Game store offers pastime (video)
March 27, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.
There's a place where green, muscled Orks rise up in armies, where sorcery and enchantments are everyday occurrences, and a roll of the dice can mean the difference between life and death.
And that place is right here, in Victoria.
All For One Games opened for business March 9 at 6412 N. Navarro St., Suite D. The goal, owner Doug Whiddon said, is to provide a safe, family-friendly environment for Victoria's large and underrepresented gaming community.
"The only places people really had to play games was in their garages," he said. "We didn't like the fact that they had to order their stuff online or go to one of the bigger cities. We needed something like this."
The carpeted shop offers wide gaming tables where people can set up rounds of Warhammer 40,000, Dungeons and Dragons, Munchkin and more, free of charge.
Meanwhile, displays allow visitors to purchase everything from graphic novels to new games and the supplies to paint their models as they see fit.
Victoria College student Sami Hetherington entered the shop about 2 p.m. Tuesday, armed with paint supplies and a padded case to protect her yet unfinished Warmachine models.
The 19-year-old, who also works at Renaissance fairs, said she remembers shopping at Goldmine, one of Victoria's two former game stores, when she was younger. It's nice to have a new option in town, she said.
"You get to know people," she said, carefully laying out her supplies. "People in the same circles.
A snack bar, couch and Netflix-enabled TV are there for gamers looking to hole up for the night - the shop sometimes remains open until 2 a.m. to accommodate long games - or girlfriends and children who go along but aren't playing.
Although the shop welcomes customer suggestions regarding new products, there is one stipulation.
"Nothing electronic," Whiddon said.
The venture got its start as a wild hare, Manager Philip Marlowe said, when he approached Whiddon, a friend and fellow gamer, about opening a shop. Whiddon's father is in the oil industry, he explained, and had the money to get the project off the ground.
After a profit/loss study and forming an initial plan, Whiddon's father handed over money and offered to pay the first year's rent. After that, Marlowe said, the business should be self-sustainable.
As for now, however, all employees volunteer their time - hence the name All For One - and no one draws a paycheck.
Marlowe said the shop has received a positive response, and change is coming as All For One gains its ground.
Matthew Clem is among the store's regulars.
Clem first began gaming in 2003 and said that, in the days since the store opened, he's made it in as often as possible.
Not only does it offer a chance to play Warhammer, his favorite game, but it also carries health benefits, too.
"I'm using the games to quit smoking," a barefoot Clem said, curled in a chair.
The community element, really, is what he said keeps people coming back.
"It's a place where those of us not accepted in the general crowd can go and be ourselves," the Victoria resident and soon-to-be dad said. "Nerds can be nerds."
Victoria Web developer Carl Bosier agreed, referring to the shop as "'Cheers' for a certain demographic."
"This is where pretty much everybody knows your name," he said.
While the regulars might maintain a sense of camaraderie, the courtesy doesn't always extend to the game pieces at hand.
Bosier said it isn't uncommon after a particularly bad roll for someone to take a die, crush it with a hammer and sprinkle the dust atop the others, "to teach them a lesson."
Whiddon recalled a similar incident, where someone formed a circle of dice and set the guilty one in the center so the others could watch as it was smashed.
"We have our own way of doing things here," he said jokingly.