[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Interview: Table For Two

I am in the business of selling games. I think that overall, it’s going pretty well. I talked about the general process of how games get from ideas and into your hands. Once a game is released through traditional means, it goes to distribution, where we decide to pick it up and put it on our shelf.

Once it is on my shelf, it is my job to know at least a little something about it so that I can help you decide if this game is right for you. There are plenty of tools out there to help me learn about games- GTM, my reps, buzz from customers, online reviews, and more.

But I know not every customer is going to take my word on a game. Many customers come in with ideas or questions based on a friend’s comment or something they read somewhere (usually internet). These customers will want a “second opinion” many times, and it really helps if I can give them somewhere to look.

I mentioned online reviews before- they’re either wonderful, or horrible. We primarily use online reviews to help sell board games. With BoardGameGeek being so incredibly popular, it would be stupid not to be familiar with the site and know generally what’s available and who’s saying what. Other options include sites like Drake’s Flames, who is pretty upfront about what he likes.

Just because a review is online doesn’t mean it’s good. There’s a dearth of ‘haters’ who really take pride in tearing up a game because it doesn’t meet some crazy unknowable standard- so picking through those is a chore.

One of our biggest challenges is helping couples who come into the store. It’s incredibly rewarding and exciting to see that gaming together is a growth industry; but finding games that couples can enjoy is often very tough. There really are only about 4 or 5 games that are exclusively aimed at two players, and knowing whether a game can be adapted and how it stacks up when you do so is a lot of work.

That’s where reviewers can come in handy. Many reviews talk about game play and even teach how to play; but Table For Two is about how games play for two players.

We’ve known Jane and Phil at least in passing for several years, but got to know them better at a recent convention. They are wonderfully nice people, with great warmth and wit. When they announced they were doing a YouTube show reviewing games, we had to check it out.  Their focus on games either for couples or how games will adapt to two players was definitely one I knew I had to check out in order to be better at my job. (Their Youtube channel is here )

And of course, I had to ask them about it in depth, because I’m incredibly curious (about everything!). I talked with Jane, who despite being a “road warrior” for her job, was gracious and very giving with her time. I found out that while they might seem smaller scale, they are travelling to Origins and GenCon and will have a booth at both, and their reach is growing every day.

When did you start doing T42? 

Jane: The first show premiered 9/7/2013! So we have been doing it for less than one year, but have almost 1800 likes on Facebook, so we think people are watching.

What made you decide to do the show? 

Jane: I want to be famous!! HA HA! No really….Phil and I have loved gaming since we have been together and really wanted to show people out there that even “couples who are a little older” can be cool gamers.

I love the focus on 2 players. What made you decide to focus your energy there?

Jane: We really did not see a lot of shows out there that were reviewing games from a two-player perspective and we felt we could fill that gap! Plus we don’t have any kids and wanted to show other couples out there that gaming is cool!

How do you come up with your themes?

Jane: Well, it is really based on the game we choose – some games are harder to do than others.  We are trying not to just make a “boring” review show but give people another reason to watch – whether they laugh at us or with us is good, as long as they watch.

How do you pick the games you review?

Jane: So far most of the games we have reviewed we have bought ourselves and just like any game we have bought in the past, we look to see if it is something we may enjoy AND of course that it can be played by 2 players.  Lately we are also making sure that the games we play are still available to buy. San Juan for example is no longer in print, although you can still get it.

Do companies provide them to you?

Jane: We have had quite a few companies send us their games, but also have had some Kickstarter games sent to us to look at. We only wish we had more time to review them all. However our “real” jobs get in the way too much.

What if you don’t review a game that’s provided? 

Jane: Well we may keep it for a future show, but we can’t guarantee that we will review everything that is sent to us. However, we also do an article in GTM magazine now, where we can also review more games.  Recently GTM asked to us to review a game we really did not care for so we chose not to do that one and will probably be giving that game away to a friend.

What are your thoughts on larger scale reviewers like Wil Wheaton and Tabletop?

Jane: If it is wasn’t for them, I don’t think we would have even thought to do this. Actually for me (Jane) I really love Felicia Day and that is how I found Tabletop originally where Phil actually followed Wil Wheaton before the show.  We wanted to make sure that we did not replicate that show however – we don’t play a full game on our show nor do we have any celebrities on our show…….but if a good looking celebrity wants to fill in for one of us I think we would accommodate them!

(I have a lot to say about Tabletop; but that’s a different post all together.- ‘Lo)

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