With International Tabletop Day around the corner, we’re counting down the days to the big celebration by highlighting friendly local gaming stores, their owners, and their awesome stories. Be sure to find an ITTD event near you so you can enjoy the festivities in your community.
Opened by publisher Fantasy Flight Games in November of 2013, Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, MN is a retail store, full restaurant that serves coffee, beer and wine, and a “premium play space that [is] wide open, full of natural light” that can accommodate over 150 players. And, as manager Kyle Dekker adds, they even rent it out for weddings (they have four booked for this year)!
Kyle has been managing the store since August 2015 and has noticed a resurgence in interest in tabletop games. Every night, every table is filled and “the crowd is getting more and more diverse,” he notes. “We are seeing families, we are seeing women, we are seeing young people, we are seeing older people…We have home school groups of kids and their families who come in on the afternoons to play various board games. I do tours, kind of field trips, as schools come in. They want to learn about the various games that are available in the hobby industry..and the variety that’s out there these days.”
He attributes this increase in popularity and customer diversity to a more welcoming game-scape. “[T]he shops are very open now. They have amenities for everyone. I have a demo library with over 300 free games to play and the games range from everything from your very fun and simple party games to your very detailed and traditional board games…and everything in between. [T]here is a huge variety of quality board games for almost any inclination…There are games about quilting and knitting that are really fun, well-designed games with great production value. And I think that broad variety of quality board games for many different interests and more game stores that are open and friendly and welcoming to everyone are kind of creating this perfect storm of an inclusive, welcoming environment to play these fun games.”
Kyle’s entry into tabletop gaming was an RPG when he was 9-years-old and he’s never looked back. He favors magic users for a very simple reason. “I think it’s the idea that Wizards and spell casters traditionally win through study, knowledge. Knowledge is power literally with a Wizard. While being a warrior with brute strength and all is cool, literally being able to destroy a dragon with your mind is also really cool.”
If you’re in the neighborhood, Fantasy Flight Games Center offers a lot of opportunities for both everyday play (like board game meetups) and tournaments including X-Wing, Star Wars: Destiny, Magic: The Gathering, and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. They do larger events as well thanks in part to their 4400-square-foot event space where the aforementioned weddings take place.
The Center also hosts many charity events every year. “We host an annual charity X-Wing Tournament called ‘Campaign Against Cancer’ that had nearly a hundred attendees last year, and should have another hundred this year, where all of the funds raised.go to the American Cancer Society. We host regular events for charity groups. We hosted a summer camp fair for the Boys & Girls Club in Minnesota a couple of weekends ago. We did a Star Wars roleplaying game play date…where myself and several other staff [members] basically GMed a [game] for a bunch of kids and families who are members of the HopeKids organization, which is a cancer survivor organization, and it introduced a whole bunch of kids to the Star Wars role-playing game.”
What do you love about your local game shop? We’d love to hear about it. Let us know!
Image Credits: Fantasy Flight Games Center