Nottingham is no stranger to the tabletop gaming industry and Geek culture with all it entails, we have seen the likes of Games Workshop, Forbidden Planet, Alt and Dicecup rise and sometimes fall. However it looks like we will
be seeing the latest in poplar trend towards gaming Cafes with the announcement of a Geek Retreat store soon to be opened in Nottingham.
For those who don’t follow popular trends or have missed out on the often miss abused idea that being a geek is something to hide, as those kids who read comic books and played games have grown up and realised there is a business and a business model in their hobby, so why not franchise it. And with thriving and expanding universities and colleges within the city, Nottingham has a ready market for trade, and a long history of being the ‘Lead Belt’ with regards Tabletop gaming, and so it’s obvious it ticks all the right boxes for a Geek Retreat Franchise, yet like anything it’s about Location, location, location.
I think board games in general are making a resurgence due to people being overly saturated within electronics most of their waking lives. It’s a great way to just unplug.
Nottingham Board & Wargames Club Member
We have also seen a massive cultural shift towards the traditional Geeky with superhero movies consistently becoming the highest grossing films in the world. The video games industry is a mult ibillion pound industry and Kickstarter has brought to the fore the popularity and revenue of Board games.
With the very loud purple and yellow logo and shopfront. You will if nothing else not miss the place as you pass by, but on entering you’ll find not just another comic or games store, but a popular and trending gaming cafe filled with a focus on gaming and a gaming space and not merchandising as its whole. A place that pushes open gaming and a cafe culture.
This is where people come to hang out and play trading card games, either on their own initiative or in store organised competitions. Geek Retreat also provides a cafe as well, helping to push its Gaming cafe ethos obviously, catering to the high level of drinks, cooked hand foods and snacks that gamers will work through as they spend 6 to 8 hours playing games.
The products Geek Retreat sell are becoming more popular, and the whole geek culture industry has seen an amazing 19 – 22% growth pattern over the past few years (bucking a lot of local retail trends) , which has also be seen with local Games Workshops recent rise.
Geek Retreat sells the types of products that are made to be played with and enjoyed, both as a social and competitive nature, discussed and treasured. They are also offering a place where people can come and game and be safe sharing these experiences.
So 2018 saw the disaster of collapsing retailers with many sinking into administration. With other brands and local start ups all considering a wave of shutdowns. And as we are seeing the troubles are a reflection of a change in culture towards enjoying experiences rather than buying products. We are seeing people trying to make the most of their time doing something with family or friends and if you are going to have an amazing time doing something you can put on Instagram, or FB. Yet shopping this comes with a double edged blade, as gamers are like a lot of savvy shoppers quite cerebral and can quickly workout that the cost of a days gaming at a Boardgame Cafe while fun, could have the costs cut by half if they go shopping online, get it same day or next day and play with friends at home. And while gamers are part of the same community, their goals and needs are different. Recently seen with the closure of the local Flag Store Chimera, as they migrate to online sales. This environment then obviously sets the stage for competitive or specialist groups to adopt a mindset that is more “us vs. them” rather than “us as a whole.” The functioning gaming groups then stop communicating politely or otherwise with each other and that’s when things start to go tribal.
However as the franchise pack says Geek Retreat ethos is built around the idea of ‘community’. It’s about people coming together in a dedicated space to share their hobbies and interests with like-minded others. Obviously, community is absolutely at their core. With a ready market and stores in several cities they have put the ground work into a successful brand and dedicated community of customers over the past three years adding value to those core relationships. Geek Retreat marks itself as a champion of the geek community and caters its products and events to those in demand from its regular customers, so time will tell on the Boardgame Cafe culture and if Nottingham’s abundance of gaming venues and cafes can all play nice.