Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear Classic Games Customer

Dear Classic Games Customer,

We're all getting older. You with your white hair and record collection and me with my growing belly and books made of paper. I mention this because both our interests are mostly in the past. For games, that means the classics for you. Backgammon with real ivory pieces, cribbage boards made with rare hard woods, and chess sets constructed from the bones of velociraptors. Me, I want to run an 80's era fantasy store entirely devoted to Dungeons & Dragons and the games of my own youth. You know, the games you told me would lead to devil worship and suicide when I was a kid. I'm still here! Satan be praised! (kidding). We all want what we can't have.

Our games have a lot in common, actually. They book-end my store. Yours are in the front, letting all who walk in know that this is a real game store, not one of those high fallutin' video game stores. In reality, classic games are in front because nobody wants to steal them. It's also an area known as the decompression zone, invisible to most people and thus a great space for slow selling stuff. My games are in the back corner, hidden away until you take the Tolkienesque journey to the far reaches of the store. They're back there to avoid frightening you. Some can't remember why RPGs are bad, but they're certain there was a reason (see above). In fact, we sell classic games like newspapers, sitting up front while we sell RPGs like porn video tapes, squirreled away in the back. How much of a dinosaur do you have to be to engage in either of those mediums?

In my case, the world has moved on. Most kids nowadays, sophisticated and multicultural, can't identify with the European fantasy of my youth. They find it quaint and reeking of The Other. In your case, the cost of goods and diminishing of natural resources means your games ares made in China, and probably constructed of plastic. We hunted elephants to near extinction for those ivory game pieces. Yeah, they're pretty. I know. Hand crafted I can still get you, but it's expensive and you don't want to pay for that.

Blame the Wal-Martization of this country and the search for ever lower prices. It's also what led to the poisoning of our children with ever cheaper toys. But I digress. In the case of classic games, you are just plain stuck. I can offer you the typical triad of options: good, cheap, available, with your choice of two.

That is why you see fewer stores carrying the games you love. My cross to bear is the diminishing role of the fantasy games I love, now accounting for single digit percentages of my own store sales. Alas, stores cannot stock what does not sell. If you do want to buy from me, I'm there for you, for now. It's out of a sense of propriety really, community service. Perhaps it's a nod to my father who played chess for Penn State or my wife who played cribbage in the bars of Alaska. As much as I dislike seeing the disappointment in your eyes, I know that there just isn't a solution to your dilemma, our dilemma.

Take care,

Aging Game Store Owner
and Dungeon Master

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