When a Friendly Local Gaming Store… isn’t
A few months ago I lamented the closing of a well-liked game store in town. I thought maybe it represented a microcosm of a contracting gaming industry as a whole. It turns out the owner of that place just wanted out, and somebody else bought the stock and is trying to reopen a new place in a different location. Cool! Another great place for games in our town! Maybe this industry isn’t in trouble after all! Or maybe it’s cutting it’s own throat.
A common acronym in this hobby is FLGS or Friendly Local Gaming Store. This refers to the brick-and-mortar stores that cater to people who are fans of RPGs, CCGs, board games, and sometimes comics or collectables. Most of the advocates of the gaming community champion these stores as they are vital to new people discovering the hobbies we all enjoy, they can be a great place to meet other players, and places to get together and play some games.
Hillside Games in Asheville, NC has been one of these stores for years in our community. Until recently. When the above mentioned entrepreneur bought up the stock of Blitzkrieg Games, he announced he would be opening a new store in west Asheville called The Wyvern’s Tale. Once the announcement was made on facebook, Hillside proceeded to purchase every possible domain name (.com, .net, .mobi, etc.) that contained thewyvernstale. The whois records for all of those sites are in Hillside’s name. The Wyvern’s Tale posted these public records on their facebook site to let people know what was happening. Once news got out, a lot of the gaming community in town got up in arms. Hillside has since locked down public comments and “recommendations” on their facebook page to silence critics. But here is the icing on the cake, Hillside is filing suit against the Wyvern’s Tale for libel. Unfortunately for Hillside, a charge of libel has to be substantiated by the one party telling a LIE about the other. The Wyvern’s Tale was just exposing the truth.
So who cares? Why not just change the name? The Wyvern’s Tale might, but it’s the principle of the thing. Many of our readers don’t live anywhere near Asheville, but those that do should know the type of people they do business with. But beyond that, it’s important for businesses to know there are repercussions for their actions in the court of public opinion. If competition moves to town, compete by having good prices, the best staff, the best selection and a welcoming environment for gamers both new and old. I hope Hillside serves as a cautionary tale of what not to do in business in general, but in the FLGS community in particular.
I’ve purchased several things from Hillside Games, and was planning on purchasing more. It’s closer to my house, and I’ve met some great people there. No longer. I’ll drive across town to the people that deal on the level, and compete honestly and openly for my business. I hope other FLGS owners read this and understand gamers are a pretty close-knit community, and they should foster a sense of community and honesty in how they do business that helps grow the hobbies they serve.
Alright. Soap box over. Tomorrow we will be the proud host of the RPG Blog carnival with the topic: Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing RPGs!