The interest of board games has increased in the past few years, fueled by movements such as Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show ‘Table Top’, where he and a few (sometimes famous) friends play a specific game every other week, teaching the viewers at home how to play. He exposes his audience to new board games that allow even the most novice player to truly enjoy.
Independent game stores have been flourishing recently with the recognition of tabletop gaming. Fair Game in downtown Downers Grove, IL is an independently run store that sells games of all kinds. Josh and Eric, the owners, make everyone feel at home. With a welcoming smile, each customer is treated like a welcome member of the gaming community. There is no elitism even close to being present in the shop. They suggest games for those that are merely browsing and follow up games to some of the more popular titles. Game nights are held a few times a week, consisting of Dungeon & Dragon sessions as well as allowing their customers to peruse the open games and play what they’d like with anyone who cares to join.
The passion these two men share with their families and customers is apparent. Customers feel at home in Fair Game. A number of large tables are open for customers to test drive the stockpile of games in the back before they are purchased and the guys have no problem showing you how the games work. Even their kids get involved in the experience, and really, who can turn down an eight year old when he asks if you want to play a round of Eleminis? Josh and Eric can generally tell who has watched the latest episode of ‘Table Top’ by what the customer brings up to their counter, and the guys seem to enjoy the inadvertent publicity they get. From the more popular group games to some of the more obscure, Fair Game carries a wide range of games that can entertain just about anyone.
It’s fascinating to see the recent surge of gaming stores, when just a few years ago, the more popular ones in local malls were going out of business. And while independently owned stores are not always the most thriving, the business seems to be holding its own, especially in the suburbs.
Table top gaming, whether it involves boards or dice or pencil and paper, don’t just consist of the family games like Monopoly and Clue. Wheaton’s Table Top has brought indie games to the light and main retailers are beginning to carry games that would have never been seen next to games like Yahtzee and Risk. He and those who are committed to the movement are starting something amazing. Families and friends are beginning game nights again, spending more and more time together instead of separated by computer screens and Wi-Fi.
More about Fair Game and the work they do in the local community can be found at their website here.
All of the TableTop episodes can be found here on the Geek and Sundry YouTube channel.