A few weeks ago I talked a little about GenCon, one of the oldest — and largest — conventions in gaming, and this past week tens of thousands of proud nerds, geeks, gamers and assorted riffraff descended on Boston and Atlanta for the Penny Arcade Expo, better known as PAX, and Dragon Con, respectively. Both are huge events in the gaming industry and lots of fun if that’s your thing.
Sadly, I couldn’t make either event this year, but I did manage to make it to a slightly smaller scale get-together this week — the New 52 Birthday Party at Tyler’s own Ground Zero Comics.
Now, just in case you’re not a huge geek like I am, or are a huge geek but have been living under a rock with no Wi-Fi and limited contact with other huge geeks, DC comics — publishers of Superman, Batman and a host of other iconic heroes — relaunched 52 comics with revamped stories one year ago this month.
For the anniversary, DC is publishing special “zero editions” — primarily prequel-style origin stories — all month long and to celebrate, the folks at Ground Zero held a little comic-themed bash.
And, as no truly nerdy affair would be complete without a side of table-top gaming, the folks behind Ground Zero’s tri-weekly game nights got their thing on with “HeroClix” — a superhero-themed board game described by assistant manager Michael Seigler as “chess with superheroes.”
Seigler, whose family owns and operates Ground Zero, organizes the store’s tri-weekly games nights. While Wednesday and Sunday tend toward smaller-scale table-top games, they still attract a small but steady crowd. Friday nights — when hoards of fans descend on the shop to play the popular card-game “Magic: The Gathering” — often pull in several dozen, he said.
Seigler said he’s noticed a serious uptick in interest when it comes to table-top and board games.
“The recession has really driven up interest. If you go out to a restaurant, for a family of 4, you’re looking at $40 or $50. If you apply that $50 bucks to a board game, you’re set,” he said. “This is a family business. I play a lot of stuff here with our game groups, but I take a lot of these home and play with my family, too.
“It’s a great return on your investment. You can get so many hours of entertainment from it, more probably than a video game.”
Not that Seigler’s knocking video games — they’re part of what helped make gaming, and geek culture in general, cool. But video games often are solo affairs and even multi-player games can seem solitary at times.
“Everything moved to video games for a while — and I love video games — but it’s sitting at a computer hearing voices through a headset or a speaker, as opposed to face-to-face,” he said. “That’s an important part of gaming that people are rediscovering.”
Ground Zero Comics hosts games most Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Visit groundzerocomics.com or call 903-566-1185 for more information.