Monday, October 5, 2009

Regional Demographics of Gamers in the US

I'll probably land in hot water for the stereotypes I am about to bring up, but here goes.  I was thinking this morning about the lack of gaming stores in my area, Connecticut.  As far as I can tell from a few years of looking, there are none.  I have to go browse for books at the local big chain retail bookstores, and they basically only carry official D&D books.  The closest ones are in NY City and Boston.  Even then, NY only has like 2 decent ones.  That's for a city of what---11 million people?  All crunched into just a few miles?  

Then I read on various blogs about states in the midwest and west having tons of FLGS (friendly local gaming stores) all over the place, in little towns even and they stay in business.  In some instances, new ones are opening up. I know these states don't have anywhere near the population density of NY City or Boston.  Some states probably don't even have the population of these cities in total. And it's not as if the whole state is serviced by one or two stores.  The geographic distances make that an impossibility. 

So, what's the deal?  Are there more gamers in the midwest and western states?  Is there something about the culture that fosters this?  Or do the metropolitan coastal areas just buy the books online and value a sense of community less than these states?  Is the slower paced lifestyle more conducive to gaming and a gaming lifestyle?   Is this the same in less metropolitan areas around the world? Are hobbies like gaming and other hobbies in which you get benefits from having a FLGS nearby more prevalent in non-east coast-metropolitan regions?

What's up?

6 comments:

  1. What's up Joe. Good question; it's one that I've mulled a lot. I've lived in the Midwest since 1996 or so, and in Chicago since 2005, and I've been exposed to a bunch of different gaming scenes in cities big and small during that time.

    You know, I think there's something to be said for the slower-paced lifestyle that's enjoyed in Midwestern towns and cities. Folks here are more willing to dedicate an afternoon to painting minis, for example, or sketching out a dungeon for an upcoming game. Consequently, there are retail stores that support this, and they go out of their way to invite the community to enjoy the hobby as well.

    Most if not all of the games stores I've frequented over the last decade were warm, inviting places that operated like real stores (rather than just hangouts for the owner and his/her retinue). I worked at one of these places in Missouri and learned a lot about how to appreciate customers—which should be common sense for any retail establishment, but it still eludes some gaming shops.

    Also, the weather sends folks indoors for a good portion of each year, which encourages them to enjoy the creature comforts of gaming, which also helps prop up the local gaming stores.

    Plus, Gygax and his cadre lived and worked in Lake Geneva, Wisc., which helped cement the Midwest as the home of gamer-dom. Many, many of those folks are still living in the area today, as I'm learning.

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  2. http://sargescomics.com/ in New London CT is a great store! I worked there for 4 years back at the beginning of the decade.

    I don't know if that's anywhere near you, but it's a nice half way between New York and Boston. And if you are in the area you should also check out the Book Barn - http://www.bookbarnniantic.com/ It'll be worth your time!

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  4. I'm always amazed that there are FOUR rpg game stores in my area (Eugene, Oregon, pop. apx. 150,000). One of those is half comic store, another seems mostly focused on Magic the Gathering and Minis. This is a big university town though...

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  5. Try this;
    The Grid Games
    52 Purnell Place
    Manchester, CT, 06040
    (860) 645-9006

    That is just one... I'll bet there are more, I just hit up Steve Jackson's Games Store and Gamer finder.

    Game stores tend to hide in the oddest places.

    In general Gamers are creatures of the 'burbs. But mind you I live in the SF Bay region and 'burbs is mostly what we have.

    Though a decade ago I lived in Northern Nevada, and in the Reno/Sparks and Carson City area there where 5 retail store where gaming was a major part of their income.

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  6. In addition to the SJGames store finder, try the Master List: http://the-master-list.com/

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