Sunday, May 21, 2006

I guess it had to happen eventually

Some of y'all probably know of my dislike for Ryan Dancey, the engineer of the D20/OGL movement. I still feel like he ought to be tarred, feathered, and run out of the hobby on a rail for the whole GAMA election fiasco. But that doesn't mean everything the guy says or does is wrong. I'm not so small minded to think that just because a guy is a jerk that he can't be right. Here's Mr. Dancey responding to a comment on Mike Mearls's livejournal:
but my nearest FLGS that stocks minis is about a 45 minute drive, and there's
> no guarantee that they have what I want

Here's 20% of the systemic, unfixable problems with brick & mortar hobby game stores. 5 years ago, most people would have treated a 45 minute drive to a game store stocked with cool stuff with money in hand and intention to buy as "Sunday afternoon fun". Today, the FLGS isn't generating enough value vs. the other options to get a guy who works in a game company and who knows how fragile the game store channel is to get there and go shopping. That is absolutely not an attack on Mike in any way; it's symptomatic of the whole problem: B&M game stores *DON'T* offer more value (in many cases) to the other options, and market forces are reacing accordingly.
I agree completely with Mr. Dancey's assessment of the situation. It used to be that my friends and I piling into my mom's station wagon to drive 45 minutes to Adventureland (RIP) in Bloomington, Illinois was an event. Now that same three quarters of an hour would just be a pain in the ass. Adventureland may be gone, but you can still find stores like it. Heck, it's been a month, maybe two since I've been to the FLGS that's a two-minute walk from my office. Why is that? Because on one hand I have online vendors that make shopping from them cheap and easy and on the other hand I have a filthy, overcrowded stinkhole with boxes on the floor that I'm constantly tripping over. What do I gain by that two minute walk? Not a whole lot past the ability to pick over the used section. And in most instances the prices in the used section do not compare well with eBay. Maybe if the play venues at the local stores were better I'd feel different. I'd like a place where I could down and play a nice RPGA event and not feel like I was slumming.

So anyway, let it be noted that on this point I agree with Ryan Dancey. I still think he's a jerk, but in this case he's not wrong.


  1. I have to agree with him as well. A decade ago, and even more recently than that, my friends and I would pile into my car and drive an hour-and-a-half to buy books from the 'cool' store on the northen end of the state. These days I find it hard sometimes to muster the energy to drive the twenty minutes to my local game store.

    I think it's because game stores, even the good ones like I have here in Pandemonium (Garden City, Michigan), have to focus their stock on what they think is wanted and will sell. So I can't drive down there and read through the games that interest me, the off-beat ones I mean, so why go? Unless I have a reason to go, like picking up a new release they have, I just don't bother going anymore.

    Sad really.

  2. I agree 100%. The B&M hobby shops have just lost sight of what they are and who they serve. I have to travel at least an hour and 15 minutes to get to a decent shop going northwest, hour and a half going north, and almost 2 hours going east to hit a good sized shop! When I get there, I don't expect the sales people to talk me OUT OF buying stuff, but they succeed!

    I am growing to hate E-bay, but at least I don't have to waste time driving for hours and I don't have to go face-to-face with an idiot sales person!