Any geeks or gamers in the crowd? Sure there are! Pull back from the expensive LED mechanical keyboard, stack the dice and roll for initiative: the bastion of the North has wares for sale and stories to tell! Groningen is rich with table-top accessories, retro game shops, and miniatures.
The stigma of gamer culture has been over ever since the gate-keepers of Gamergate in 2014. The internet is fighting and standing up for gamer equity. A gamer is running for US president!
Group strategy storytelling games like D&D and Warhammer have become synonymous with making friends and telling amazing tales in distant fantasy worlds. Now, everyone who wants to create excellent relationships can do so through the power of imagination, strategic chess-like competition, comfort-food, and escapism. Let’s look into the underground culture of roleplaying and gaming in Groningen.
Tell me if you’ve experienced this. You’re cycling along Nieuwe Ebbingestraat on your way to university, and out of the corner of your eye, you see a beautiful Purple Dragon draped across a street store. From intrigue alone, it pulls you in and feeds your eyes with colorful dice, intricate board games and miniature fantasy creatures. You’re incredulous, because who doesn’t want to indulge in the fantastical, colorful imagery of dragons, heroes and adventure.
Purperen Draak (Purple Dragon) is a Dungeons & Dragons esque gaming store that dabbles in organizing their own game nights! Unfortunately for us internationals, the hosted games are mostly Dutch, but if you’ve ever looked for a chance to stumble across people who can teach you how to roleplay and practice improv, it’s a great place to make fresh new contacts, while browsing a bounty of beautiful guides, games, figurines and roleplay accessories.
Nedgame and Game Mania are two competing video game stores a five-minute walk north from Grote Markt. In the age of internet stores and online browsing libraries, it’s a rarity to find not one, but two stores that dabble exclusively in video game merchandise.
Nedgame, the self-described paradise for every gamer, includes games for every console. One of the most convenient properties of this game store is the ability to trade in used and finished games with new ones, receiving a discount for later purchases.
Game Mania, however, is a game in itself. Their purchase program allows you to earn coins, badges and receive discounts upon their free Game Mania XP sign-up. The store is connected to the internet culture of fellow gamers and frequently uploads related news articles, and competitions occurring in the Groningen online matrix of gaming.
For a more traditional experience, this small, cosy looking board game store is a unique experience, with shelves of competitive and co-operative table-top games, including a lovely, amicable staff that helps find exactly what you need.
Lost a few pieces from an old, favourite board game? They have that too – buying generic figurines that fit any board game is like walking into a candy shop and weighing the amount you need.
The Groningen Warhammer store is perhaps the most intense roleplaying endeavor. For those who aren’t aware, Warhammer is an intensive war-based tactical roleplaying game, including a monumental amount of accessories – terrain boards, paint, and a collection of beautiful lifelike military figurines. A full-on retailer of fantasy board games.
Right next to the UB, Warhammer is an investment, but a hobby hard to give away once you’re in. Again, this store, like many other roleplaying locations, has an interactive element to it. It brings about frequent game nights and events for people to join in, practice and have fun.
No matter who you are, gaming is a healthy exercise in hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, spacial sense and social interaction that pretty much everyone can enjoy. Try it out if you haven’t already!
Written by Jānis Lazda – PR&Graphics committee