Tuesday, January 03, 2006


All the schedule-juggling for this week’s Conquest of the Empire session due in part to the fact that Dragon’s Lair closes at midnight some days and nine o’clock at others reminded me of a now-closed game store in Knoxville, TN, where I used to hang out.

It was called The Adventurer’s Inn. Technically, legally, it was a store. It had a rack of role-playing material, shelves of CCGs and card sleeves, a handful of miniatures for Battletech, dice, candy bars, and a fridge full of soda. As a store, it sucked. In reality, The Inn was a gaming club. As a gaming club, it rocked. Dues were ten bucks a month, and coupled with sales of soda and snacks, were the primary way The Inn paid the rent and electricity bill every month. The owners weren’t trying to make any money, they just wanted a place to hang out with their gaming buddies – and they had a lot of gaming buddies. Running the place as a club also let them kick out anyone they didn’t particularly care for, but it wasn’t a power they used often. If you were a gamer, you were welcome. At its peak, there were about fifty dues-paying members.

The Inn had an 8 x 8 felt-covered table for miniatures games, plus terrain. It had a pair of 4 x 4 felt-covered tables for boardgames. There was one of those long fold-out tables for role-playing games. On a shelf in one corner was a selection of boardgames for general use. It had nasty mis-matched carpet and smelled like a musty basement. The best feature The Inn had, however, was its schedule. It opened sometime in the late afternoon, and closed around at around four to six in the morning, depending on how long people kept playing. It was staffed by volunteers. More than once I left after a long night gaming and winced at the harsh light of the morning sun and the hard truth that I had class in two hours.

I played my first games of Settlers of Catan, Iron Dragon, Cosmic Encounter, and multiplayer Magic at The Inn. At one point, I was playing in three separate weekly D&D games. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go back to gaming every single night and skipping sleep at least once a week. I’m not as young or as free as I was then. But part of me misses that grungy little hole-in–the-wall.


At 11:00 AM, January 03, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I had a gaming place just like that in Dayton, Ohio, when I was in grad school.

The store was operated by this guy who was an exact clone of The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy. For some reason I can actually only remember the name of the place as the Android's Dungeon (i.e., from The Simpsons), though that wasn't its real name.

I totally remember the dank, awful smell of discarded pizza boxes and nasty carpet, the big plywood tables, the almost non-existent merchandise for sale, and the open-all-night policy. I think $10/month was about what I paid too.

I recently drove by there while in Dayton on business, and I was sad to see its now a hair salon...

At 11:29 AM, January 03, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

The Inn is now a tattoo parlor.

At 1:48 PM, January 03, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

[maudlin rant]

Jon and I were two very lonely boardgame players for a long while, only having haphazardly stumbled into boardgaming several months earlier. We thought about putting up fliers for a group at UTSA or joining one at a comic shop, but my thoughts would always lead me to this vision of overweight smelly types arguing about Star Trek (a rather unsettling image). So there we played in my house night after night, merely at ease with our own misery.

I use to be involved with a group of Palladium and Rifts players back in high school when I lived in Indiana. I can honestly say some of my best memories are of staying up all night and roleplaying out the most retarded storylines ever conceived by a group of sardonically Schick nerds.

When I moved back to SA, I pretty much gave up all gaming, video and RPG, and tried being cool for awhile (these things seemed important as a senior). Although that plan did end up working out more or less, I still pined for my time as a geek. So, years later, while being stuck tagging along in a Toys R' Us for some random little person's birthday gift shopping, my eye caught the glint of a Heroscape display box. Quickly I pushed it out of my mind, but a strange thing happened a few days later. There I was, back in Toys R' Us. This time I stared longer and actually picked up the box and briskly headed toward the cash register. I did feel a little awkward buying a bunch of toys as a grown man, but I simply could not resist.

After perusing the internet for all things Heroscape, I eventually landed upon Heroscape.net. Its untimely demise then lead me to BGG and a strange eureka type moment as I poured over all the games that I never knew existed. I often wonder if all these boardgames were more widely advertised and known, maybe this hobby would be infinitely more popular. Sometimes when I walk out of a gaming session at 2 in the morning with a bunch of odd ilk, my mind can not help but think how sordid this must all look to the laymen.

Anyway, inevitably I found this group and now I have a steady fix to my lost and bewildering love that is this truly strange medium. I think everyone who’s given a piece of their heart or mind to the hobby has taken a jittery little journey. It’s a strange world and I’m quite content as it is.

[/maudlin rant]

That's about as good as I can wax poetically.

At 5:39 PM, January 03, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Wow, great post, Simon. You'll have to tell us all sometime what "being cool" entails...

Don't worry. You're okay; I'm okay; we're all okay. We're just geeks! Hopefully we can keep converting more innocents to the board gaming cause!

I too feel a little weird in Toys 'R Us scoping out games during their 2-for-1 sale and digging for Heroscape boosters. More than once I've had Moms start talking to me like I work there... A warning sign perhaps...

At 6:28 PM, January 03, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ben: "You'll have to tell us all sometime what "being cool" entails..."

Method acting. Oh, and no boardgaming. *ack!*


Post a Comment

<< Home