by Amy Daniels
Most people have at least one person in their family or circle of friends who has a strong connection to some aspect of “geek culture,” whether it’s comic books, a specific fandom (Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, etc.), Anime, Manga, or gaming (role play games, card games, miniature games, board games, etc.).
Blue Ox Games owner Harry Frank created a hub for all aspects of geek-dom. In addition to selling games, comics, and collectibles, Frank intentionally developed his business around “third place theory,” which says that the majority of people spend most of their time in three places: home, work/school, and a third “hang-out” place, which is often a bar, coffee shop, gym, or other casual, recreational space. Blue Ox Games is a home-away-from-home for geeks and gamers.
Gifts for Geeks
Gift shopping for the geek in your life can be challenging. The staff at Blue Ox Games is welcoming and helpful. When looking for a geek-gift, Frank advises that the first step in finding the perfect gift is knowing the person’s fandom. From there, the staff can guide a customer to a specific gift based on your knowledge of the person (If they are a Harry Potter fan, what House do they identify with? Do they have a favorite character? What was their favorite book/movie?), as well as that person’s tastes (would they appreciate a poster, a collectible figurine, or a themed game?).
When in doubt, give a gift certificate. Gifting a certificate to a specialty store that reflects the person’s interest is an easy to way to make a monetary gift more personal.
“It’s hard to shop for people who have particular tastes,” says Frank. “Give them something from a local place that they can use.” Frank is a strong supporter of small business and the
The Family that Games Together…
“Nowadays it’s hard for people to unplug,” says Frank, who grew up in a family that played a lot of games. “I think it’s one of the most important things we did as a family growing up because it allowed us to be ourselves, we formed our personalities around gaming.” The face-to-face aspect of gaming makes it a good point for bonding and developing relationships.
“I firmly believe that everyone is a gamer in some sort of way. It may be that you’re only a social gamer and you only play party games and things like that. There’s nothing wrong with that,” explains Frank. It comes down to finding a genre and style of game that suits one’s personality.
While many classic and mainstream family games are easily found in box stores, Blue Ox Games offers a broad selection of modern games for all ages and interests. As a locally owned and operated small business, Frank curates his offerings to his customers’ interests. Modern board games have the benefit of including all players throughout the entirety of the game.
“The modern board game doesn’t eliminate players like classic games,” Frank explains. Most classic games are played so that “the first person would go out and then the second. If you’re a family of four or five, and two people are out, what are they doing now? They’re not a part of the game. You want everyone to enjoy the whole process. That’s what modern board games do so well. Everyone plays the entire game and then you score at the end and everyone can play the whole time.”
The Pokémon Phenomenon
The 90’s T.V. show prompted the development of a trading card game which has remained popular among Pokémon fans ever since. Pokémon fans often become interested as children, and many grow to be collectors and participate in Pokémon leagues and tournaments. “Pokémon is a great multi-generational game,” says Frank, as it offers a great way for parents to connect with a child’s interests.
Blue Ox Games carries a variety of Pokémon items both for serious collectors and for more casual players.
“We host ‘learn to play’ events, where parents can come in and actually learn the game so they can play it with their kids,” says Frank.
Blue Ox Games holds a weekly Pokémon League, where players of all ages and ability levels can play together and trade cards in a family friendly environment. Pokémon League meets every Saturday from 11am-3pm.
Events & Community
Blue Ox Games has a large common space in which patrons read comic books, play games, trade cards, and socialize.
“We have a very diverse community of players here from all races and backgrounds. I think games are great icebreakers to get people together and going across lines that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise cross,” Frank says.
Blue Ox Games hosts weekly game nights in their community room (every Monday), at Pitt Street Brewing in Uptown (every Tuesday), and holds a Comic Talk at Smashed Waffles (every Thursday), which Frank describes as “a nice little geek discussion group.”
Blue Ox Games is located at 2713 East 10th Street in Greenville, NC. For more information, visit blueoxgames.com or call 252-695-6442. Keep up with upcoming events, game nights, and league events by following Blue Ox Games on Facebook.