Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Basement or Store: The State of Our Game

Alright folks, today we've got another Editorial on our hands, but this time with a little less rant. I want to know what environment you play in. Do you play in a store, in tournaments, or in your shed with your buddies?


I was hanging out in one of my LGSes and got into a conversation about a new store that's opened up nearby. The staffer of the existing store had the, albeit obviously biased, opinion that this new store wouldn't see out the year. His reason: They try to run it like a gaming club, not like a store. This was said with a bit of disdain, as though a friendly, comfortable place to hang out and game, as well as buy said games, was somehow incompatible with making enough money to keep the business afloat.

I think a bit of background is needed for our less than Australian readers. I live in Melbourne in Australia (down the bottom). I often read forum posts and blogs by people from the US and UK and I'm insanely jealous. These posts are always talking about the Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS). They talk about how these stores have their own meta and culture; and about how they're the hub of many people's gaming experience. In my experience, we don't have this in Melbourne. We have a couple of stores around, two are in the city (a GW and another store that's so small you can't game), and a few others scattered around the suburbs. The stores in the city aren't great for gaming. Taking models on public transport is an exercise in self-imposed anxiety - someone could kick my case, it could fall over, it takes up too much space and I feel like a jerk or some junkie might hassle me (I fucking hate interacting with junkies). Otherwise, you can drive, but driving in the city is its own rage-inducing experience and I don't like paying through the nose to park for a couple of hours.

The Battle for Jerry's Shed

The other stores have their own problems. Many of them are hives of MtG with little or no room set aside for miniatures gaming, or they have an oppressive atmosphere of isolation and despair. Basically, they ain't the warm, inviting havens of toy-based nerdery that I imagine when I read others' posts. The only other places to play wargames are GWs. Our GWs downunder are great, we're like-minded and happy people and the terrain is always top-notch. Sometimes they'll even lend you an army. BUT... I can't even talk about Malifaux or X Wing. I once got a quizzical stink-eye from a staffer when I asked about the Deathwatch RPG. Their own IP, but because it isn't supported in store, it doesn't exist.

We have a bit of a tournament scene, but it's not as big as what I've heard about overseas. I think part of that is purely demographic. The UK is a much smaller place; there are more people living closer to one another than in Australia. The US as well has something like 350 million people. Australia is roughly the same size, geographically, but with only 22 million.

One of the many reasons I love this hobby and have stuck with it for close to twenty years is the community aspect and the social interaction. I have made some great, and lasting friendships from this hobby. I love going to the store and trying to get a game with new people. Sadly, in my area, we've seen a couple of stores come and go. These stores have set up with the best of intentions, lots of tables with beautiful terrain and space to play, but after a couple of months, they've gone under.

So my questions to you are: Where do you play? Where would you like to play? What does a store need to be a proper FLGS? I want to hear your thoughts, Aussies and the rest of the world.

Hit up the comments with your thoughts.


  1. I live in the south of England, and its all clubs round here, not FLGS. Many stores have closed over the last few years or downsized (including GWs, many of which don't even contain a single 6x4 table now). However clubs are going strong, in pubs, church halls etc all around the country. Its games clubs that are the heart of wargaming in the UK. It always surprises me when I hear foreigners lamenting about the state of the meta, or not having anywhere to play. Start a club!

    1. Clubs seem to be the answer. We've actually got a couple going around in Melbourne at the moment, but none in my local area. I suppose then, it's up to me. Good thing I'm starting a club with my mates. As always, thanks for your input, Sir Resignation. Hopefully we can spark some interest and get onto a good thing.

    2. well done, I hope its really rewarding!