GAME INN is an oasis for all the board game players of Thessaloniki and thus we have decided to make an interview with the people who started this lovely little place and ask them what led them to establish it …
What was the first idea behind establishing this place? How did GAME INN come to be?
NICOS: First time, when this idea came to our mind, my game loving friends and I were actually still at university. We were very passionate about board gaming and thus we were looking for a proper place where we could play, because we did not always have a house available to us. Also most of the places in Thessaloniki were either bit too noisy or full of smoke. This was also uncomfortable as most of us were non-smokers. Thus we thought that it would be nice to have a place with big tables where a whole board game would fit. A place where people would be able to find nice and quiet atmosphere. We also had this big idea in our heads of sofas and couches and all the lovely little details that would be nice to bring to life … and at some point we realized that if no one else is going to do it then we have to do it.
The idea of GAME INN was to make it like your living room. Have a relaxed atmosphere with low music and friendly environment, because people like to spent time quietly when they are playing games. We also try to have games for most tastes, because board games are so diverse and there are so many of them that it does not really make sense to focus only on the games from one category, so the idea for this place is to be as inclusive as possible. It is a place for board gamers. So we try to have something for every taste and people seem to like that.
Is GAME INN the kind of place that is sought mostly by hardcore gamers or does it also serve as an sanctuary for light occasional players?
GIANNIS: I think that the majority of the players in Thessaloniki are less experienced, non-heavy gamers, because games here in Greece are still far behind in comparison to England or Germany. Thus our main target group is the gamers that want to try something light or have a coffee and board game aside, but we are also open for heavy gamers. Actually, our game library has been also built on this principle. So, you can see over there like 10 to 15 heavy games, then more like 50 medium games and 100 light ones.
GAME INN is one of the few places in the city that strictly follows the non-smoking policies, how people react to that?
NICOS: It was always part of the plan. For many people who do not smoke there are not many viable alternatives in Thessaloniki and thus they eventually get used to going to the places that are full of smoke. But why should they? And for this reason we decided to strictly follow the rules and we ended up having a non-smoking place. It’s been a bit difficult from the start, because some people do not come here because of this policy and it’s understandable. However, we decided to stick to our plans and make ourselves and other non-smokers from Thessaloniki happy.
How would you respond to those narrow-minded comments of people which say that gaming is an activity that is suitable only for kids. Are you also trying to deconstruct this stereotype somehow?
NICOS: I am not trying to do anything. I think that it is happening in society on its own. You now have board games as a part of as of our everyday life and I think that it is very interesting, because you cannot just say to people: Go and play board games, it is really good for you! It should be a natural process. Something that people like to do by themselves, in order to spend their time in a funny and social way.
GIANNIS: Yes, I am trying to deconstruct it. As I said before, here in Greece when you say board games, people usually have in mind monopoly, scrabble and stuff like that, basically games that we used to play as kids. They do not really know what board games are. For this reason, when I speak to someone about board games, I also like to refer to board games in a similar way as I refer to books – there are books for everyone. So whatever your taste is, whatever you want to read, there is also actually a very good board game for you in this area of your interest. On the other hand, you can also learn from board games, because topics like geography, history or economy is actually very common in board games as well.
Do you still enjoy playing games when you see and explain them to your customers every day?
NICOS: That was our concern when we first started that we will see these games every day, especially when your hobby becomes your work you can get tired of it, but fortunately enough it did not happened to us. We still have fun. We have become more picky at what we play, because now we have less time. As for the second part of your question: if am I still enthusiastic about explaining the same game for the fiftieth time. No. But I have become better at it and now I can do it much faster and in an efficient way.
Ameritrash or Eurogames?
GIANNIS: It’s a very tough question. My diverse answer would be that I am a gamer and I like good games in each category, but I tend to buy more Eurogames, because I like more worker placement mechanisms, gathering resources and stuff like that. I prefer that.
NICOS: For me, it is really boring to play only one and the same game over and over, but at the same time, people have certain preferences. I prefer Eurogames, but I also like a little bit of randomness, which is more common in Ameritrash. Because when you play just a pure Eurogame usually it becomes just a matter of calculating out the best possible option. It might be interesting for first couple of games, but when you figure out what the best move is every time then you are basically playing like a robot. So I like a little bit of randomness in games to mix things up. So my answer to your question would be that I like Eurogames with the little hint of Ameritrash.
Which are the top 3 timeless games in your personal collection?
GIANNIS: The first one is easy; it is a Mansion of Madness. Both, the first and the second edition. For the second and third one, I would say Charterstone and maybe … wait; I am just mentally looking at my library (laughter) … maybe Colt Express that we also have over here in GAME INN.
NICOS: Well, my personal collection has been transferred to Game Inn. So I do not have many games left. Let me think … one is definitely Citadels. Dixit is also very common in our board game nights and the other game that I’ve played fairly often is called Descent. It is a campaign of heroes against evil and I have actually played it far more than I thought that I would have.
Which of the upcoming games are you looking forward to?
GIANNIS: Do we also count expansions?
Yes. Of course.
GIANNIS: Then, I have already preordered the new expansion for Mansions of Madness … the second edition. Also I have placed an order since summer, but it is out of print, for Rice of Nobility. And also Dinosaur Island seems to be very interesting.
And which of the upcoming games are you looking forward to, Nicos?
NICOS: I would really like to try Rising Sun, because I like the theme, I have to admit. I got the feeling from the reviews and videos I’ve watched that it is an interesting area control game with lots of options for how to score points. There seems to be also quite a lot of social interaction. Players form alliances, which give them benefits and then they can break them and form new alliances that will provide them with other benefits, etc. So it seems to be very interesting in this way. Also, the theme is a big thing for me over here, because I really like the whole fantasy, Asian, occidental feel of this game as well.
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