Gone are the days when marathon games of Dungeons and Dragons were banished to a dingy back room or basement lit by a bare bulb. The times when Warhammer was considered niche and Pokémon an 8-bit role-playing game with a tinny soundtrack are no longer.
These days, board games and their epic fantasy worlds are mainstream, bursting into film and video games and reaching wider audiences than ever before. And the business itself is not measured in packs of trading cards sold, but in billions of pounds.
Set to ride the crest of anarmour-clad wave showing little sign of breaking anytime soon, Rogue Games is a board game and hobby store based on Hastings Road in Leyland. Opened in May by long-term board game aficionado Bryan Clapham, the shop stocks a large range of the latest and classic board games, miniatures, collectable card games, and RPGs.
“Everybody's into board games now,” said Bryan (31), who comes from Accrington but who lives in Leyland. "It's a market that has exploded in the last five years or so and it's gone from a few geeks playing D&D in their bedroom to being quite a mainstream hobby almost rivalling video games.”
And that passion is something which RG is looking to harness to make it more than just your regular store.
A veritable Rivendell of fantasy-themed delights, the shop also features a refurbished gaming centre where people can meet and play their favourite games for free with mates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, offering a place where people can socialise over a few games.
"It's always had a passionate community; even though it's been quite niche, there's always been a vibrant and diverse community of millions of players around the world,” Bryan said. It's been good so far - we've had a lot of interest in the local area [and] we’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and positivity from the gaming community in Lancashire.”
Huddersfield-born retail assistant Aidan Tyas (21) has worked at the store since it opened and says that such is the strong sense of community engendered by those who come to RG, working there rarely feels like a job.
"It's great to talk to people about the products; it's quite a nerdy shop so it's lovely to engage with people and have a chat,” Aidan explained. “We all have similar stuff in common, and with the cross-pollination of people who have always been into board games and people who are new to it it's quite nice.
"It's a two-way thing: we get to meet all these lovely people and - because these hobbies can sometimes be quite introverting - they get to come hang out with people interested in similar stuff,” added Aidan. “It's all about creating an atmosphere where people can chill."
With his self-professed mission being to bring board games to the masses, Bryan says that no two days working in the shop are quite alike. "It’s really varied,” he said. “We get lots of different people - gaming attracts people of all ages, men and women, people of all shapes and sizes. It's for everybody, and that's great.
"Creating a community hub was always a big part of it, giving people a space which has a good atmosphere where they can make new friends,” added Bryan, who says the store’s USP is its inclusive nature. “Anybody, whether they've been gaming for 20 years or never played a board game before, can come in and enjoy it.”
And that outlook makes for a pretty interesting day’s work for the RG staff as well.
“Some of the customers know way more than I do [about board games]; they’re so knowledgeable,” said Bryan. "Everybody's really passionate and just wants to chat about the stuff that they love, which is great for me because I love it all as well.”