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End of an era. Again. Dammit.

January 15, 2020

I’ve been going to the Wednesday night meetings of the Wycombe Games Club since 1976 when I was first exploring the peculiar hobby (role playing games) that I had just stumbled into. In those days it met in the upstairs hall at the British Legion and we role-gamers were only sort of tolerated by the figures wargamers who were the majority of the membership.

A fair proportion of my life has been tangled up in those Wednesday night meetings and a fair number of my friendships over the years. What events stick in my memory? The great ‘cardboard crack’ wars when MAGIC THE GATHERING was the subject of rage and dispute. The time the local paper popped round to ask if we were Satanists. The time the then President had to be asked to leave because his habit of beating people up had come to our attention. The time I got stuck in the lift and because it was my luck with a bald man with a pram and not a beautiful woman.

And many, many games, so many. All the adventures through time and space run by me (mostly) and others. All the memories.

We trailed all over town seeking affordable rooms we could hire to hold our meetings and they kept getting fewer. We ended up in the Guildhall in the High Street, rolling our dice and laughing our heads off under the stern gaze of St Paul preaching to the ancient Britons. (Illustrated)

And now, all of a sudden, when it looked as though I would die in harness as the Secretary and the Oldest Member, the number of tables of gamers who wanted to come and pay us £3 a head for somewhere to play on a midweek evening went from four or five, which meant we kept our heads above water and even built up a small reserve for lean times to two which means we’ll be wrapping the club up forever and giving our remaining funds to charity at the end of January.

Two tables didn’t even say goodbye but went and got themselves space at the new local games shop. Which is mostly big minatures in a semi-Games-Workhop way. I’m not sure it will be there for them in six months but the club can’t keep going long enough for it to fail.

One table left, slightly shamefaced, explaining that their GM had actually built an extension on their house to act as a gaming room and it was getting a little awkward dragging their infant daughter along to games… We said we quite understood.

So there it is. I’ll write a letter to the Council tomorrow and once we get the final bills that will be that.

My group’s games will go on, sometimes at my flat and sometimes at Martin’s place across the Rye, but dammit though it may be more comfortable (the heating in the Guildhall isn’t always reliable) it won’t be the same and we won’t pick up casual gamers or help keep the hobby going on into another generation.

Double dammit! I’m going to have to find someone else to leave my games collection to!

  1. Any pubs worth a try? I believe the Belle Vue, for example, is quite happy to have various groups using its back room.

    • I think the Belle Vue has enough space for maybe one table.

      And the difficulty of keeping the club going is that people nowadays have houses!

      When we started out in the 1970s we were young people (mostly) and looking for a place to go that wasn’t our parents’ place. Nowadays lots of us are older and our offspring (if any) have mostly moved out. Even the desperately young parents who brought their daughter to the club the first five or so years of her life can afford a purpose built games room.

  2. Tim Illingworth permalink

    So how about moving to the games shop? Maybe you’ll help it keep its head above water.

    • When we can move to a player’s house for free?

      • Well, you’ve got all the reasons raised in your blog post about why you want to keep meeting in a public place. And in my experience the expense of space in pubs and shops, as opposed to formal room rental, is trivial to zero.

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