Kristine Chester, Fanboy Comics Senior Contributor: GameHaus is poised to be southern California's first board game café. How does a board game café work, and why is this a must-have venue for SoCal?
Terry Chiu: At a board game café, the customers pay a cover fee which gives them access to hundreds of different board games in stock. They can play what they want for as long as they want, and, in addition to that, they can order food and drink from the café to enjoy while they’re playing. It’s sort of a combination of a café and a game library/store, all under one roof.
Robert Cron: Though we’re a bit spread out, there are hundreds and hundreds of board game enthusiasts in the Los Angeles area – in addition to that, there are lots of people who might not be board gamers or know much about the hobby, but would be interested in such a unique venue as ours. We’re not running a regular run-of-the-mill Starbucks here – we’re giving people a great venue in which to share good food and drink while enjoying board and card games. We want to create a fun experience for everyone who comes to GameHaus, no matter what their gaming tastes may be.
KC: There are a lot of different tastes out there, so can you tell us a little bit more about what sorts of games will be available? What about food and drinks?
RC: We want to appeal to all sorts of board gamers – if your thing is party or trivia games, then you’ll have access to titles like Cranium and lighter fare like that; if you want familiar family favorites that you remember from childhood and want to relive with your kids or your friends, we’ll have titles like Mousetrap, Sorry, and Clue; if you like Euro and strategy games that have recently become popular, we’ll have titles like Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan; if you like those thematic “Ameritrash” games, there will be titles like Last Night on Earth and Arkham Horror. We want to appeal to as many different game tastes as possible, especially those who might be new to the hobby or who might want to try out games that they’re interested in but haven’t played yet. And, who knows, we hope to convert some non-gamers to rabid gaming fans.
TC: As far as food and drink, pie is a big part of the menu – fruit pies, ice box pies, pot pies. Plus, we’ll have standard coffeehouse fare – sandwiches, salads, scones, muffins, cookies. We’re also partnering with Tasteful Cakes in Corona, who will also be supplying us with a bevy of assorted sweet delicacies. And, if we can get it, we’re planning on getting a Type 41 liquor license, so we can serve beer and wine.
KC: What are some of your Kickstarter pledge levels and rewards?
TC: For the $50.00 level, you get our logo tote bag and our logo tee shirt, in addition to our gratitude and credit on our website for helping to make GameHaus happen. If you pledge as high as $150.00, you get those goodies and a bunch more, plus you get the opportunity to “sponsor” games – if your favorite game is Pandemic, you can make a pledge at that level, and we’ll be sure to have that title on the shelves and specially credited to you on the box.
RC: It’s sort of like when you go to the theater and see that the seat you’re sitting in has a little plaque that says it’s been sponsored by Doris P. Wodehouse; we find that lots of people wanted to be a part of the café in some way, so we wanted a pledge level where the participants had some influence on what makes it onto the shelves.
KC: What are some of your stretch goals?
RC: We've come up with a few things for the stretch goals - we didn't want to increase the amount of logo-related 'swag,' so we decided that they should be incentives that are tied in to the experience of eating, drinking, and playing at GameHaus. So, there are ways to earn free slices of pie, and free cover charge fees for the day, that sort of thing.
TC: At the $15K goal, which is double our initial goal, there are longer term incentives, like month-long membership passes for certain pledge tiers - it's something we're strongly thinking of implementing once we're up and running. If you pledge at a certain level, those memberships will waive or comp the cover charge, so if you had one you could go to GameHaus as many times as you wanted for that month, or as long as the membership pass was good. This sort of reward is one of those great incentives for die-hard gamers, especially ones that want to have a great environment in which to game.
RC: We can't tell you how many people have asked us if there will be memberships like this - we've had people tell us that they expect to be practically living at our location they'll be there so often. They're that excited about what we're doing, so we hope to live up to their expectations. A friend of ours said that we should be the “Cheers” for gamers in the Los Angeles area.
KC: I already want to hang out there and play board games all day! How long will we have to wait to check out GameHaus for ourselves and where will it be located?
RC: There’s been a lot of planning and due diligence needed to get this project up and running, and we’re hopefully over a couple of the big hurdles very soon with our city and county plan checks and permitting. Once everything has been signed off on by the necessary agencies, we can finally proceed with the buildout – we’ll finally be able to swing some hammers and see some sawdust on the floor! We expect that will take several weeks, so we’re aiming at a late summer opening.
TC: We’ll be located at the edge of southern Glendale near the border to Atwater Village and Silverlake, known locally as the Tropico District. We’re in a great historic building, the former Seeley Furniture Company building, which has been converted to creative office spaces, live/work lofts, and retail, and our space has great old brick walls and old industrial details that really make it exceptional.
KC: We at Fanboy Comics love to geek out about our favorite things, so I have to ask, what are some of your favorite board games at the moment?
TC: A couple of games in the zombie genre come to mind --- two games that have revitalized horror board gaming which are Zombicide and Zpocalypse. Zombicide is very intense, the board game equivalent of survival horror and it really feels like you and your teammates are in a zombie movie. Zpocalypse I’ve only observed being played, but it seems like it’s a very immersive experience and takes horror board gaming to another level because a lot of care was taken to create the post-zombie apocalypse world in the game. Also Alderac has come out with a series of games called Love Letter, Dominare, Courtier, and Mercante and they’re all based around a very cool idea. The company came up with a storyline and characters set in a Renaissance-era world called Tempest, and they commissioned different game designers to create a diverse line of games based on the same narrative. All the games are different, but they share a thematic thread.
RC: I recently had the opportunity to try Acquire – a friend had one of the old bookshelf game copies of it at a gaming event, and something about it just really got me going. It’s a financial game where you’re investing in different hotel chains – as the game progresses, some of them get bought out or “absorbed” by bigger chains, depending on their sizes and locations on the board, so it’s all about timing and money management and positional strategy; I can see why it’s been popular for decades and has been reprinted numerous times by different companies. And, for the past year, I’ve been a big fan of Virgin Queen, which is a big epic historical strategy game, mixing diplomacy, war, and negotiation during the time of Elizabeth I. It takes hours and hours to play, but I couldn’t imagine being bored by it for one second.
KC: What else do readers need to know about GameHaus, and where can they go to find out more information and keep track of its progress?
RC: We’ve been keeping an active blog of the progress ever since our lease signing, and you can find that at www.gamehauscafe.wordpress.com. Also, we’re keeping fairly active on Facebook, and you can find us at www.facebook.com/gamehauscafe. The website is still being worked on – it’s at www.gamehauscafe.com – but we’ll have more information there soon; right now it has the link to the Kickstarter project, too. The Kickstarter itself is www.kickstarter.com/projects/313633645/gamehaus-board-game-cafe.
TC: We’re planning on being open six days a week, and at least as late as midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. We’re really excited about giving enthusiasts and new players a creative, hip, fun space in which to enjoy great food and drink over great games.