Playing in game stores - why?


Pathfinder Society

** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—London aka waynemarkstubbs

In light of the new Retailer Incentive PFS program, I'd really like to understand where this obsession with playing in game stores comes from.

I understand why it's great for the store - they get a captive audience for the period who will be exposed to their stock, may be incentivized to purchase, and may even pay for the privilege.

I understand why it's great for the game publishers - "hey, Mr Store Owner, carry our stock/support our organized play programme, look at the footfall it gets you"

But for the life of me I can't understand what's in it for the players. Who wants to spend hours playing games in a shop? I refuse to believe that there are locations out there that are sophisticated enough to have a games stored but not a cafe/pub/hotel etc. within walking distance.

Maybe there are fantastic luxurious game shops out there with comfortable chairs, sturdy tables, adequate toilet facilities, a wide selection of hot food and snacks and drinks, table service, wifi, proper disabled access etc. but I have never seen one. Whereas my local cafes and pubs offer exactly that. And as long as you're not being disruptive and spend some money commensurate to the time and space you take up, they don't really care what you get up to. Which is pretty much the same criteria that the games shops would apply.

So - sell me. You can choose to play in a cafe, and have all the things I describe above. Or you can cross the street and play in a games store that, on average, won't. So why on earth would you choose the latter?

** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—London aka waynemarkstubbs

Oh, and a shout out for places like THIS that are trying to be more cafe than game store.

**

Where I live you can't sit in a cafe 4 hours with only a consuption. And not al cafes, pubs, etc have tables that serves well for a game with 7 players. Also the reputation RPGs have could be better, to say the least, so not every place wants to host a game.

Also, not all players want to spend anything so a store without a wide selection is not a problem. And sometimes it's even better, when the store don't minds if you eat some food buyed outside, usually in a shop with cheaper prices than those you can have in a cafe or pub.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Fewer lookie loos asking what in the world we're doing every fifteen seconds. Dice for sale for that one player that inevitably forgets theirs (at least until they have a dozen or so sets bought last minute). Depending on the management, alowances to read books you didn't bring with you (always expect to pay for what you break/rip, spill soda on, etc...). Also in the management arena, reduced likelihood of being chased off for taking up space that can be used for paying customers (generally during prime hours, especially Fridays and Weekends). My shop also has terrain for use on my map if I want. And forget not the classic: People what game. Back in olden times before everything was online, we used to post a notice asking for players on the FLG's handy bulletin board. Some of us over the age of 40 still prefer that method.

And if you have a cafe that does this all for you, too (I hear the larger cities are starting to spawn things like board game cafes), then great! Me, I don't have that. I've played in Denny's(es? How do you pluralize a proper name that's also a possessive???) Homes, game stores, and once even a rented office space. Basically, there are pros and cons to each


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Some things that a player, playing in a gaming store may benefit from;

*environment friendly to gamers

*Potential environment immersion (decor)

*organized neutral meeting place

*dedicated place to play

*fewer outside disturbances

*sanctioned organized play (for national rank and xp)

*tournament play (rare I know)

*Introduction to others in the hobby

*resources on location

I am sure I can keep going with this but I think I have made my point

Scarab Sages *** Venture-Agent, Finland—Oulu aka Shinae

Sitting in cafe doesn't work here either, maybe few places can be found that support this sort of cafe/gaming. We play at store mainly, but luckily our game store has basement for gaming, so it's not really in the store, but has access to store.

I also like that you can buy dice, figurines, paints etc while you go enjoy your weekly PFS session. Our store also has limited selection of paizo books etc, and they are willing to order hard copies of books they don't have in shelf. Since we live in europe we generally avoid ordering straight from paizo, because it's expensive to post stuff from us to eu.

I guess store gaming experience vary from town to town. I probably wouldn't enjoy playing in crowded store that has multiple gaming tables and lots of noise.

*

So maybe you fancy city folk have lots of cafes and hotels in walking distance, but out in the country or the burbs it is usually just as easy to get to a FLGS as it is a business not designed with gamer in mind.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Eastern Eurasia-Africa

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*Attracting new players


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Auke Teeninga wrote:
*Attracting new players

That is a big one Met my S/O that way.

Scarab Sages *** Venture-Agent, Finland—Oulu aka Shinae

Auke Teeninga wrote:
*Attracting new players

Totally forgot mention that I also started playing pathfinder, because I saw players at store playing.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Eastern Eurasia-Africa

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Wayne, you are clearly talking from a British perspective, where most game stores are relatively small and pubs are large, but cosy (so the noise level is relatively low).

In the US game stores are quite large and many have dedicated game space(s), while bars seem mostly focused on drinking and/or watching sports while listening to loud music. (for me, the distracting television screens would be enough to avoid gaming there).

Liberty's Edge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've found that businesses not built for gaming can be great to game in, but while they might handle one table very well, I rarely only organize a single table. If I want to ensure I have 3 to 5 tables that are large enough for a map and everyone's stuff and free, then I need the game store.

Besides, we have one of these FFGEC


I love gaming at Around the Table. They have a large open gaming area. They cater to all kinds of games, not just RPGs. They have open play games (store copies of 50+ games that are available at any time). They have drinks, food, and wonderful staff. They don't mind if you bring in some outside food (with limits). They try to accommodate your group as much as possible.

We don't always get to game there because of certain events (I'm looking at you Magic:the Gathering and Star Wars) taking up a large portion of the gaming space, but it's not often that we don't fit. Their hours also work great for my group. One of our players has a wheelchair and it's really easy for him to join us. We have also found some great people to add to the group because we game there.

Dark Archive *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ask Thursty why we go to a game store.

And as Auke pointed out, it is a valuable tool to recruit new players.

** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—London aka waynemarkstubbs

I have to say that Fantasy Flight Games place looks good - they've basically made a gaming pub.

I assume that Lisa is working on the franchise agreement for the Pathfinder Lodge And Grill chain right now.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

To be fair, even in Minnesota only a couple gamestores have restaurants on site!

However, it's great to support our friendly local game stores and help them stay friendly to us. I'm really glad that Tonya provided us with another incentive to help them out.

Hmm

Silver Crusade *** Venture-Captain, United Kingdom—Scotland

We get 4-5 tables at a fortnightly gaming event - it really does pull the group together and everyone gets to feel connected as a group.

In a games store or a public place its also easier for new recruits to feel its a more accessible game.

It also means that the group can catch up in a post game trip to the pub for a catch up and tell the tall tales of the days gaming.

All in all it improves community in a way that random games at someones house does not.

Also a gaming specific place (store if it has space or gaming cafe) is going to be a lot more receptive than a random cafe we would invade even if its only a single tables worth.

Shadow Lodge *****

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waynemarkstubbs wrote:
In light of the new Retailer Incentive PFS program, I'd really like to understand where this obsession with playing in game stores comes from.

Probably because that used to be the ONLY place you could game in public and because it is still the best way to meet other tabletop gamers.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Captain, Virginia—Richmond aka Slothsy

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If you are from outside the US, then your game stores are probably a different context. In any case, I think that playing Pathfinder Society in a public location, particularly in a game store, makes a lot of sense. In my city, we have 3 game stores that we play in (our 4th just closed and we're reaching out to other stores as of right now to replace that game day). We don't really organize PFS at locations other than game stores down here in Richmond, VA, as we have a great culture of game stores.

See, I don't see myself as just organizing PFS games. I mean, yeah, that's what I'm doing most of the time. I'm desperately emailing people to sign up to GM, setting schedules, working on a new GM mentor program... it's a lot of focus on the games itself. However, I really see myself as organizing a community. After all, that's why I do PFS and why I've stuck with it for so long - I enjoy meeting new people through my favorite hobby.

If I just organized games at my house or met up at the local (non-gaming) cafe to play, my ability to meet new people would be limited to, well, my friends and my friend's friends. I could build it up after a while, but it would be much more limited. However, at our FLGS, we have flyers up and other advertising, which is seen by a lot more people. My PFS community varies, of course, a new people join and older players stop attending games. Being able to be connected not only with locations that help us but with other gaming communities (we tend to get a lot of people "trying" the game because they see us playing during Friday Night Magic). It makes us part of something larger.

Likewise, there's no strong pressure from our game stores to purchase items equal to the amount of table time we're taking up. A lot of restraunts (esp waitstaff!) would be grumpy if we took up a table for 6 hours and didn't spend a good amount. While there are PFS games that work that way (that's great!), I could afford that every week. For me, the low-stress context of a game store in terms of what's expected of us to use the table space, the ability to attract new players, and being situated in the physical space where gaming communities develop make it attractive to play PFS there.

However, this means that there's been sort of an imbalance in what my group gets (ability to use the space and time) and what the store gets (maybe we buy something? maybe?) I really like this new program because it offers a bit of a carrot. One of my good friends was saying that she would probably buy sodas for her table or a character folio for a new player in order to get the $10 benefit. That's the sort of thing that's both good for our relationship with a store (they sell more things!) and community building (people are invested in each other). Now it becomes my group gets space and time and the store get purchases (encouraged with in-game benefits). So, stores, publishers and the players/communities benefit from these initiatives.

Of course, different areas are different - what works down here in Richmond may not work where you're from. That's a natural aspect of PFS being a global campaign. I do think that this initiative helps smooth over some wrinkles that stores have been facing in terms of support (there's plenty of forum discussions about conventions v stores and differing support) and I'm glad to see retail locations get more love.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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I can't imagine any cafe or shop in the area putting up with a gaming session and the ensuing weird conversations for 4 hours.

As for a hotel what are you going to do rent a conference room?

Our comic shop is a little small, but the pizza place is right next door, and they'll bring your order over if you ask them.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

I can't imagine any cafe or shop in the area putting up with a gaming session and the ensuing weird conversations for 4 hours.

As for a hotel what are you going to do rent a conference room?

Our comic shop is a little small, but the pizza place is right next door, and they'll bring your order over if you ask them.

There is a place out here called AFK Tavern. It was designed from the beginning as a gamer-tavern. I really enjoy going there. It's also a great place to meet some of the game designers who work for Paizo.

** Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—London aka waynemarkstubbs

I've gamed in coffee shops (Starbucks and the like, as well as indies), hotel lobbies, airport arrival lounges, mall food courts, city garden squares, pizza restaurants...

I've never had any hassle. You get the occasional interested onlooker. You can't object to the occasional interested onlooker and then wax lyrical about attracting new people.

They key is to spend a reasonable amount of money. Of course if you are taking up space in a coffee shop, it is reasonable to buy some coffee and a muffin. If you're there for four hours, maybe more than once. If you can afford 20 quid rulebooks and baskets full of minis, you can afford that.

The game stores, of course, are not providing you with space to play out of the goodness of their hearts. They want you to buy stuff too. So it sounds like many people are freeloading off the game stores, and that this program is intended to counterbalance that.

Maybe I'm just getting old - I expect a certain level of comfort while playing. I'm not willing to put up with uncomfortable chairs, wobbly tables, a single grotty toilet, and a food selection that runs to pizza and Haribo just because the space is 'free' and people there won't look at me funny.

While I'm here I'm going to plug the pub I game in. Food all day, child friendly, plenty of space at weekends, no piped music, free wifi, plenty of alcohol and soft drinks, full wheelchair access and centrally located. Been gaming there for years - met new people, never been looked at funny. Any games store would have to be positively palatial to compete.

Dark Archive ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

Andrew Christian wrote:

I've found that businesses not built for gaming can be great to game in, but while they might handle one table very well, I rarely only organize a single table. If I want to ensure I have 3 to 5 tables that are large enough for a map and everyone's stuff and free, then I need the game store.

Besides, we have one of these FFGEC

Actually, we have two! Your Mom's Basement is a second site that we are in, that we run 3-5 games at every week!

However, I know that we are blessed in the Twin Cities with an abundance of FLGSs that want out business, and love us being there.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Bob_Loblaw wrote:


There is a place out here called AFK Tavern. It was designed from the beginning as a gamer-tavern. I really enjoy going there. It's also a great place to meet some of the game designers who work for Paizo.

That is a very sweet set up, but sadly not on every corner.

It's a 45 minute drive for me to get to the comic shop that hosts us. There isn't anything closer.

Silver Crusade *

I live in Italy, and I've only played at the local game store once. Mostly it's just too noisy, not enough ventilation, and there's no real incentive to go there. Bars are much better places to play, in my experience. There's always a nice quiet corner, big tables, food and drink if people want it. There's even a nice bar that's made specifically for people to play board games in, although it can get a bit rowdy sometimes.

So yes, if you're going to play PFS in a public space, I have no idea why you'd want to play in a game store as opposed to a bar or cafe, heck, even at the kiosk in the park. If it's about attracting new players, well, usually when we're playing Pathfinder we're trying to play the game and not recruit anyway.

***** Venture-Agent, Germany—Hamburg aka Calenor

waynemarkstubbs wrote:

They key is to spend a reasonable amount of money. Of course if you are taking up space in a coffee shop, it is reasonable to buy some coffee and a muffin. If you're there for four hours, maybe more than once. If you can afford 20 quid rulebooks and baskets full of minis, you can afford that.

Dear waynemarkstubbs,

nice to hear that within your lodge, everybody seems to be well stocked with rulebooks and minis.

But not every Lodge has a lot of members with some Hundereds of Dollar/Pound/Euro in rulebooks and minis, some lodge members may be schoolkids, students, people with not that well paying jobs, or whatever, who are struggeling to buy the books they like to have.

Maybe you can afford playing in your pub (i missed to find prices, so im quite curious to know what you spend during a game slot in yout pub), but who are you to tell anyone else that they CAN afford playing there?

just my 2 cent

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Daniel Yeatman wrote:

Bars are much better places to play, in my experience. There's always a nice quiet corner, big tables, food and drink if people want it. There's even a nice bar that's made specifically for people to play board games in, although it can get a bit rowdy sometimes.

/QUOTE]

This seems to be more of a european thing

***

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Yeah... In my experience the definition of "gaming store" changes wildly depending on the area of the country you live in and the relative wealth of the area. IMHO part of the draw for gaming store play is it forms a sense of community around a physical location. Sure, you could do this at a bar or coffee shop too, but at a gaming store the environment reeks of geekdom. (sometimes literally)

When I lived in Indiana I played at a small gaming store in a strip mall. The owner put his heart and soul into that place and it was awesome despite shortcomings like leaky roofs, a single toilet, poor airflow, etc.

When I moved to Seattle we're spoiled to have gaming stores like The Mox (https://www.moxboardinghouse.com/) with a bar, restaurant, wargaming room, Magic gaming room, private rooms, and a giant ballroom sized open gaming area. Spaces like this allow our lodge to fluctuate weekly attendance greatly... Enough players for 5-6 tables? No problem. This place offers something that would be hard to replicate at a coffee shop.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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I have to say that I've found this discussion a cultural eye opener. It is interesting to hear how all our public gaming spaces differ. I could never see gaming in most American-style bars -- the lighting, noise and blaring TVs would be problematic. A European-style pub makes much more sense.

But it is interesting seeing how different even our gaming stores can be. Some of the ones that I've gamed at are much like OP described -- unpleasant with rickety chairs and iffy bathrooms. Others are fantastic, with great lighting, an on-site restaurant, and lots of seating. My location, Dreamers, is in between. It has a cozy little room that feels like a clubhouse for us to game in, and while there's no restaurant on-site, we have three nearby asian restaurants that are awesome, and they allow us to bring in real meals so long as we purchase snacks.

My take away: there are huge differences in culture and venues. Why game in a gaming store? Why game in a bar? Does it really matter? We game where our community is, where they welcome us, and where it's convenient.

In the US, often this is a gaming store. Elsewhere, it's likely to be something different, and that's okay.

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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I think it very much depends on the bar. When our local game would be ousted by Magic tournaments, the Teakwood Tavern was always welcoming to us. Sometimes the indoor seating would be too loud, but the patio was an option as well, outside the months of death ray beams from the Daystar anyway.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Andrew Christian wrote:
Besides, we have one of these FFGEC

I have been so jealous since that opened up. If there is any reason for me to ever go to Minneapolis that would be it.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

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For non organised games (Home games) i would never game at a store, that is what my Game room in my house is for. But for public Organized play the Game Store is a very important part of my growth.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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When I was a kid, my parents would have been somewhat leery of me going to spend the day at some adult stranger's house. But a public venue like a game store was perfect.


waynemarkstubbs wrote:

In light of the new Retailer Incentive PFS program, I'd really like to understand where this obsession with playing in game stores comes from.

I understand why it's great for the store - they get a captive audience for the period who will be exposed to their stock, may be incentivized to purchase, and may even pay for the privilege.

I understand why it's great for the game publishers - "hey, Mr Store Owner, carry our stock/support our organized play programme, look at the footfall it gets you"

But for the life of me I can't understand what's in it for the players. Who wants to spend hours playing games in a shop? I refuse to believe that there are locations out there that are sophisticated enough to have a games stored but not a cafe/pub/hotel etc. within walking distance.

Maybe there are fantastic luxurious game shops out there with comfortable chairs, sturdy tables, adequate toilet facilities, a wide selection of hot food and snacks and drinks, table service, wifi, proper disabled access etc. but I have never seen one. Whereas my local cafes and pubs offer exactly that. And as long as you're not being disruptive and spend some money commensurate to the time and space you take up, they don't really care what you get up to. Which is pretty much the same criteria that the games shops would apply.

So - sell me. You can choose to play in a cafe, and have all the things I describe above. Or you can cross the street and play in a games store that, on average, won't. So why on earth would you choose the latter?

All those things you state sound really cool but the one thing you are generally lacking from those venues are more like minded individuals. Folks coming into gaming stores who see an active gaming community are more likely to join in and thus the community continues to grow.

Secondly if your local gaming store does not have access to at least some of your above items then they just are not doing it right. No store should be hosting a 4 hour gaming session for multiple individuals without the proper toiletries. Store should have the proper access for the disabled and even when space is limited should do everything in there power to accommodate. Wifi should generally never be a problem. Tables and chairs are a must if they plan to host gaming. About the only thing that the FLGS may fall short in will be the food/drinks department.

But hey, gaming is great in general so play where ya like. So long as folks patron the FLGS and we get to stick around to supply the gaming community with the products they want then it's all good.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:


There is a place out here called AFK Tavern. It was designed from the beginning as a gamer-tavern. I really enjoy going there. It's also a great place to meet some of the game designers who work for Paizo.

That is a very sweet set up, but sadly not on every corner.

It's a 45 minute drive for me to get to the comic shop that hosts us. There isn't anything closer.

And for that we appreciate you and the endless hours of awesome gaming that you bring.

Grand Lodge Venture-Agent, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka J. Wilfong

waynemarkstubbs wrote:

...Maybe I'm just getting old - I expect a certain level of comfort while playing. I'm not willing to put up with uncomfortable chairs, wobbly tables, a single grotty toilet, and a food selection that runs to pizza and Haribo...

You know, for some of us that describes our homes rather than our game stores, and we go there for the amount of space and accommodations?

Hell, some of us might not even have chairs!

Dark Archive

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I walked 25-30 minutes on weekends to go to Neverland Games in Hagerstown, MD just play PFS. Game stores opened me to the hobby.

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