Charitable Gaming

Y’know how I keep saying that geeks are the best people?

Geeks are the best people! We’re a loving and sharing band of over-enthusiasts, and as a demographic we have money to spend on random stuff that we occasionally look at and say “Y’know what? I don’t have space for any more Pop Vinyls, and I am definitely not getting rid of the D&D minis to make space for them. I’ll stick some money in savings and give the rest to people who need it!”

Sound like a generous strawman with money to burn? For proof turn to the good people of Gamely Giving, Special Effect, Child’s Play, or the lesser known local heroes like the guys I met in Coventry last week.

Despite numerous trips to the Warwick Art Centre I’ve never seen Coventry itself, so opportunity arose for me to take my usual nerd-tour of a new city and I seized upon it. As it turns out Coventry wears Geek firmly on its sleeve, not thirty feet into the city centre and I walk straight into Escape Games and get a quick run down of the local community. I was in a mood to go places and talk to people with my personally ramped up to 12, the kind of mood where I get on my own nerves, so more credit to the good geeks of Coventry for dealing with me.

After a few minutes pre-emptive Christmas shopping (yes in May) I offhandedly said to put the change into the charity pot, and that’s what got owner and proprietor James Coote talking.

Escape Games is a community interest company (CIC) ran as a nonprofit, returning their revenue into events run for local youths who perhaps have nowhere else to go, no after school programmes, and the game-shop forms the locus of their social lives. As a raving communist I was hooked from the word Nonprofit and had to know more, so I took a look around their set-up.

The cushy upstairs is typically full of tables and chairs for breaking out games, a library of games for anyone to pick-up and play (purchase or no purchase) and a little lounge area in the corner complete with a small pile of consoles and games. Now this is good business practice, it forms habits amongst your customers encouraging them to come back, spend some time and spend some money, but when that attitude is no longer motivated by greed and driven by something more noble, it’s a cause worth mentioning.

It should be said that Escape Games are not alone either, while I perused their neighbour Young’s Hobbies my mother sat downstairs chatting with the owner. He takes on teens and young adults with learning difficulties for work-experience rotations. In fact overall I found that the city – while it may have looked seriously rough – had a huge community of gamers driven by care and motivated to help one another, a little focussed microcosm of what I’ve been saying the whole time!

I’ll be back in Coventry for Kitacon in August, and I have plans to go on the Thursday to try and socialise for a little while, maybe sneak in a few games, maybe even a little one-shot roleplay. But I think I’ll be taking the time to wander into the city centre again, and revisit the places that motivated me to take to my keyboard in praise.