by Moritz Eggert
I sensed a certain kind of confusion about what word I was talking about in the last show, so for all of you who couldn't understand it:
The German word for pawn is "poeppel", and it is written "p, Umlaut o, p, p, e, l". It has nothing to do with the colour purple or Whoopi Goldberg for that matter.
I take a break from the German gaming essays to give a bit of a reaction to Tom's rant against game stores 2 shows ago. And to talk about game stores in Germany.
You see - there are practically no specialty game stores in Germany, at least not for German or Euro games. This is what confuses many potential game buyers in Germany - they look for a friendly local game store to buy games, when in fact they can go to ANY department store or toy store and get a pretty good selection of games, often priced very cheaply. When I want to buy the 34th expansion for Settlers of Catan or the new Knizia game I don't order it on the internet at a specialty seller, no, I simply go to the next Kaufhof or Hertie or whatever the department store is called, grab a game from a huge wall of quality games, and that's it.
If I want to be educated about new games - which I, as a gamer geek, of course don't need - I would go to a toy store like Obletter in Munich, because there the staff would actually be knowledgeable about the games they sell, which is not the case in the department store.
The specialty game stores that do exist in Germany exclusively concentrate on the usual CCG's or Miniatures products, with comic books and some foreign board games thrown in for good measure.
And you know what? I love these stores! Every time I go to a new German city I usually check out the one specialty store for foreign games that usually exists and immediately pay it a visit. I find it so much easier and accommodating to actually be able to look at the games I'm going to buy, even better, getting it out to play a game or two with the store owner. Of course, I might impulse buy the one or other turd, but then I might also discover games I've never heard of, for example the obscure gems you were talking about in the last show. I hate it when these stores only sell CCG's and miniatures, and I love it when they also sell SF novels or good comic books or DVD's and film paraphernalia. Because that's what a good game store should be: a treasure trove of wondrous things where you can get lost for hours wandering about. It should be a friendly, welcoming place, that's the way it works. Somehow clicking through a bunch of web pages doesn't do the same for me, even though I use the internet to get hard to get games. I think the game stores and internet sellers complement each other, ideally they both go together, like for example Fantasy En'counter in Germany.
After the upcoming of the internet and Amazon many thought that now all book and record stores would die. Many have, but not all. The one's that have survived are priceless. You wouldn't want all book stores closed as well, Tom, do you?
To tell a personal story: Without game stores I wouldn't be a gamer. When I was 12 I was in New York for the first time. At home in Germany I had just discovered the fantasy game "Dungeon", which had a German version, and I wandered around the streets hoping to find a store that would sell me new maps to play the game on (people who know the old TSR Dungeon will know what I mean). For some reason I ended up in one of the best New York game stores: "The Compleat Strategist". And I was awestruck. In the one day I spent there I discovered the wonderful world of role playing games (more dungeon maps and total freedom, wow), wargaming (through some cheap Task Force Games that I could afford) and so much more. I had found a new hobby.
And when I was back in Germany, ordering incredibly high priced import games through the one mail order seller who existed at that time, I always envied the Americans who could just walk to their friendly local game store to find all these wonderful games.
I know times have changed. It is so much easier to order games per mail now, and so much cheaper. But still, we shouldn't underestimate game stores as a place where one can actually get into the hobby. You know, in Germany there is no need for such advertisement, because boardgaming is more part of popular culture than in other countries. Even non gamer Germans can list an incredible number of quality games if asked what games they know. But the great American, English, French, Italian games wouldn't be known at all here if there weren't some shops around promoting them.
So, Tom: Don't ridicule the game stores, only the bad ones, we as a hobby need them now, AND in the future. And did I tell you about the day I once walked into a Swiss game store and found a still sealed "Talisman the Adventure" for only 15 Swiss Franks? Which I then sold later for 100,-EUR, with an incredible profit?
So let the game stores live long and prosper, Tom.
Until next time, and don't forget to watch the world cup opening ceremony on June 9, 4 p.m. CET, if your local TV station shows it.
All the best,
©2006, Westpark Gamers