The Diaries Of A Geek Stubbornly Dragging His Comfort Zone With Him Into The Wider World
Last year I went to Liverpool and subjected myself to its’ populous for a weekend. This year, myself and my girlfriend went to the Lake District, and for those of you outside of the UK or utterly oblivious to national parks, they’re a place of long walks up hills, along lake-shores, and through drystone wall towns and villages predominantly made of Mountain Warehouses, cafés, pubs, ice-cream stands, and tourist shops. These are not particularly places where one might find a comic book, computer game, or anywhere where geeks may gather en masse, but still a great place to unwind, just take your own games.
We went equipped:
- A full set of D&D core rule books each with notebooks so that we could sit and write campaigns.
- Mancala – an African board game that I highly recommend.
- Eight Minute Empire – A quickfire game of rapid expansion and gathering power that takes a lot longer than eight minutes when you’re only just learning.
- Boss Monster – A game who’s purpose seems to be to humiliate me. First of all it strongly resembles a game I’ve been working on for waaaay too long, not only that but my belovèd girlfriend utterly destroyed me repeatedly. It’s about building an 8-bit sidescrolling dungeon to kill heroes in.
- I also took a load of Magic decks because I fully intended to get round to teaching her to play. Never happened.
We also stopped in Liverpool again to catch up with the same friends and get in some quality geek time. Turns out they had a copy of Exploding Kittens (now available for purchase according to an email I got earlier today) so naturally we squeezed in a few games. It turns out it’s exactly as awesome as the name would have you believe, although I have to say that the NSFW version doesn’t add an awful lot except scope for more players.
The next day proved a point.
After a brief stop in Kendal (that we agreed to revisit, it looked promising) we arrived, settled in to our caravan, and went out for a meal. Within minutes a family settled onto the table next to us, we engaged them in conversation, and the geekiness emerged. It took staggeringly little time for us to start discussing games, and we sat grinning at each other as we realised that gamers can find their own kind anywhere, even in tiny villages in the countryside.
That’s satisfying. Our love to that family, who may never read this, but at once we felt like we could go nowhere and want for conversation with like-minded people. It turns out that there if you’re willing to talk to anyone who’ll listen, eventually you’ll connect with someone in a place you never thought you would.
Tuesday took us into Windemere, the largest town on the edge of the largest lake in England. After about twenty minutes milling around in search of parking and truly drinking in the British holiday-going experience, we started to search in between the tourist hotspots and outdoor clothing chain-stores for a sliver of local character. And this is what we found in a small side-street bric-a-brac shop:
- Thirteen issues of Dragon Magazine, dated April 1988, May ’88, June ’88, August ’88, November ’88, December ’88, March ’89, May ’89, July ’89, August ’89, December ’89, March ’90, July ’90
- Six issues of independent gaming magazine G.M, dated December ’88, January ’89, May ’89, June ’89, August ’89, and January ’90,
- Three issues of Games Workshop’s White Dwarf, dated April ’85, October ’86, and February ’87
- A Warhammer army list book called Ravening Hordes
- And finally a second edition Red Box Dungeon Master’s Guide (sadly annotated by a former owner)
Now to say that the condition of these magazines is far from perfect would be fair, they were dumped in a charity shop and some of them pre-date me, in fact most of them do. Nonetheless they are amazing. Sitting and leafing through just a few of the articles was an amazing experience I’ll go into in greater detail at a later date, but they were a fascinating look into how things have both changed and stayed the same. At £12 for the whole stack and the look of slightly smug glee on my girlfriends face as I poured excitedly over her discovery, I’d say I was ultimately the one who got the better deal here, no matter the state they’re in.
Middle middle middle we had fun, and food, and played games and made our way home via Kendal, and upon re-visit my on-board geek-shop compass dragged us from Games Workshop and into a market wherein we discovered Level 8, the gamers’ refuge on the border of the Lakes. Level 8 are currently a market stall but I hear are about to make the move to larger shop premises and good luck to them. As well as all the traditional fair they also have a surprising range of nerdy knitwear.
On the subject of local gaming stores:
e-Collectica Games Day October 2015
It approaches on swift wings! In the Morris Hall on the 24th of October. Shropshire and West Midland locals keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, and here for updates and information.