Harassment, gaming and online purchasing behaviour

Recently, the discussion on harassment for women in tabletop gaming has been making the rounds. Unfortunately, it’s not a new feature but it is getting more press, mostly because I think of the larger number of female players, the Internet and (hopefully) changing mores.

The entire situation is something that isn’t particularly surprising.  I run an online business and the vast majority of my gaming is with close friends who aren’t likely to take crap like that so for the most part I’m shielded from encountering incidents like this.  While I do do conventions, I also work them – so I rarely see any major incidences as my head is down, working sales and chatting with customers.

Yet, even though I rarely see incidences like this, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen any at all.  I can recall at least 2 instances where we’ve had to deal with too persistent men by redirecting them away from the inflicted young lady.  I can recall instances in game stores where things said or done might make a woman uncomfortable in game stores.  And let’s not forget the sheer variety of comments on our Youtube video channel. We’ve had everything from purely crude to the subtler, ever-present discussion about hair styles.  So yeah, it’s not surprising that we have a problem (even if I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word terrorist).

One thing that was written in the article that started it all jumps out to me:

Gamers bemoan the loss of the local game store while ignoring their culpability for its demise. Amazon is blamed for the death of local game stores, but few gamers stop to question why so many people are choosing to buy social games in such an asocial manner.


In 2014, when I can’t run games anymore, they (the women in her gaming group) splinter off into several different groups. They buy everything online and never set foot in game stores. They’ve learned the hard lessons.

From my experience viewing the customer base at both game stores and at conventions, I can certainly say that this feels true.  I don’t know how many of these female customers purchase from us because of convenience or price and how much it’s because of the anonymity online purchasing offers, but I can say for sure that the number of women customers at Starlit Citadel’s higher than you’d expect.

I guess the point of this post is, yes; this is real. This is happening.  I don’t have stats on it, I have only anecdotal evidence; but this kind of harassment and sexism is more prevalent than some people think.

Edit: One thing that has come to mind that we need to add (see below too on the comments) is that the board gaming community specifically is significantly better than the general tabletop community.  In fact, board gamers in general seem to be more socially adjusted than most – whether it’s because many of us are older (than say CCG players) or it’s a very social gaming experience.

An old-timer perspective

I wonder how those who have been in this industry for 20 / 30 years feel sometimes? I know in the last 8 years, the changes that we’ve seen have been immense ourselves.  More direct competition from retailers, more direct competition from publishers and distributors.

We’ve started seeing more and more publishers selling direct – whether on Kickstarter or via Amazon or their own online stores.  It’s pretty much a given that if a game goes through Kickstarter, it is not going to do that well for us.  Sure, we might sell a copy or two if we’re lucky but the vast majority of products that come through Kickstarter are dead-on-arrival.  (As an aside, the various Kickstarter publishers who spam us about their product and supporting their Kickstarter – you’re just annoying me).  Publishers who are on Kickstarter and seriously discount their product are just another competitor, sometimes the worst kind because where a retailer has a ‘floor’ in terms of the product cost (generally about 50% of the product price), a publisher’s floor is often significantly lower (about 80% of product price).  That means they can (and in some cases, have) sold product below the cost that we can acquire the game at.  No surprise that publishers who do that  are added to a list of publisher products that we will stock significantly less of.

Anyway, it’s just interesting to see how the industry has both grown significantly and how many new players have come on-board and how many have left.  New retailers pop-up every few months now it seems all across Canada, jumping on the giant cash bandwagon that they envision the industry is.  And there’s no doubt that the industry has grown. At the same time, other; older retailers have dropped out of contention – whether because they’ve never been able to make money (and have been eating losses for a while) or just that their margins have become so tight, it’s time to move on.

In addition, new formats for gaming have sprung up – gaming cafes and gaming bars are everywhere it seems. There’s no guarantee these guys will last, but a few seem to have become breakout successes like Mox Boarding House or Snakes & Lattes or the Stormcrow in Vancouver.

On top of that, we’ve now grown to a point where Youtube reviewers who are paid to do reviews are viable.  There’s our very own sponsored reviews of course, but there’s also others like Shut Up & Sit Down or Rahdo or the Dice Tower.  The options keep on increasing, and the quality and options seem to be expanding at a very decent rate.

Lastly, talking about communication – we’ve got even more avenues for getting information than ever.  There are a slew of gaming sites and reviews, though BGG continues to be the main website.

All these changes and more, all in 8 years. I wonder how others feel about it?

Convention Attendance 2015

I figured we’d post our convention list for this year. Come visit us if you are there:

February 27 – March 1, 2015 – GottaCon Gaming Convention, Victoria, BC

March 14 – 15, 2015 – Terminal City Tabletop Convention, Vancouver, BC

October 2 – 4, 2015 – VCon Science Fiction & Gaming Convention, Vancouver, BC

October 16 – 18, 2015 – Fallcon, Calgary, AB

We’re look forward to seeing you at one of these conventions and playing some board games with you.

Board Game Review : Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories coverGhost Stories  has players as Taoist Monks attempting to banish ghosts from the village.  To win, they’ll have to banish Wu Feng the Lord of the Nine Hells before they themselves are defeated or the village overrun.  Ghost Stories is a tough, complex co-operative game that requires a lot of co-operation and planning to win and isn’t meant for casual gamers or those easily frustrated.

Appearance: I have to say, I love the design and images used.  It’s a touch cartoony; but there are a ton of images on all the ghost cards and village tiles which are well done and add immensely to the theme.

Stock card and miniatures are well done; though the Haunting figures might be a touch too large.  Otherwise, the design is well done with easy to read information transmitted mostly via icons and the rulebook(s) are well laid out to teach the rules quickly.

  Rules / Ease of Learning: The rules of the game are quite well laid out in the rulebook and the game is relatively simple in execution.  Each turn is broken into 2 phases, the Yin and Yang phases which constitute the ghost and monk phase.

In the Yin phase, any ghost effects such as Haunting or the Cursed die take effect before a new ghost is pulled.  If the current player’s board is filled with ghosts already; he does not pull another ghost but instead loses a Qi (life) point.   Ghosts are allocated to each player’s board according to their respective colours, with the black ghost allocated to the current player’s board.  In addition; any effects the ghost has when it comes into play are immediately put into effect.  All this information is shown on the ghost card in simple, easy to read iconography.

In the Yang phase, the player can move 1 space if he wishes.  He may then either ask for help from the Villager on his tile or attempt an exorcism at an adjacent location.  Exorcisms are conducted by rolling the dice and matching the ghosts resistance with the die results.  Any Tao tokens of the appropriate colour may be substituted for a success; and if the player is at a corner location he may attempt to exorcise both ghosts at once with his successes.

In addition; each monk has a special ability that can be used on their turn.  The boards for the monk’s are double-sided; with each side having a variation on the monk’s special ability.  As such; players have to decide on which ability they will be using that game.

Additionally; players get a Yin-Yang token that gives them the ability to use a villager’s ability or flip a haunted tile over at the start of the game.  In 2 or 3 player games, players also get a neutral token that allows them access to the un-played Monks’ special ability(s).

As mentioned, the Village tiles each represent a villager who can aid the Monk’s.  Their aid can range from flipping over a haunted tile to providing Tao tokens, healing for the monks or a Buddha token.

To win Ghost Stories, players have to defeat Wu-Feng.  However, if players all die, run the deck out or have a number of tiles (ranging from 3 to 4) haunted; they lose the game.

Gameplay: Most of Ghost Stories revolves around planning the use of the monk’s and village tile abilities.  Making sure to use the Buddha(s), the Circle of Prayers and the other village tiles as well as the Monk’s special abilities to banish the ghost is extremely important.  Players will have to work closely together to plan out their actions, often 3 to 4 turns ahead to ensure that they win.

One of the major problems with most co-operative games is the ‘alpha’ gamer phenomena where a single player takes over the planning of character actions.  In my experience with Ghost Stories, the best course of action is either blindingly obvious to everyone involved (and already agreed upon) or is a toss-up such that there’s no single right decision.  This makes everyone’s input important; and can sometimes lead to even better moves.

On the other hand, due to the random nature of the ghost card draws as well as the die-rolls for exorcism; Ghost Stories can be more random than many people can enjoy.  It’s quite possible to go from a perfectly controlled situation with 3 ghost present to having 7 ghost on the board, with a die removed and no Tao tokens able to be used all in 2 turns.   The random nature of the game can sometimes put players in a completely un-winnable situation (or make the game seem too simple as everything falls their way) and it can happen very fast.

Conclusion: Overall, I like Ghost Stories.   It has a ton of theme unlike Pandemic and it’s much shorter than Arkham Horror.  There’s a lot of decisions to make and because it’s shorter; it never feels like you’ve wasted a lot of time playing a game that you were never going to win.



Gaming for Diabetes : May 1, 2010

We wanted to let you know about an event that will be held soon:

Gaming for Diabetes

Date & Time: May 1, 2010 (10am to Midnight) and May 2, 2010 (10am – 6pm)

Venue: The Royal City Curling Club; 75 E 16th Ave, New Westminster

Last year there were about 40 – 50 people who attended.  It’s a board gaming event – with everyone bringing their own games and then placing them out for peple to play / use.    As such, there’s a wide variety of board games for everyone.

Also, there’s always a 50/50 draw and a Silent Auction which holds quite a few good, fun games.

It’s also relatively cheap and for a good cause – $20 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday or $30 for the weekend.

If you’re going, make sure to say Hi! I’ll be there for certain on Saturday and quite possibly Sunday.