Across the Board

Across the Board looks at gaming in public spaces around the world. In countries all over the globe people gather to play games in pubs, community centers, cafes, churches, and all manner of other meeting places. This series will describe some of those places and the people who gather to play games there in an attempt to encourage others to emulate them.

Borders Books, Dallas, Texas

Article by Tim Kelly
October 1, 2000

Howdy from Big D!

A little history: the Dallas Games Group have been around since the 80's. We've met in City of Dallas recreation buildings, a pizza place, and a local game store. When The Game Chest (Dallas' best game store) moved to smaller digs, we started looking for another place to accommodate our play sessions.

Enter a new trend in American book stores: large and larger still. There are two major chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders. Anywhere else but Texas these stores would seem cavernous. Here they finally give readers enough elbow room to herd a brood of children, locate obscure works of fiction and polish off a few pastries and a cup of coffee, all without leaving the store.

One of our members noticed that the local Borders has 'family game nights', and we gave it a try. Wow! Am I glad we did!

The Pros to playing in a public place:

  1. Recruiting: Tracey, Nancy, and Carl stopped by to watch one evening, and have been coming back ever since. We never fail to attract curious onlookers in the coffee shop.
  2. Always Open: Borders is open every night, and they're open until 11pm! No one or two members need always shoulder the burden of hosting games nights each week.
  3. Come and Go As You Please: Work schedules vary. I'm always ready to play at 5:00, but some folks can't make it until 7:00. There are enough of us to have several tables gaming at one time. With no host, no one member needs to be there to greet the first gamer or stay until the end of the session.
  4. Discount Snacking: The coffee house gives gamers a 20% discount on food and drink. Members can come there straight after work and have a snack supper while playing. The host doesn't have to wash dishes, or support the eating habits of a ravenous gaming army.
  5. Other Attractions: Someone taking a bit too long plotting moves in Tikal? The magazine rack is not far away. Gaming in a bookstore! Does it get any better than this?

The Cons? Not many, really.

  1. The Librarian Effect: Our negotiations must be a bit softer than some of our more boisterous members would prefer. And we've had to put a complete stop to the 'pistols at 20 paces' business after games of Kohle, Kie$, Knete.
  2. Monsters Must Be Leashed: Skip has created a 2x3 METER board for his turbo-charged version of Axis & Allies. We won't be unrolling that on the Borders coffee tables anytime soon.

Other than these minor points, I haven't found any cons!

Shameless plug time! Check out our website at Web Guru Kevin Ames does a wonderful job of keeping all of us connected with mailing lists, bulletin boards, and timely updates. We meet up to three times a week: Tuesdays at one Borders, Thursdays at another, and some Saturdays at various homes. We've got men, women, family types, singles, old geezers like me, and young'uns, too. During the week we play mostly German games, and save the longer stuff for weekends. We've played Die Macher, Talisman, and everything in between. This group has a wonderful "we'll try anything" attitude. There's a high level of competition, and fun. If y'all ever pass through Dallas, stop by, and be ready to play!

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell