Okay. So I really try not to get up on a soap box (often) but this past week has really made me feel that it was necessary to put the word out. Gamers of the world, we all really need to start supporting our local gaming stores!! In this day and age of internet accessibility, it is incredibly too easy to log on, make a couple clicks, and await the delivery of your next gaming book or boardgame. Hell, I’m totally guilty of it, and Amazon.com is an amazing source for all your retail needs, but we can easily forget that there are those brick and mortar gaming stores out there that truly need our support.
A few weeks ago, Wizards of the Coast announced that it would be doing a limited edition run of AD&D reprints. Attached to this announcement were two notable sidebars. The first was that a portion of the proceeds would go to the Gygax Memorial Fund, whose goal is to erect a statue of the Father of Roleplaying Games in his hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The other was that these reprints would be available in limited quantities ONLY through North American hobby channels – i.e., gaming retailers. This fact really made me perk up and take notice. Wizards of the Coast could have very easily offered a limited pre-order through their own web store in addition to retailers, but made the decision to nix the online purchase ability. Bravo, Wizard, bravo. Some of us (me) may still have questions as to why 4E was so bad (I’m not the only one out there, so turn that stink eye somewhere else), but this decision is truly deserving of praise.
I decided that I needed to get my hands on these new reprints, so I picked up the phone and dialed up the local hobby shop down the street… number disconnected. “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “that can’t be right. I was just there not long ago buying some 4E books.” (I said I don’t like it, not that won’t play it.) As it turns out, the now defunct Adventurer’s Guild in Riverside, California had shut its doors after probably two plus decades of service to the local gaming community. A victim of the economic climate, I’m sure, it really came as a shock to me that a store that had always been there when I needed it was no more. Fortunately (or unfortunately, given the circumstances), there is still on gaming store in the area, GMI Games.
I dropped into GMI on my way home from work to make my pre-order and had the opportunity to spend some time getting to know the owner, Katherine. We talked 4E, DnD Next, and the tenuous circumstances in keeping a specialty store open. Half of the store was dedicated to RPG’s and Boardgames, while the other half was set aside with numerous tables and terrain for Wargaming of all types. Katherine was kind enough to let me drop off some promo material for the podcast and as I looked around the store, I knew that the truly responsible thing for me to do was to return the favor and make a purchase. I thanked her for the chat and the willingness to promote us here at Monkey in the Cage, but I left carrying a copy of Deadlands: The Battle For Slaughter Gulch and knowing that I was going to be coming back when I could to help keep those door open.
Gaming specialty stores are a dying breed and we as gamers of all types should do our part to help keep them in business. If you’ve got one close to you, by all means, make a visit and make a purchase, every little bit helps. Sure it might cost a little more than an online retailer, but think of it as an investment. Not only are these specialty shops a great resource for your gaming needs, they also serve as great places to game, make new friends, and just plain enjoy being a geek. Also, if you are near GMI Games in Riverside, tell them Monkey in the Cage sent you, because every little bit helps us here too!