Geek and Gamer Culture on Tabletops Across Raleigh
What comes to mind when you hear the word “game?” For some, it conjures memories of gleaming trophies won by tough teams on fields or in courts, spotlighting champions of athleticism. For others, the word reminds them of a comfy couch and a worn-down controller, celebrating virtual strategies. And there are still others who are fondly reminded of dinner tables, decks of cards, and lengthy, hilarious nights with friends and family.
That last group, the Tabletop Gamers, have been the nomads of gaming world for years. Unlike Sports Fans or Video Gamers, Tabletop Gamers continue to struggle to find a space to call their own. Local businesses like Game Theory and All Fun & Games are taking full advantage tapping into this growing audience, and there seems to be no shortage of patrons willing to spend even in these cautious times.
But why has Tabletop gaming become more popular, and why now? Let me back up a bit and preface my answers with a clear definition of what Tabletop Games are. They include Card Games, like Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, and Yugioh; Board Games, ranging from classics like Monopoly and Clue to relative newcomers Settlers of Catan and Betrayal at House on the Hill; and the complex, expansive, and imagination-driven Roleplaying Games, like Dungeons & Dragons and Champions.
None of them require an open field or an expensive computer, only a table (or any flat surface, really).
All of these games were once considered part of a tiny niche, but now have a broader base of players than ever before.
That broader base exists for three reasons. First, the surge in popularity and growing acceptance of video gaming in modern culture has carried with it the idea that games don’t need to be simple to be enjoyable. Complexity is stimulating. Second, Tabletop Gaming is among the most affordable entertainment options, and the recession is forcing gamers to rethink their spending habits on state-of-the-art virtual worlds. Third, the wide variety of games available increases the odds that someone will find a game or two they like, even if they don’t consider themselves gamers.
Gaming people & places
The patrons of local game stores certainly identify themselves as gamers, no matter what their calling in life. They are nurses, biologists, and chefs; spouses, parents, and grandparents; wealthy, poor, and everything in between. It’s a broad demographic to appeal to.
Game Theory in particular has a nice selection of Games, snacks, and drinks, but their most important draw are the tables. They’re providing a home, and the gamers show their appreciation by packing the house every night.
So why is this community of Tabletop gamers worth mentioning? It’s important to note that as far as culture and technology have brought us, our imaginations are what drive our culture and technology– and how we have fun is a good indication of how we use our imaginations. Tabletop Gaming requires social interaction, intuition, and a deeper understanding of rules and why we need them. If our games are this complex, it speaks volumes about our society.