Game Rooms and the Importance of Play Environments

Richardglobalheader (4)
When you were a teenager you may have had a friend whose family had a place in their house which was dedicated to playing competitive, action games.  Some of these were like pieces of furniture:  There could have been a pool table; a Pinball Machine, Foosball, ping pong or Air Hockey.  That place was called "the play room" and having one (or even knowing someone who had one) was really, really cool. 

In addition, there were games that were big but could be stored away.  There was Nok-Hockey;

Table Top Hockey; Carom (did you know that there were Japanese and Latvian versions?); Electric Football, Skittles and, possibly hanging on the wall, darts.

Many of these rooms offered a bar, popcorn and even an at home ice cream parlor.  Let me ask you this question.  Is there a better way to keep your children safe and to create a social atmosphere that draws friends and relatives than a family playroom?

It seems to me that one way to grow the toy industry is to reach out to those who create these environments.  Do you think that the toy industry adequately embraces these forms of play?  Does it work with furniture companies, architectural and / design groups to encourage the creation of play environments?   If you have information on this area of play or an opinion please let us know.



2 thoughts

  1. My perspective comes from the tabletop game industry, which is slowly learning the importance of engaging customers in the store. Sadly, many retail owners underestimate the importance of providing a clean, friendly environment in which to encourage customers to play.
    Understandably, there is the issue of money. Many game store owners wonder if the added cost of more square footage is a good ROI. A large part of that will be determined by the price of your monthly lease versus the size and demographic of your market. Once the retailer has made that commitment, however, making that space as clean and inviting as possible is key.
    It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It doesn’t have to match, it doesn’t necessarily have to be “pretty,” it mainly needs to be sturdy, safe, and clean. I thought I’d throw in a few examples of game companies and retailers that are “doing it right:”
    Fantasy Flight Games Event Center: They are a game company and not a retailer, but the overall style is very inviting. The white tables with adequate space, the simple but sturdy chairs, the bright overhead lighting to give players plenty of light is fantastic.
    Card Kingdom in Seattle: Their website doesn’t show any photos, but if you do a Google search for “Card Kingdom Seattle,” there are a lot of photos from patrons. Their store is high-class enough that Paizo Publishing has held Pathfinder release events at the store. It should also be noted that the store includes a modest bar that serves sodas and adult beverages, not sure on pricing but as you mentioned Richard, it provides a nicer environment (and added revenue).
    One last link, Geek Chic Furniture: That’s a Sultan table, one of their more pricey models, but they have other offerings in lower price ranges. I don’t know exact figures, but apparently they are doing fairly well because they have a backlog of orders. My wife and I were considering writing these into our initial store loan to put in our “deluxe game room” in the back of the store, and then setting up a “rental” pricing structure where each player paid $5 but if you wanted to buy something for more than that, your $5 went towards the purchase. The Game Master (if they’re doing RPGs) is always free, because usually that’s your more social player that organizes things, and if they have the option of the nice space, they’ll encourage the players to go there.
    One more point that I haven’t seen any retailers do but I’d like to look into is adding ventilation. Nothing’s worse than going into your FLGS on a Saturday afternoon and walking into “nerd stank” from the Magic/Yu-gi-oh/Warhammer tournaments of the morning. I don’t know what kind of square footage the average bathroom fan can handle, but for a little added cost, a store owner would make their space much more inviting.

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