When we started doing conventions seven years ago, our passion was fueled by seeing how board and table top games brought people together like nothing else. Over the past years, as we’ve grown to opening the brick and mortar store, we’ve also been thrilled to see the industry grow as well. It really is an exciting time to be a part of the industry.
The greater Houston area has around 6 million residents and until recently extremely few game stores to meet their needs, especially given how spread out our city is. Now, with twenty game stores in the immediate Houston area and around one hundred in the greater Houston metropolitan area, gamers have more choices in finding a store that is a good fit for them. Similarly, with all of these choices it’s easier than ever for someone just getting started to come across the game that makes their heart sing and sets them off on their very own tabletop game journey.
As of this past Tuesday, we now even have TWO game cafes. We were lucky enough to be invited to a preview event at Tea & Victory last weekend and I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely one of the new gems in Northwest Houston. The atmosphere is inviting and relaxing, and the staff are equally friendly and welcoming. They offer a variety of delicious food that nails a pub food-high tea fusion while also offering familiar American comfort foods. The tea is impeccable and they have a delightful selection of beer and wine. All of this and you have your choice of hundreds of games to rent from their diverse game library.
We haven’t made it over to Coral Sword yet, but it’s definitely on the list. Little known fact: the inspiration for GeekLife came while on a road trip listening to SModcast, which regularly features co-owner Ming Chen. Plus, we are still flattered that co-owner Hunter Pence snapped a selfie at our store, so while it would never be the same coming from us, we feel it only right to return the favor.
It’s also exciting to see how gaming culture is gaining momentum as a featured topic in mainstream media like NBC, Forbes, The Atlantic, NPR, the Washington Post, Vice, the Guardian even has an column in their Lifestyle section dedicated to board games and our own Houston Matters (41:10) is running a segment this week. Additionally, once niche sites like Geek & Sundry, Shut Up and Sit Down, and others are becoming household names and sparking conversations around the water cooler.
Part of the driving force behind this momentum is the shift in focus of many stores to being more inviting spaces and working hard to alter the stereotype of our industry. That is part of what sets GeekLife apart. We have been at the forefront of moving beyond welcoming diverse clientele, to including everyone we interact with. Inclusion is at the heart of what we do and we believe it is the way to authentically build community. It’s also a lot of fun.
Diversity and inclusion are so key to who we are, that we have taken what we learned and now teach others how to nurture their diverse communities. Last month, I was a part of SXSW Gaming where I shared best practices, tips and insight on Nurturing Diverse Communities in Gaming. I’m looking forward to sharing similar insights at Compicalooza in May and at GenCon in August. If your company or organization is interested in diversity and inclusion, please feel free to reach out, I love helping others create more inclusive spaces.