Going Analog in a Digital World: Local Gaming Centers Keep it Real
Americans shop online, communicate through text, slack and e-mail, converse with Alexa and drive connected to GPS. Is the writing on the wall? Are board games and card games a thing of the past? Not in the Rogue Valley where some gaming centers are thriving.
These centers specialize in analog entertainment—puzzles, card, roleplaying, and board games.
“We do not sell video games. We have a running joke on how many phone calls a day each of us will get asking if we do. We kindly let people know on the phone or in the store, ‘Sorry, no we don’t carry video game related items.’ We do comics, board games, miniatures, and card games,” says Aaron Hassell, owner of Astral Games in Medford. He has been at the helm for the past ten years with no end in sight for analog adventures. They do have a game center next door that has digital stuff too where you can use gaming systems and even VR.
When asked what is the most unique, bizarre and/or interesting game that he has at Astral Games? Hussell says, “We have an arcade game that is pretty unique and interesting. Killer Queen; it is a two to ten player game that is akin to classic joust. Sure, it is not a classic board game, but it gets people down here Mondays 7 -9 pm.”
Playing games in person with other people you can see, joke with, and get to know fosters social interaction and builds relationships according to manager, Richard Scovill, from Fun-Again Games in Ashland. “What you experience playing board games helps you determine if you want to be friends with players. Are they cooperative? How do they handle accomplishment and competition? You find a whole lot about the people you are playing with.” He believes that in the digital gaming world this is not always the case.
Fun-Again Games in downtown Ashland is having a fantastic year according to Scovill. “Business has tripled” since they moved to their downtown location a year ago. The manager attributes this to location, exposure, foot traffic and smoky days. While other close-by businesses are struggling with a Summer downturn, he has not noticed. Fun-Again Games attracts families with their wide selection of board games from classics like Monopoly to escape games like Unlock or Exit. College students come in for the beer, wine and pizza and participate in role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or Captain Sonar—a live time game with a lot happening at once. Older adults visit for the convenience and proximity to restaurants and theater. Anyone can partake of the gourmet box lunches that can be delivered along with other yummy goodies like ice cream or chips.
Gaming centers can be experiential havens, but people may want to choose their type of experience wisely. Scovill describes a memorable encounter he had with a game called, This War of Mine, that gave him bad dreams. “It was a very bleak and dark existence where I was a civilian survival of war hunkered down in a city. It is an adventure-type game encounter that left me feeling desolate.” On a positive note, he believes it is amazing that people can share in events they have not personally gone through to build awareness and compassion for others. For those who want to get their game on, visiting either Astral Games or Fun-Again Games can be an analog dream.
Astral Games, 125 South Central Ave, Suite 110, Medford, 10 am – 9 pm, Mon., Wed., Thurs., 10 am – 12 am, Tues., Fri., 11 am – 10 pm, Sat., 12 – 7 pm, Sun.
Fun-Again Games, 149 E. Main St., Ashland, 10 am – 8 pm, Monday – Sunday