The year was 1993, I was just returned to town, 26 years old and living in my mothers basement (how cliched was that?) My grand (and poorly thought out and executed) plan of turning my new Masters degree into a teaching career was clearly failing. I was lonely, depressed and didn’t have a lot of things to do. I knew one thing I wanted to do: join a role playing group, but didn’t know how to start, since all of my high school friends were gone.
So I wandered into the local game store, The Compleat Gamer, and after hanging out a while I gradually made friends with the owner, Ty. After inquiring if he knew anyone who might have a game group I might join he referred me to one of his employees, Forrest. I introduced myself to Forrest and the rest, as they say, is history.
The store became my home away from home. It was my equivalent of the local tavern. It was the proverbial ‘place where everyone knows your name’. If I go through my address book and/or Facebook friends I would say that probably 25% of the people there I met through the store.
When I met Kim one of the first places I took her, and groups of people I introduced her to was the group at the store. On some level the mutual approval was just as important as meeting my family.
When I left for North Carolina I found another store and community there, but the group was a pale shadow of what I had here. And when I returned the store was one of the very first places I went after getting home.
I couldn’t count how many hard earned dollars were spent there, or the number of hours I spent, just hanging out. Volunteering to help out when needed with customers, sweeping, cleaning and demonstrating games. Using the store for after hours games. Making the store a first stop on our weekly game night at the nearby community gathering place.
I learned to play virtually all of my favorite games there. From Role playing games like Deadlands and Savage Shadows, board games like Settlers of Catan, card games like Magic the Gathering, and table top miniature games like Warhammer, Warhammer 40K and Warzone. Sure I can and do play these games elsewhere, but learning those games there will always hold a special part in my memories.
I knew the store had fallen on difficult times in recent years. So it wasn’t a complete surprise when I saw this article in the newspaper today:
It’s game over for Compleat Games & Hobbies after more than 20 years as a downtown Colorado Springs business.
But it is still quite stunning. My first thought was of my friend Carl, who works there and whom I can say I have been buying gaming supplies from almost since I was able to hand money over the counter (originally at another old downtown fixture: Levines toy store). I hope that he will get picked up at another store. But after that the rest of my thoughts were about all of the memories. I know, as a rational person, that nothing lasts forever. But it is still a blow when a big piece of your life goes away like this.
So, I will do my best to gather as many of my friends at the store on Saturday, and wish Ty a fond farewell. And concentrate on the good times and great memories that place provided us. It might get a little dusty, I will try to take lots of pictures for posterity sake.