Monday, 14 October 2013

London Games

I posted a while back about there being a lack of "holiday guides" for gamers when travelling.

Before anyone gets excited this is not where I announce my plans to launch a new blog with that sort of information...  instead I'm going to reflect on my recent visit to London through a gaming lens.

We opted to travel by train for a number of reasons and this gave a real opportunity to try out some family board/card games that I've picked up.

Hey, that's my fish! - I have the Android app for this as well as the board/card game and it's becoming a favourite of my daughter.
I'd also managed to pick up 2 games by Playroom Entertainment in one of the local charity shops. Unusual to see anything hobby related in those shops so I picked them up given the opportunity.  Those games are - Monkey Memory and Top Dogs.  The first is a simple memory game (hence the name) whilst the other is an arithmetic based game with some strategy involved.
Each of these games were played on the way down to London with varied success but ultimately were popular enough for us to play them on the way back up too.  Along with one of the new games that I picked up in Leisure Games - Rat-A-Tat Cat which is a bit of a memory and arithmetic game.

Speaking of Leisure Games...  On Wednesday I took the trip out to Finchley to check out Leisure Games, a shop I've planned to go to for quite some time.  It's always interesting walking into a FLGS for the first time to see the layout and the way the staff operates.

First the good (and it's almost all good) -
I spent a good hour in the shop having a look around.  The staff greeted me on arrival and were happy to let me browse for the time that I was there.  The selection of games available (particularly board / card games) was fantastic.  I found myself walking up and down the shop thinking "maybe I should get this one or maybe this one instead" a lot which probably frustrated the staff!
So what did I buy?  Well, in addition to Rat-a-tat Cat I managed to pick up the 3 mini-expansions for Sentinels Of The Multiverse that I missing. Ambuscade, Unity and The Scholar. New game wise I finally decided on Panic Station.  Why did I opt for that?  Well it looked cool and I wanted a cooperative game with a sci-fi theme.  I also picked up Atomic Robo dice for FATE that were released recently by Evil Hat Games.  I didn't expect to find these so they were a pleasant surprise.
When buying the games the guy at the counter was friendly and helpful.  He mentioned their upcoming Sentinels Of The Multiverse Game Day on the 20th October which if I'd been in London at the time I would have gone along.


Now the not so good (like I said it was almost all good) -
Layout wise it could do with some changes.  The boardgames didn't really seem to be arranged in any particular way which on some levels I don't mind but it didn't make it easy for me to find anything or indeed know if they had anything I was specifically looking for.  Yes I could (and perhaps should) have asked for help in looking but browsing in any new shop is part of the experience.
Also layout wise the play space at the back of the shop also appeared to be the staff hangout area which just felt wrong.  Staff were only on the shop floor when helping customers and serving behind the counter. This made them feel a little detached from the retail space.  If I had been the only customer in the shop and needed help it would have felt like intruding on a staff only area.
I also have some minor gripes with how the customer service was handled.  Not with me, my service was great, but with another customer who was in asking for RPG advice.  The staff member was enthusiastic and giving lots of information about products but to me it felt like information overload and the staff member didn't seem to be giving the customer the chance to absorb any of the advice.  From what I picked up the customer was new to hobby games and in particular new to RPGs.  None of the advice was "wrong" more that there was too much variety and quantity of information for a new gamer.