we had a number of students coming in and we had a Bridge Club saying they would like to use the cafe as we can serve wine.

“What is good for us is we are open until late which gives people plenty of time to play the game.”

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The food menu includes:

- Paninis all served with either mixed leaves or hand cooked crisps.

- Farmhouse Mature Cheddar melt

- Home cooked ham and Farmhouse Cheddar melt.

- Tuna, Mayo and Farmhouse Cheddar melt

- BBQ Chicken melt

- Veggie Melt Sandwiches

- Cheese and chutney

- Cheese salad

- Ham and wholegrain mustard

- Deli of the day Snacks

- Cheese board with crackers and chutney

- Veggie and humus platter served with pita bread - Pie of the day Please ask.

Served with ice cream

- Pastries

- Cheesecake

- Burt’s hand cooked crisps- Nuts (50g portion)

- Cashews (50g portion) n Haribo (50g portion) There is a drinks menu which includes:

- Beer and cider

- Cocktails such as: The Gladiator- Amaretto and orange juice.

- G+ Fizz: Gin elderflower cordial, fresh mint, cucumber slices all topped with Prosecco n Cosmopolitan - Vodka, triple sec topped with Cranberry juice.

- Caesar: A Canadian take on the Bloody Mary: Vodka, cracked black pepper, Worcester Sauce and Clamato Juice.

There is also an array of other spirits such as vodka, gin, rum, Bacardi, whisky, Tia Maria, Archers, Malibu, Brandy and Bailey’s.

Since it opened there has been a lot of positive comments posted in its Facebook page.

Kirsty Edwards posted: “I’ve spent a lot of time in board game cafes and it’s wonderful to have one so close to home!

“The staff are super friendly, there’s plenty of space, the board game selection is good and the milkshakes are amazing!

Definitely going to be a regular!”

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While Ricardo Pereira posted: “Awesome cafe, recommended, the staff are awesome and I couldn’t think in a better place to hang out.

“Cool games plus the milkshakes are amazing.

“Overall I would say this is the best place to go in town.”

And Jennifer Louise Gibbins posted: “Cant remember the last time I played a board game, but after being recommended a game and helped to start us off I loved it! Lovely atmosphere. Can’t wait to go back!”

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The Hexagon Board Game Cafe is open Tuesday - Sunday (closed Monday) from 11am - 10pm.