Monday, October 17, 2011

Gaming Stores: See You at the Crossroads

I was blog surfing tonight when I came across an old post at RPGDiehard about gaming stores in Columbia, Missouri. My dear childhood friend, Evanne, moved there while we were still in high school. I visited her a few times while she lived there, and on one visit we spent some time at The Danger was the summer of 1998 and it was the day I discovered Steve Jackson's In Nomine, an rpg that I would brood over for months before buying a copy and Playing the Hell Out of It (no pun intended) for the rest of my high school days. I was sorry to read that The Danger Room closed up shop early last decade.

With that in mind, I just wanted to pour out a virtual forty for all the gaming stores that I used to frequent that didn't make it.

This one is for Spellbound Books and Games, where I read my first 'zine and bought my first miniatures. It was my gaming store from fifth grade until about halfway through college, even when they moved from right by my high school to snooty south Lincoln.

For Comic World, where I played Call of Cthulhu for the first time.

For Hobby Town USA in Eastpark Plaza, where I bought my first issue of Dragon Magazine and tried my hand at a public game room for the first time.

For Cosmic Comics, which my mom could never pronounce correctly. ("If you're good, we'll go to Cosmic Cosmics!")This was where I got my first big boxed set.

For FantasyQuest, for having a sweet ass sign, even if I never actually bought a book there...

For the place whose name I can't even remember, that nobody remembers but me, located somewhere in Havelock. They had an X-Men vs. Street Fighter arcade machine and a bitchin' Shadowrun 3rd edition wall scroll. This was the place where I first read Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

For Anarchy Comics, the first place where I ever felt like a gaming hipster. (Not necessarily a good thing, but a formative experience, nonetheless)

Maybe it was Amazon, maybe it was the industry crash in the late 90's or early 00's or whenever... maybe it was just the dawn of a different time.

...and I say carry on to the places that still manage to hang in there: Dragon's Lair, Ground Zero Hobby, Coliseum, Krypton Comics...I salute you.

Oh, and because this was too delightful for me not to mention--

Latest term used to find my blog:

"pink hairless thing with tentacles"

...first of all, why was something typing that into a search engine? Secondly, why did it take them to my blog? (I dimly recall creating something like that when I first got my copy of the Esoteric Creature generator, but that was a couple of years ago)


  1. It's from a July 5, 2011 post, something about random monster from an email.

  2. Man there were a lot more gaming stores in our town than I remember... you are a whole year older than me (maybe 2 or 3 I dunno) so that might be it.

    Ahhh... east park... and spellbound...

  3. I hear you, brother! Sometimes fads bow out; there used to be hobby shops here in San Diego (good size town, right?) half of whose floor space was taken up with pay-by-the-hour slot car tracks. Over the course of about two weeks, they all disappeared. Other times, it's technology; I mean, who has an 8-track anymore? I spent 30 years board and miniature gaming, until the computer hit its stride. Now the choice is to wade through 300+ pages of rules and two-dozen die rolls to open a door, or just walk up to the door (on the TV or computer screen), turn the knob, and see what happens. We have one store left, Game Towne, that is basically a museum of card, board, and miniature games. It's like stepping into the twilight zone. I'm a slave to the magic box myself, but it's a hell of a trip stepping in there now and then; I'm instantly a teenager again. These are fast-moving times... You have to turn on a dime to keep current.

  4. Yeah, I decided to forget trying to swim the fast current and just enjoy the water. I can't count the number of stores like you guys had but we had few to start and none now (hell, I ran the only one in the town I grew up in). Mondays were awesome. Just a short hop on the motorcycle and within minutes your paycheck was gone! :)

    It was a different time.

    But I have to admit, of everything since, I have been enjoying this period the most. If you can think it it can probably be done. Blog, write your own game or zine, play video games, order anything from anywhere in the world without changing clothes over a morning cup of coffee no less.

    The old days rocked pretty hard, but this ain't to shabby :)

  5. raven- Well, Anarchy and everything after that are down here in O-town...still, I actually had forgotten about FantasyQuest and the place in Havelock until I was well into writing this post.

    ...say, while I'm on the subject, is Gauntlet Games still around?

    Jack- Call me old fashioned, but I'll take the die rolls and charts to another uninspired Final Fantasy sequel or samey computer game any day. :D

    Grognard- Well, I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and I cling to the likely mistaken belief that things were somehow better in the past.

    Cap'n O: Thanks for that. It was a splendid monster, indeed.

  6. Right, Ryan, you're one of the guys keeping these few remaining stores going. For the most part, I tend to prefer older, low tech stuff in general, where imagination isn't packaged up and handed to you, but I'm over sixty now. I don't know how many years I have left, and to spend them all reading charts and looking up die rolls seems counter-productive at this point!

  7. Haha, I don't think I'm keeping them going... I think they survive off the Yu-Gi-Oh kids and that kind of scene.

    I used to love video/computer games, but I've grown so incredibly picky about them. I've still got my youthful glow about me, so I'll stick to charts and such.

    ...although, I actually prefer games that are simple and minimal on the charts...

    I like to think that when I'm in my sixties, I'll still be crouched over a yellowed old gaming book. We'll see, though. ;)