How do you make friends to play games with? Open a games shop of course!

Welcome to my first time writing a blog.  I intend this to be somewhat of a semi-regular article where I’ll be writing about the goings on in our shop, commentary on the board game industry and running an FLGS and just life in general.  For now though, I’ll go where this all started.

Firstly, for those of you who don’t know me and don’t know my background a bit of history won’t go amiss. I own and run a small tabletop gaming shop in Kingsbridge, South Devon but that is a long way from telling my story. My background is most definitely NOT in retail.  I spent ten years in the British Army in the Corps of Royal Engineers where, amongst many other things, I trained as an electrician and upon leaving the military my course looked set to be as an electrician throughout my working life. Fate intervened, and I ended up going to university in 2006, graduating with a Masters degree in Electronics Engineering five years later.  Again, my course looked set, my ambition was to become a Chartered Engineer and spend my years working in that field, but it wasn’t to be.  I can become bored and restless if I’m not challenged and I’ve always struggled to make friends.  In 2017, I found out why, thanks to an Occupational Health referral I was diagnosed as having “High-Functioning Autism of the Asperger’s Type”, in other words I was Asperger’s autistic or Aspie and had been my whole life.  At this point, a lot clicked into place and because of a number of reorganisations within my employment, I was no longer feeling challenged by my work and struggled with getting things like putting together my Chartership application done.  I needed to do something different.  I had met, my now wife, Rachel in 2016 while she was living in Kingsbridge and I was in Plymouth which introduced me to the place I now live and work.  One of the things I had asked her was where the local games shop was in Kingsbridge, the place just felt like it would have one, and I was disappointed to learn that it didn’t.  So, around the time of my autism diagnosis, I said to her that maybe WE should open the board game shop for Kingsbridge.

So, that’s where this then all started.  I had been a gamer for many years but because of the amount of moving around I did (and, as I now know, my autistic traits),I rarely found a regular gaming group that I could fit into easily so struggled to do as much social gaming as I would have liked. As many gamers can probably attest, owning your own shop is one of those dreams I’ve always had and never thought would be possible.  Rachel and I started looking into the viability of having the shop and realised that it would be doable while I was still working and after a few bumps in the road we were able to open in Easter 2018.  The response to our opening? Wow! That’s all I can say, is Wow!  The past six months have been phenomenal.  I’ve made friends with people that I would not have otherwise met. Rachel has reconnected with people she vaguely knew 20 years ago.  We’ve been thanked for opening and our impact on the community has been nothing short of brilliant.  For me, for the first time in my life, I feel part of a real community.  In reality,there are two communities here.  There’s the general community in Kingsbridge, and then there’s the gaming community.  I feel a part of both which is something that I have rarely experienced. 

So, the next time someone asks you what board games can do, send them here.  I’ll post more about what we had to go through in opening the shop and the different people that come in.  Just remember, board games are for everyone, not just for the kids. 

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