Still affectionately referred to as the “Bad Batch” from an earlier SW:TRPG(WEG) game, our group meets every Thursday night to hustle a table in the corner of our local game shop. Sure, we could play at any one of our houses, but as we are all 30-something adults with jobs and spouses and even kids, we find that the local game shop does a better job of capturing the “mom’s basement” vibe that we all cherish from our middle-school, high-school and (for some) college years.
From a mechanics standpoint playing in a game shop gives us all a destination and gets us out of the “sitting on our couch” rut in much the same way that showing up for a business meeting feels more “official” than phoning it in. We ritualistically “leave” our work and family lives, and go meet in a purpose-built space to begin our game free from the distraction of TV, pets, wives, girlfriends, parents, kids and a hundred other distractions. Despite the somewhat distracting locals that occasionally stop in to watch us game, I find the game shop atmosphere really helps us stay on topic and spend significantly less time watching Big Bang reruns and looking at cat pictures on the internet.
From a game master’s standpoint, playing at the local shop takes a lot of the pressure off as a host. Drip Dry and I no longer have to worry about cleaning up after house guests once a week, providing snacks or entertaining any smaller groups that break off during game play. The game shop takes care of the cleanup – and because we’re at a game shop, the players do a better job of cleaning up after themselves – provides snacks (that the players can pay for themselves or if I’m feeling generous, mine will let me run a tab for the whole group that I can settle up at the end. I have not done this yet – but I could, and that’s nice) and while I’m working 1:1 with a player, the others can catch a game of M:TG or MLP:CCG (I’m looking at you, The Fez) or whatever.
And from an adult, responsible gamer’s perspective it means foot traffic in the game shop which will help drive business to the store by making it look busy. Our store (which I don’t have permission to publicize yet but I may update this article later to include that information) has been awesome working with us and even gives us Amazon prices when we buy books or game mats or miniatures. I am going to be buying my Dresden Files RPG books from them very soon and I already have a new game mat on order. I make my own miniatures, but they helped me track down and buy the bases that I use with them.
So in short, support your local game shop. Good ones are a commodity that we need to cling to like the precious things they are.