Something popped up on my Twitter feed today that caused me a moment of pause. It was a vlog from an in-store TCG tournament somewhere in Florida. I’m not going to name the game, or the store. First, I don’t want to give them any shine for running an in-store event in the middle of a pandemic (I hope we’re not only in the middle of this thing) in a state that has handled this pandemic about as poorly as possible. But I also don’t want to publicly shame them. Because store owners are caught between a rock and a hard place of needing to be civic minded and not be a ground zero for a diagnosis bloom, but they also have to make payroll, pay their rent and put food on their own tables. It’s an unenviable position that many Americans have been stuck in since the spring sprung.
Regardless of the financial position, I believe that it is incredibly unwise to host an in-person, in-store event (particularly one where mask and protective equipment use was cavalier, at best). I’m disappointed that we are still in a position where we can’t safely host in-person events.
The players who have been around Plague League for a while have heard this story probably a half dozen times. But to get it on the “official record”, when I started Plague League, I wanted to bring the Star City Games or Nerd Rage Gaming model of hosting high quality, very competitive TCG tournaments to an online setting. But the first handful of players changed that motivation. I saw Doug, Nate, Brennan, Mooch, Jonah and more, all hanging out, building friendships via the Discord server over our mutual love of this hobby of playing card games. And as the pandemic was then reaching it’s third month, I realized that it was a community that was needed more than a tournament series (although, Drayton and the POG team have put together what looks like a great PTCGO series launching in September).
I shifted my focus to encouraging community, and trying to foster that feeling of hanging out at the local game shop and just kickin’ around the table with people. Maybe we’re not hitting tournament numbers like Dryaton or Hegster or Hoogland. But the players who drop in and stick around have really been encouraging to me. I’ve gotten a few DM’s from players saying that Plague League was exactly what they were looking for.
Now that is our critical mission: to provide a community for players who need a community. Whether it’s because their LGS is still under no-gathering orders, or they’re immuno-compromised and can’t participate in person, or they don’t have a game shop near them. Whatever the reason, Plague League has started to fill that void for players.
I know that’s a big part of what makes an “LGS”, your “FLGS”. The game shop community is a big part of what keeps game shops afloat.
If you follow the Plague League Twitter, you may have seen a thread where I offer to help LGS‘. And here’s how I hope to do that.
If you’re local game shop needs a way to continue to support their player base, we can accommodate that. We can provide space on the Discord for your shop & your players. We can also support a store’s transition to hosting in-store events online. We can coach shop owners who need help running an event via MTGMelee, Challonge, Battlefy, or whatever, and free up some space on our Discord for the store.
I will not charge stores for this (if a store runs a buy-in event, we may take a small piece of that), but stores are struggling, and I feel it would be morally wrong to charge them a service fee to help them make rent.
Plague League is sitting in a unique position in my life, where it is absolutely a passion project that I enjoy developing and working on, and I also believe that we can hit an inflection point where it does turn into a business that allows me to focus on building the community and our events at a professional level. But, to quote an overquoted quote that I saw someone quote, “with great power comes great responsibility“. That responsibility to me is to contribute more to the gaming community than I take. I want to be a good steward of the gaming community.
So, tl;dr: if you own or know of a game shop that needs help staying connected to their players, put them in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to help.