Gaming in recent years has become more than just a hobby. From content creation to live streaming people all over the world are using gaming as a business. But this rise in popularity has also led to a massive evolution in the gaming space. Going from Pen & Paper to Virtual Reality is a big step and one that has had an effect on the industry as a whole.
With more and more technology being created people are constantly seeking the next big thing, Does this mean old forms of gaming content are being left in the dust? Will older styles of gaming like Tabletop and Pen & Paper games become obsolete? The owners of Iron Buffalo and Gather & Game don’t believe so…
Iron Buffalo is a locally-owned and enthusiast-operated small business located on the edge of Amherst and Buffalo, NY. Iron Buffalo is a place for people who love all that is geekery and coffee. A shop such as this possesses the rare ability to bring a community together and make learning fun. A safe place where children can be children while adults are reminded how fun life can be. Comic books encourage reading and imagination. Card games such as Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon encourage strategic thinking, creativity and, yes, math. Board games encourage people to come together, learn and teach and enjoy each other face to face.
Owner William Waterrose stated “We pivoted and became more of a gaming shop and focused more on sitting down, being able to play and grab a coffee. We welcome GCG, Pokemon, Dragonball, the Magic: The Gathering, but the other thing we have is a wide selection of independent role playing games. We have a library of games that come directly from the authors around the country, around the world and some locally.”
Iron Buffalo has been nominated for a national award by GAMA, the largest organization in the gaming industry, making them one of 9 shops in North America to become a finalist. They also have their own exclusive blend of coffee, which can be purchased at their store.
Gather and Game opened their used bookstore (Westside Stories) on Grant St in 2011 and started carrying gaming products at the bookstore in 2014. When a storefront across the street from their bookshop opened up in 2019, they jumped at the chance to spin the game store off on its own as Gather & Game.
Competition is what makes many games engaging and fun, but Gather and Game is committed to the notion of fun first in all of their programming and events. It’s their aspiration that they hope shines through to each person who comes in and while realizing it’s a constant work in progress. Their mom and pop shop runs with a very small staff of avid local gamers who all live in our westside neighborhood and share this vision.
“We gravitated towards gaming because I’ve always been a gamer. I grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons and that’s what spawned my interest in literature and getting into books. We started carrying some D&D products, some Pokemon and Magic cards and it got to the point where we realized we were going to have to start getting rid of some books to allow this product line to continue to grow or spin it off on its own. More people are craving interpersonal connection, which is what I think tabletop gaming is built around. It means we’re gonna see continued growth around this”
The Metaverse brings people together from all over the world and allows them to play together in real time. However, there will always be a need for human contact, regardless if it’s gaming related or not. There is always going to be a need to socialize with people right in front of you to create a deeper human connection. Being able to play with your friends, eating junk food, staying up late, and playing games is something that can only shine when you are face to face with everyone.
It’s possible that the pandemic has caused people to seek out human connection again and being able to play games together in the same setting is what some people want to experience again. Will & Iron Buffalo are looking into “Magical Mirror” technology. Ultimately the Metaverse in general is going to be the future. “Magic Mirror” technology is similar to facetime where one gaming store can connect with another gaming store, which will allow the employees to interact but can further increase the number of players. After paying a visit to these stores and seeing the operation for myself I can say with certainty that not only are old styles of gaming still thriving but the businesses centered around these styles are thriving along with it.
AUTHOR | Alex Ferrel
Alex Ferrel is a college student studying film and visual effects at Hilbert College. In his spare time, he is either working on video projects for his YouTube Channel or playing games with his friends. Having been born and raised in Buffalo he tries to get out and experience all the city has to offer.
Photography by Vincent Berbano