Support Local Game Stores

If you haven’t guessed it from my previous posts, I’m a fan of all types of games: roll playing, card, board style, complex, simple, gross, or pretty. No matter what, chances are I’ll play it at least once. Video games are the exception because the motions often bother me.Game time clipart

So today I’m giving a shout-out to my local Northwest Indiana stores and gaming cafes. One does not have to be a deep level D&Der or Magic fanatic to enjoy wandering into these locally owned shops. They stock all kinds of wonderful games and gifts. Want your preteen or teenage kids to have some social time away from the glowing screen? Take them to a game store. In addition, these places are great for date nights because they allow you to talk with your partner rather than stare silently at a big screen. Nothing against movies, but game places lead to actual conversing and fun. If your date gets cranky or is a poor loser, best to find that out early.

Many game stores serve drinks and snacks as well so you can have hours of fun. They are family oriented, and games encourage critical thinking, reading skills, tactical analysis, math skills, and in some cases, language skills. Plus, they allow you to give your child the best gift ever, some of your focused time.

My favorite part is that game stores allow you to “try before you buy”, which beats most toy stores any day. Nothing is worse than being stuck with a game that doesn’t work for couples when you only have two players or is just boring. For instance, Oh My God! There’s an axe in my Head looked fun and a little twisted, usually the way I like them. Games Inn had it available for testing so we checked it out. Turns out this Stratego-style board game was dull. It either did not work for couples (despite the box’s advertisement) or just didn’t work for us. Either way, I’m glad I found out before shelling out around $20 for it.Magic game symbols

However, if game stores and gaming cafes are to survive in this order-online world, they must sell games. The coffees, snacks, and playing fees may help but moving their products is what keeps them in business. Most metropolitan areas have at least one or more of these stores. For those in the Northwest Indiana area, here is at least a partial list of the shops (in no special order) that I know about and would encourage you to check out. You’ll certainly find something for that special “nerd” in your life.

Games Inn: This Hobart, IN store features a very large open area for gaming, a few tables specifically set up for Warhammer, large café, and huge choice of trial games.

The Librarium Café: It is also located in the Hobart downtown area. This coffee house offers an intimate place for gaming and enjoying fine bakery products. They offer a small variety of games for sale and 100 games to try.

The Tenth Planet: Located on Hwy 30 in Schererville, IN, this store features a wide array of comic books, movie and comic collectables, and games. They sponsor Friday Night Magic tournaments. They also stock some unusual games that come from more international developers.

Galactic Greg’s has been a  Valparaiso, IN icon for 25 years. It features comic books and also has a section for playing Magic, Pokemon, HeroClix, and Star Wars X-wing. Because many of these games use miniatures, the store also has a nice miniature collection.

I have not visited these places yet but found them on a Google search.

Gotta Have It Games &Collectibles in Lake Station, IN. According to their website, they feature a number of collectible and trading cards, actions figures, and vinyl records. They also have live game playing table times that can be reserved for groups.

Heroes Haven in Michigan City, IN. Their Facebook states that they sell comic books, graphic novels, action figures, and play specifically Magic, HeroClix, Warhammer and more.

By the Board Games & Entertainment in Lowell, Indiana. They have special rooms for Friday Night Magic, D&D, and board games. The website also says they offer vintage and used games and extra pieces.

World Building Basics

Whenever a writer creates a story, no matter if it is romance, thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, or even historical nonfiction, they engage in world building. For some genres, the world is 80% to 90% already fixed in place. After all, if the author produces a thriller about an out-of-control president trying to become dictator in 2017 America, most of the “world” is already known and accepted by the readers. The writer doesn’t worry about what the outer buildings look like, how the city/state/country operates, or even what currency is used.

However, the author still must build a “world” in terms of the president’s inner sanctum, his personal taste in clothing, his support people, and what objects, rooms, or architectures have deeper meaning in this novel. For instance, does the White House really have a Kennedy Rumpus Room (as in Mars Attacks) or a secret tunnel for sneaking out? I love watching the old show, West Wing, but figure the workrooms of the White House probably don’t really look like the show’s depiction, which were created for easy filming.

indoor fairy house side view

World building on a small craft scale. My fairy garden.

The world-building phenomenon doesn’t stop with the written word. Any avid role-playing gamer, video game developer, or even architect understands the importance of planning the big picture and the many details that go into a given place and time.

Incredulity in the Setting

Of course, the farther the story stretches away from reality and the here-and-now, the more the author must create the setting. Historical texts, science fiction, and fantasy all must include a clear and defined world that not only engages the reader but also makes sense. Sometimes making sense is the hardest part.

Readers and TV/movie viewers all have a disbelief point (called my bullshit line) where they inherently know something in a setting doesn’t work. For instance, using poultry for financial exchanges may work in a fantasy novel, but trading chickens for ship parts looks stupid in science fiction. Plus, carrying baby chicks around in space suits while experiencing zero-g is difficult and silly. The movie, Life, (reviewed in a previous blog) is a great example of crossing the bullshit line.

Common Rules of World Building

The disbelief point comes from breaking concrete rules of all worlds. Bypass those rules and the story becomes stupid/silly/terrible very quickly. Here are a few overarching principles that should never be crossed or ignored.

Science

Science is true and usually unbreakable everywhere and every when. Therefore, living things should die/freeze in space, people can’t fly without assistance, and bullets, gasoline, poisons, and magic should all work in predictable ways. This includes NOT standing near a pool of gasoline and igniting a match unless you want to lose all your body hair. The vapor is more ignitable than the pool.

Common Sense

People must wear clothes that make sense. Going around naked causes sunburns. Wearing diaphanous material in a winter wonderland is dumb even indoors. Heating costs and buildings always leak. People must also eat food and drink water daily, so going for days without any sustenance should create horrible effects.

Magic

Magic must make sense for the situation. It should have an effort cost and not act like a gun with a never-ending supply of bullets (a fault of many television shows). Don’t use it for the answer to everything. Magic should also follow scientific principles. For instance, if you put a cream pie into a “bag of constant falling,” you will decapitate yourself (or someone else) when you open the bag again since the cream pie is going at a tremendous speed. This idea came from a Dungeons and Dragons adventure with physicists (fun folks who like to get creative with their weaponry).

High Tech

Although I agree with the idea that high tech advancements become indistinguishable from magic to a primitive race, high tech must also make sense. One machine doesn’t do it all. Personally, I don’t believe in the machine-turns-to-god idea. High tech should also have a cost for using it and a possibility of breakdown.

Consistency of the Story

Any established rule of the story’s world must not be broken later, at least not without a tremendous cost. If an angry mob storms the palace because of a class system of cruelty and poverty, one man giving a speech isn’t going to stop the bloodshed. Stopping to sleep in ancient ruins should include nasty things like bugs, snakes, or mice in the overgrown areas. They don’t have to attack the characters, but the place isn’t going to be a pristine wonderland either.

Conclusion

This blog only represents the highlights of a deep and complex part of writing great stories. World building is both fascinating and daunting in its depths but critically important in that the writer must understand of the grand ideas and minutiae details of his or her world. In the coming weeks, I’ll post a number of blogs on world-building specifics along with some thoughts based on my own novels. Please feel free to add your input, ideas, or stories of the complexities of your worlds.