Friday, November 30, 2012

Shopping for Games: Online vs. Brick and Mortar

Just in time for the holiday rush, this timeless debate needs to be dug up, dusted off and re-examined:

In the 'old days', speaking candidly of the 80's and 90's game store markets across the country, your gaming selection was pretty straight forward. If it’s on the shelf, that's what you can buy; if it isn't, and we can't order it, you can't buy it, or you have to buy it elsewhere. At the heart of the issue is basic economics: supply and demand. People demand products, and the game stores supply them, exchanging cash for the customer's desired goods. Simple, right?

Now, in the modern day, the same principles of economics apply; however, with the advent of online shopping, the once simple economic transaction becomes embroiled in moral conflict, ethical dilemma, and the potential of direct, and subtle financial disaster for our fair game store proprietors. Let's look closely: Idealistically, you go into a game store, look for, and hopefully find a game that you want. Excellent, however the price is a little more than you'd like to spend at the moment...(it happens.) You are faced with a decision, buy it now, or look elsewhere...Now, more than likely, you aren't going to go to another game store. Most distributors will have some sort of price control on their products, or retailers aren't going to go below a certain price point and jeopardize their profit margin...(again, economic principle applies.) So going 'across town' won't really help, because if a price difference exists, it will be less than 10% in all likelihood, which will only cover sales tax, but the added time and gas usage going 'across town' will cut away into your gaming plans.

Aha! An alternative could always, (bum bum BUM!) check online! Surely, with an entire planet of games and gaming companies at your fingertips, you can find a better deal. Amazon, eBay and Craigslist call out to you like the Siren's Song of old antiquities summoning you to the rocky shores of gaming doom.

And here's why: Is the internet cheaper? Yes and no. While the price point is less than regular retail, sometimes by 20, 30 or even 40%, you have to take into consideration the shipping costs, and within the last few months, a few major internet retailers have even added sales tax...which further cuts into your forecasted expenditures.

Is the internet more convenient? Sure. Again, shoppers have a plethora of game stores, and retailers available to them on their computer screen. With a little bit of digging and comparative shopping, they are sure to find a bargain, given the caveat of our previous statement.

One drawback to the internet is that you have to wait for them to deliver it to your door. Most shipping timetables range anywhere from 5-10 business days; or less if you pay for express delivery (which again cuts into the overall cost.) But the ultimate shortfall of ordering games is simply this: When you shop at a local game store, which ever location you prefer, you are in essence becoming an investor. You are purchasing 'stock' or 'controlling interest' (to borrow a financial term) in that location. The advantages being that you can hold the product, look over its contents, and with a bit of research, find out from the store staff how the game is selling, how it plays, and what benefits and features that game contains. We've all had games that have a great deal of hype, but have fallen flat. Your local game store is where you can separate the fact from fiction, whereas the online alternative is more interested in a quick grab of your well earned money, not your overall satisfaction with your gaming experience. Many game stores have a gaming library, or distributor demos at your local store to try out and even rent. Trying something before you buy it is definitely a rare and beautiful thing with any product you may find in the real world, and with the cost of some games, you want the biggest bang for your buck.

Here's how: If you buy online, you may get it cheaper, sure. But the drawback to gaming is this: you very rarely are able to play by yourself. You need other players, a community, somewhere to play. These needs, simple though they maybe, are all met by going to your game store. If and when you buy from them, you are supporting your local community, and keeping their doors open. You are reinforcing your desire to game, play on, and involve yourself in the community. Better still, by purchasing more, you are increasing the profit margins of said locations, and give them more leniency on discounts down the can buy it today, and play it today.

So before logging online, give a second thought to your local gaming establishment...your conscience and your game store will thank you for it!

Make it a gaming day!

Geoff Barton


Miskatonic University

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Pick Out a Game That You Will Enjoy

With both the gaming community and hobby expanding outwards faster than is perceptible, there is quite a variety of games, genres, publishers, producers, designers, and companies out there in the world jockeying for your 'dice-dollars'. Game stores, comic shops, bookstores, and even big box stores are carrying selections of games well beyond your standard compliment of Stratego, Clue, Risk, and Monopoly.  So the questions you ask yourself, as you stand before this wall of games are: How do I know what I'm buying? What's good? Is this going to be fun? The answer is simple: research; and it’s easier than you think.

    So we'll start under the assumption you have a game (or two) in mind. You're satisfied with the price. The packaging, promotion and concept seem appealing, but somewhere in the back of your thoughts linger some doubt. Not to worry. The first place to look for information about the game is the company website. Now, here, you may find that the company is giving you, the consumer an overload of how awesome this game is, how there is nothing like it, how easy it is to play, and just really putting the spotlight on the product. However, with a bit of digging on some sites like you can find rules and instructions on how to play, FAQ's, tutorials and errata. In addition, you can always log onto the forums and see what other players have to say.

    The next step is to find general gaming forums, or sites such as, or The former is a general gaming site with opinions, links, and general how-to's pertaining to gaming. The later is an extensive and complete guide to all things board gaming, including critiques, pictures, reviews, ratings, and a marketplace for all types of board games, from historical war-games to limited edition or games with limited pressings, as well as foreign market items. This is going to be more of an in-depth user guide to the games, how they play and general overview. Its going to be a bit more detailed than the company site as it will highlight not only the better aspects of the game, but the gritty shortcomings as well.

       Another step you can take if you are actively involved with social media is to check on a game's Facebook page, either official, or fan-made. This will give you a greater feel for the hype it generates and how well it has been received by the general populace. It will also have links to other similar pages to games from the same publisher, and gives you an opportunity to speak with people who have played the game, and who are interested in doing so. You can also go to your local conventions for more information. Most conventions nowadays, whether they are themed for comics, sci-fi, anime, etc. will have a large section for open gaming. By checking with the convention's website, and schedule of events, you may find that someone is running the game that you are interested in; or even better, the publisher could be running a demo of the game so that you can learn the ropes from the people who designed the game and market it to the public.

        But finally, the greatest source of information about a game should begin and end with your game store/comic store associate. They should be well versed in the trends of the game, if it sells, and if people are enjoying it. They'll be in tune with what people think and whether or not a game has been hyped, or if there is a great amount of interest in the game. They will also have access to industry magazines that will tell them about the product weeks, if not months in advance, and may have articles highlighting features of the product well before they hit the shelves.

        With so much out there to occupy your attention and to compete for your gaming dollar, it’s well worth the time to take and do a little legwork to see what you are getting yourself into. You'll find that when you do, your gaming dollars go farther, you enjoy the hobby a bit more, and you educate yourself in trends within the industry and become a little bit more of an expert yourself!

Make it a gaming day!

Geoff Barton
Miskatonic University

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Atmospheres in Gameplay...or Taking it Up a Notch.

Roll2Play is finally starting to blog again!

Thanks to Geoff Barton, we will have lots to offer from game reviews, gamer advice, making your gaming sessions awesome and so much more! Here is the very first article for Geoff to blog for Roll2Play. Please share with your friends, make comments and look for future articles soon!


Atmospheres in Gameplay...or Taking it Up a Notch.

Gaming, in all genres, across all mediums, has remained a fairly straight-forward process; players and participants gather themselves around a common table to participate in a game of their own collective choice. Whether board game, pen and paper roleplaying game, even the occasional miniature driven dungeon crawl, they play the game either collectively or adversarial and reach their inevitable, if not predictable conclusion. However, this pattern does not have to lend itself to mundane and repetitive gatherings, and mediocre gameplay. By playing upon the senses of those throwing dice, you are able to create a memorable experience and generating great interest in the events you host and officiate.

I. Sight: While board games tend to lend themselves to visual cues and spatial relations, you can take things up a notch by adding a bit of visual aide. For those interested in horror or mystery based games, think about adding candles, or even playing by candlelight. This adds an atmosphere of mystery around the gaming table, and the low light brings everyone closer together, and draws focus upon the playing surface. The addition of manipulatives and props also helps to bring a bit of flavor to the session. Period relevant costume jewelry, glass markers or counters can become jewels, or treasure. You can also encourage each of the participants to bring one prop; in the instance of a game of Clue, a weapon.

II. Sounds: Music can go a long way in generating atmosphere. Epic and grandiose soundtracks from fantasy movies can create a backdrop to your game, and motivate the players. Movie soundtracks work best, and can be picked easily according to genre. Many of the Old World of Darkness Games provided Soundtracks to their horror based games. You can also easily find old radio dramas on CD and digital media that have a plethora of sound effects such as the crunch of gravel under foot, or the screeching of a tire as a car races away from a crime scene. Period music, such as old jazz, or swing music for a Lovecraftian Mystery adds a touch of period specific mystique.

III. Taste: For the most dedicated of gamers and gaming groups. While on extended campaigns with pen and paper RPG's, I would provide snacks for my players. While adventuring on the road, I would offer dried fruits, nuts, bits of bread and cheese, and watered down wine (grape juice) and beer (stale ginger-ale). When characters reached the cities, I would take the time and effort to have ham and potatoes, warm bread, fresh fruits, warm cider and occasionally a potluck stew. This would add a depth to travelling on the road that would keep the players close to home, or at the very least, close to a tavern. And in instances of various cultures, you could change things up with ethnic dishes; Indian, Chinese, Slavic, French, and Spanish dishes.

While these recommendations are simply to aide the gameplay experience, I offer a word of caution: The purpose of gameplay is to enjoy your experience and build a sense of community and fellowship. Don't let your imagination run away from you and cause you to lose focus on your game. Remember to start small, and don't overwhelm your might find them TOO focused on atmosphere and not the game. But be sure to get feedback from your players, even encourage involvement and ideas from them. You may be running the game, but without them at the table, its solitary for all of us!

Make it a gaming day!

Geoff Barton
Miskatonic University

Friday, January 28, 2011

I responded to a blog that was on the Texicon.nt about how Game Stores are having a challenge with growing business. The issue is not having gamers in the store, but having them purchase. Here is the website for the blog, then Roll2Play's response.


I agree with everything you have written here. Getting, keeping and growing the business is the challenge for game stores, isn’t it? Game stores, well any business, with an actual store front have the same challenges. How do you get people to come in and spend their bucks with you instead of going into your store for a reconnaissance to find the same product cheaper online. That phrase, ‘build it and they will come’ no longer applies anymore. Like newspapers that have gone under because they can’t keep up with the online mass media. Businesses have to change and adapt to what they are doing. They have to go beyond the normal marketing and promoting. It’s time to think outside the box.

Look at the difference between Borders and Barns & Noble. BnN developed a product, Nook, that enable people to easily download and read books. Borders, instead of developing its own, reached out to other ebook developers and failed and may go bankrupted. BnN is not happy about this, because two book stores in one area will generate greater traffic. They have been growing the industry together. More people were reading books than ever before. Observers fear that loosing Borders may drop the number of readers out there. Businesses have to adapt and get creative. They can’t just stay cooped up in the store.

Here are things that store can do to offer something special and help change the mindset of buying online, versus going into the store and supporting your store. Games stores need to friend other game stores too. Create that healthy network that will grow the gaming industry. They need to know when new games are coming out and learn how to play them. When a customer walks in the staff needs to know the basics of all the games, not just their favorites. More people that know how to play Dominion, Catan and so on, the more people will want to pick it up and play it at home. One store alone cannot get the word out, it’s takes the gaming community as a whole.

Games store are going to have to host events, workshops, and so on to get people into the stores. Exposure is the key: Going to conventions, local events, supporting libraries, even getting involved with the schools. Support the chess club at schools, sponsor an anime club at the local middle school. Gaming tournaments, teaching games will also help to show the non-gamers how awesome these games are. This helps to influences people to pick up a game and take home so they can share with their friends and family.

The other area that game stores have to look into is bringing in mainstream folks. They need to reach out with events that will get non-gamers into the store. Reaching younger generations is crucial to establishing a base. The potential market is huge, it is the game store responsibility to get that exposure, bring those folks in and make them feel welcomed. I’ve been told over and over how important fandom is. Store can’t just sit back anymore. Some of the more successful game stores I know about, the owners rarely gets to play a game. He is out there talking to the people, teaching games, and doing so much more to not just be a store, he is creating a community.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fund Raiser Tee Shirts Are In!!!!

"That's How I Roll" tee shirts are completed and on sale now. I will get them on the website once I take pictures of them. I will also share the pictures here and on FB. They are a heather gray shirt with the print in white and black of a dragon rolling dice.

The sales for these tee shirts will go straight to savings that is funding the costs to open a brick and mortar store. These shirts are soft and cool. Short sleeves are only $20 and the long sleeves are $25. I have from small to 3L sizes. *I have to add tax, sorry folks. :-( * More details later. Here's your chance to support a future local game store that is already plugged into the local community, schools and gamers. Email me if you're interested.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Year in Review for Roll2Play

Happy Birthday Roll2Play-
As of mid November, Roll2Play became a year old as a gaming retailer. Yay!! We have played a lot of games since then. Inventory has quadrupled and the product lines are still expanding. We started with just a few board games, card games and dice games and just a few dice choices. Now when we go to conventions, we have to get at least two spaces. Miniatures are finally part of our product lines. We started with Anima Tactics and Heroscape. We have even begun scheduling the gaming events at different cons, including Yulecon and Texicon. Our dice selection has grown tremendously that I now order directly from two different dice companies, Crystal Caste and Chessex. Yup, we even have the inflatable d20 for the pools parties you nerds throw each year. :-D Our services have also grown. We don’t just sell games, but teach them too.

Events bringing gamers together-
There have been many events that we have tried out that have worked out great. Some of these events are teaching games to kids at the local Children Courtyards, fund raisers for different schools and organizations and vending at many conventions. I love how successful each of the fund raisers were. They have been a ton a fun, easy to host and many awesome games have been introduced to people fairly new to the gaming world. Other events that have been successful are gaming events hosted at home base. What a great way to feature new games like Dixit or introduce games like Dominion or even feed the already big following of Munchkin. You can bet we will have many more of these events. Our convention schedule has grown a lot. We now participate in a convention at least once a month. I hope to grow that to twice a month. It’s a lot of hard work, but well worth it. It’s a great way for us to hang out with our growing number of gaming friends as well as meeting new ones.

Our fan following has grown past my expectations! We have more than 200 fans on Facebook. Facebook has proven to be a great way to share when we are having events, when game masters are needed, when new games come in and so much more. When Roll2Play shows up at conventions, our fans come by to chat it up with us. That makes my heart warm up fast! Many convention organizers have invited us to other conventions just because they see us having a blast and they noticed how well received we are. This is really helping us to get plugged into the convention circuit. We would do anything for you guys!! Roll2Play is here for you!

Staffing, it’s still volunteer-
We have lots of game masters that love to get a free con badge, free food and play all weekend long at different events. You are guys are freaking awesome. The Roll2Play staff/support is getting well known and we continue to be welcomed back to future events and conventions. This is all because the folks helping Roll2Play don’t judge, take the time to teach the rules and do this with total respect to the gamers no matter their level of gaming knowledge. Remember, we have fans that are younger than 13, fans that are older than 60 and all those in-between. With this awesome pace, who knows what will happen next. I can’t wait!! We are here to spread the joy of gaming to everyone!!

I was invited to become Board Game Magnate for the Texicon gaming convention hosted in Fort Worth. Their second convention will be held in May 20-22, 2010. Roll2play will be there as a vendor and I am supervising the gaming schedules for that weekend. This convention is run by folks that are well plugged into the gaming industry. I like their welcoming attitude towards any kind of gamer and passion in bringing more folks into the gaming world. Their programs that help out small game stores are awesome. Just wait till you see the Game Wagon at the convention. I highly recommend making room in your May schedule to come out, support Texicon and try some new games.

So, what to expect from Roll2Play next year-
More events! More teaching! More games! Now that we are into our profitable months, it’s all about growth and getting an awesome war chest full of games and funds for even more growth! I am looking forward to getting more involved in discussions about the gaming industry that impact the casual gamer to the serious gamer to gamer that still has to be found. I think that this will definitely help to bridge that gap between serious nerds and main stream folks. Games bring people together. We have seen that happen over and over and over. I also hope to start bringing in guest bloggers. I realized over the last couple of months that my goal of a weekly blogging is not a reality. I need help! So, please, let me know if you are interested in blogging for Roll2Play. You can give a game review, share a gaming experience, bring to light interesting gaming trends and anything else gaming related.

What’s that, a real store? What are the rumors??
Yes, I have also been thinking about where and how to get the actual brick and mortar store open. First things first, it’s important for a new business to have at least nine months of bills saved up in the bank before actually signing a lease agreement. I hope that the numbers continue to look good and grow. At this rate, a store in two years is a real possibility. Imagine a store that you fans can say you were part of from the beginning. Phrases like, ‘I remember back when there was no store’… and so on will be used by the friends of Roll2Play today. So keep spreading the word about Roll2Play!

Here’s to an awesome 2011!!

Tiffany Franzoni
Owner/Founder of Roll2Play, LLC

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Anima Tactics and Heroscape

It’s been over a week on the blogging. No real excuses except that things have been very busy around here! I’ve also been thinking a lot about the next steps for Roll2Play. Improving the blogging and You Tube for sure! Now that we hooked up with Clan of the Fanboys, we will have more videos to share from them. They interviewed us and are a lot of fun. We sent them some games to try out for FREE! I will also be investing in the new iPhone. This will make creating videos on the spot quick and easy to upload to YouTube. I am also working on how to add a news fee or RSS to the site along with a link to the blogging. It’s all been part of the plan, but I have a lot of learning to do, technical learning.

Roll2play is definitely going to expand our product line in the next two months to include miniature gaming. We are starting with Anima Tactics and Heroscape. These games are fairly new to the miniature gaming industry and are quickly becoming high demand. I got to meet a rep from Anima Tactics and he taught me how to play. It was a lot of fun. You can place with as little as three heroes or build an army for a more epic game play. The stats are all on the character’s card. That means no memorization. He also recommended what packs and heroes to start with. My partner, Becky, and I wanted to learn how to play Heroscape recently. We did this by joining a tournament and checking out how to play Heroscape videos. We had a blast!! Everyone was so welcoming and fun loving. We even won a prize! Then again they did have enough prizes for everyone. No one left empty handed. We are definitely going to enter more tournaments! We will keep you posted as to win the products are in stock and on the site.

Last but not least, I wanted to let everyone know that the ever so popular Munchkin games by Steve Jackson Games are getting updated to include multiple colors. That will be so cool!! I can’t wait to check this out. I have some of the cards left that will now be considered out of print. *hint* Buy now as these will go fast. As soon as the distributor has the new updated cards in stock, I will replenish the Munchkin games. I expect that to be in the next month.

Coming up events:

*End of Summer Reading club event at Lake Cities Library on July 29th. We will be demo-ing games. We will also have games for sale to help fund raise for the library.
*Gen Con August 4th – 8th to scope out new games. I will be getting my gaming on with my brother. We are serious gamers and are looking forward to being with other serious gamers.
*Dallas Comic Con August 28th and 29th as a vendor. Come check out the con and see us in the dealer’s room.