2017-08-22 23:22:28 UTC
game-store, the sort I haven't seen in decades. You know the sort;
small, cluttered, with every variety of game from old Avalon Hill
board games to the latest Pathfinder module overflowing the shelves.
One section of wall was dominated by dice of every color and variety;
elsewhere colorfully painted miniatures tempted me to expensive
purchases. The foyer was messily covered with advertisement posters
and "looking for game" requests from other players (most, sadly, years
old). And - of course - the register was manned by the requisite
grognard: grumpy, with an intimidating glare and as hirsute as he was
plump. I swear, all of these clerks are clones. It was - as I
explained to a friend - as close to geek nirvana as ever a place on
Earth could be.
Years past, these sorts of store were a dime a dozen; there wasn't a
mall in the vicinity that didn't have either a similar shop. They've
mostly disappeared; what few remain tend to rely more on hosting and
matchmaking gamers than actually selling product. I expect we have the
Internet to blame for that, and even those are hard to find. But I
pity the young gamer coming into the hobby without the overwhelming
experience of rummaging through the thousands of tomes and games such
a store might contain. Selecting a PDF from a digital storefront just
isn't the same.
Oddly enough, such a games shop was not my introduction to the hobby;
rather, I purchased my first module from a far more prosaic location:
the "children section" of a Barnes & Nobles bookstore (even then, the
stores weren't quite sure how to catalog role-playing games, but kudos
to Barnes & Nobles for not banishing the books entirely, despite the
fact that the Satanic Panic was at its height at the time). That
wasn't my introduction to the game - I'd already played it for a while
with friends - but that was where I bought my first book. If I close
my eyes, I can still visualize the display with all the books;
ultimately, I left with the D&D Basic Rulebook (the red-covered
edition written by Moldvay). It was the start of a very expensive
Later I discovered a "proper" game shop, located quite appropriately
within the dungeon^h^h^h^h^h^h^h basement of the local mall named -
rather unimaginatively - "The Games Shoppe". It was everything one
might expect of such a store; it's where I got my first proper set of
dice and spent more money than was probably wise. They hosted the
first gaming convention I ever visited too.
Eventually, changing markets forced them to relocate and other similar
stores to close; they stuck around through the early 2000s and then
only after having completely abandoned the hobby to sell comic books
instead (they renamed themselves "The Comic Shoppe" just to prove
their lack of imagination). Even though I had largely given up on the
hobby - or at least on buying new books - I was sorry to see them go.
There were other stores, of course including a used bookstore - where
I bought dozens of "Judges Guild" books at amazingly low prices - and
(of all things) a hole-in-wall newspaper shop that for some reason had
a shelf filled with RPG books in the dark corner in the back. Before
their great extinction, I visited many other stores here and there
too. All with the same clone manning the register, of course. But they
never quite had the same impact as "my first".
How about you? Where did you start your gaming habit?