The Nicest Motherfucker

There are (were) two tabletop stores on one street in Glasgow.

One is bright yellow outside and bright-lit inside. It has twice the selection, three times the staff, and what must be the most micromanaged binder of Pokemon cards ever compiled. No matter when you go in, whatever the position of the stars or the waxing of the moon, some guy is rearranging it to some pattern only he knows.

One has wire security doors and a sign so faded that you can’t direct people there by name (and when you do, you tell them not to show up any earlier than one, even though the window says 12:00-17:00). Inside, the bulbs are a little dim and the air is a little cold. Cash, no cards – the owner is still steadfastly holding back the ’90s.

One of these stores doesn’t want to know you, and barely wants to know your money. One of these stores closed down last month.

Yes, of course it’s the bloody nice one.

Looking at these fine establishments, it’s easy to guess which has the unshakeable rep for ‘you want to interrupt our chatting with your customer malarkey?’ shenanigans. It’s the shabby little joint, obviously, else we’d have gone through these contrived parallels for nothing. What, you thought those florid descriptions served nothing greater than a telegraphed gotcha twist? Come, now. We’re both women of the narrative cliche world, you and me. They were in service of a meandering joke about gotcha twists.


Continue reading

Playing Without Playfulness

Written 08/11/2011. First posted here.

If you’ve played tabletop for any length of time you should be familiar with this scene: A few tables are set up around the room, players sit with bowed heads and considering expressions; contemplating their next move – or whether they have enough change for another beer – when a voice cuts through the camaraderie.

“No, I’m sure you moved them six-point-two inches!”

Heads turn. Eyes roll. Some poor bastard is about to lose her game to a twenty-minute argument over six millimetres. (Or, as the aspiring rules lawyer will be happy to lecture you, 5.08mm.)

Continue reading