Friendly local game stores and their owners are to few and far between. I think when a game store has to close down, for whatever reason, it affects us all in the gaming community. It does not matter how faraway you are or how close you are to a game store. If one closes its doors we are all adversely affected one way or another.
Most of you will have no idea who Dave Estes is. Truth is, I didn’t know him all that well myself, but the man had a positive impact on my life. Because of that, I think he is worth being remembered for all that he did for the hobby and the community.
Juneau, Alaska does not have much in the way of gaming or comic book stores. If you have ever been to Juneau its pretty easy to see that just by having a hobby store like the one Dave ran in this part of the country is a hard thing to keep afloat. Throughout the years that he owned his store, Collector’s Hideaway he did his very best to cater to the changing needs of the community.
Dave loved gaming and he showed it by the way he ran his store. He held Magic The Gathering tournaments almost weekly. He would teach kids new to the game how to play or pare them up with someone he though could help them learn the game better. He also dabbled in table top role playing games. Even through he never sold a lot of gaming books or minis he still manage to do the special orders that a couple of us in town asked for. He would often e-mail me with specials he heard about regarding role playing games or I would e-mail him about some special run of minis Wizards of the Coast was doing and he would go out of his way to try and get them for me.
Back in March of 2010 I wrote a story for Stargazer’s World titled, Gaming In Remote Locations: Juneau Alaska. In that story I talked about my own personal experiences with gaming in an isolated placed like Juneau. I also used that story as an opportunity to interview Dave Estes about his locally owned store. We spent most of the time talking about the most popular game in Juneau at the time, and I think still is, Magic The Gathering. As we chatted he would stop to help out a young kid who walked in with his mother who wanted Pokémon cards but had questions as to which pack he should buy. He even offered to help the boy get in contact with other Pokémon players in town.
The gaming community has lost a good friend in Dave Estes. He will be missed and remembered upon fondly. As the latest chapter closes on this small town we sit and wait with our dice and cards in hand for the next one to begin.
Over this past Memorial Day weekend my gaming group and I got together for a barbecue and some Dungeons & Dragons. Normally the games are at my and my fiancé’s place, but with spring and summer here the weather has been nothing short of amazingly perfect. This last week we have had sunny days with temperatures in the mid to high 70s.
In Juneau, Alaska the summer days can get quite long. Currently the sun is up by 4:30am and sets at 9:30ish, though it’s still light out for several more hours. Due to this, we have been pushing the start of the games to later in the evening because everyone in our group wants to take advantage of this great weather. I really can’t blame anyone for wanting to go outside and play in the sun, considering I’m one of them.
We ended up changing things a little this last weekend. It was going to be the last weekend I would be able to DM for a couple of weeks, so everyone wanted to get one last game in before I would be unavailable. Everyone was working with busy schedules so none of us where able to make a game later in the day. One person from our gaming group (will call him by his character name Shadow an Elf Shaman) suggested that we have our weekly game earlier at his place since as he has a big porch and we could all be outside and have a barbecue for lunch.
The idea went over well with everyone so we met at Shadow’s house on Sunday just before lunch. I got my battlemats all set up along with my Dungeon Master Binder, minis and dice.
This was the first time I had ever played Dungeons & Dragons outside and I was a little worried about the wind causing issues. I quickly realized my worries were unfounded. The day was not windy at all and Shadow’s house was surrounded by trees. I imagine it would have to have been quite windy for it to have been noticeable on the porch.
iPhone picture from our D&D BBQ Game
Shadow grilled up some chicken, burgers, and sausages while I did the normal recap of what happened during our last game and got our group of adventures pointed in the direction of their next mission, which was to restore the eye site of one member of our party. Everyone in the group brought something to contribute to the barbecue. I brought some Macaroni and cheese while my Fiancé (Erona, a Deva Warlock) brought chips and soda. Our other friends and gamers (Snort, a Half Orc Avenger and Scorcha, a Dragonborn Sorcerer) also brought snacks and drinks to share.
Time really flies when your playing Dungeons & Dragons. Our adventurers traveled three days by boat to the island of Nütor in search of a powerful shaman named Roz. Everyone had learned that Roz might be able to restore Erona’s eye sight. After the end of the first encounter it was time to take a brake and eat lunch.
Our D&D games are pretty relaxed. It’s not uncommon for us to get side tracked for an hour or more during lunch or dinner to just talk about life, the universe, and everything.
With full stomachs we returned to our game on the porch. I noticed that the mid day sun had inched it’s way onto the porch and the minis on the battlemat where getting soft from the heat. We moved the table a bit so it was out of direct sunlight and the party continued to search for Shaman Roz.
After everyone got through the Kobold encounter (an idea I borrowed from dicemonkey.net) and a Harpy encounter my group of adventures finally got to speak to the Shaman Roz. Thankfully, Roz was able to restore Erona’s eye sight and she no longer required the aid of the other members in her party to explore the world.
It was a good end to a great game with close friends and awesome food. I never thought playing Dungeons & Dragons outside would work. I was presently surprised how well everything worked out. If I have one word of caution it would to take good care of your minis out in the heat of the sun.
Anyone else played an RPG outside? What’s your experience been like?
A little over 4 years ago I moved to Juneau Alaska. I was leaving behind Seattle Washington for a better job. I went from living in a city with a population of around 600,000 to a city with a population of around 30,000. Compared to the emerald city, Juneau Alaska is a laid back, slower paced place to live. I have also learned that it rains farm more in Juneau then it ever did in Seattle. (Perhaps I should have checked that out more before I moved.) Nevertheless, I am here and I have enjoyed it very much. It’s a beautiful place to live and you can almost always see snow-capped mountains and the ocean from anywhere Juneau.
Juneau is defiantly a place for the nature orientated person. Of which, I am not. Hiking, hunting, boating fishing, and skiing are 15 minutes away from each other. For six months out of the year it gets dark with as little as three to four hours of sunlight a day. Having something to do in the dark cold months was definitely a reason that lead me to learn and play Dungeons & Dragons. You can actually read about how I got started playing on my blog.
You really get a sense of how small the capital city in Alaska is when you realize it only has one comic book/gaming store called Collectors Hideaway. Inside you will find the owner Dave Estes, either behind the counter looking up coins for his collectors on his computer, or over seeing games of Magic The Gathering in the front of his store.
Dave’s store has a little bit of everything. Comics, coins, baseball and football cards, Star Wars and D&D miniatures, Magic The Gathering cards, Dungeons & Dragons books and a lot of other stuff. Dave was kind enough to let me interview him for this story, an about gaming in Juneau Alaska.
Youseph: So you’re a gamer. What games do you play and when did you first get started in gaming?
Dave: I play Magic The Gathering. It came out in October of 1993. I started selling in the summer of 1994 and started playing pretty quickly after that.
Youseph: So you didn’t really have a choice then?
Dave: *laughs* yeah, Magic The Addiction.
Youseph: How did your store, Collectors Hideaway come about?
Dave: I wondered into the Alaskan Recruiting Company which was a store in downtown Juneau that sold miscellaneous hobby items. I became friends with the owner who told me that he was having trouble locating items wholesale. So I looked around and started selling to him wholesale. I became his buyer and it left him free to do selling. When he passed on I bought up his stock and opened up a store down town at the emporium mall in 1992. I moved to my current location here about 5 years ago. I have run this store for about 18 years now.
Youseph: Have you ever had any trouble keeping the your store stocked with games or other items?
Dave: No. It’s one of the things I do a lot here. Looking around the internet and trying to find where I can get stuff. I have done that for a while. I have had a least a dozen different wholesalers. Quite a few of those are out of business now.
Youseph: What would you say is the most popular game in Juneau right now?
Dave: Magic The Gathering. By a long shot. At one time I had a mailing list of over 100 people playing in Southeast Alaska. It’s probably half that now. It’s still steady. I play in a gaming group right now with a dozen people. I know there are groups like that all around town.
Youseph: Yeah, I know you have people in your store playing.
Dave: Yeah every Saturday. For a long time we where playing every Friday night. We had tournaments with as many as 30 people. Back in the day Pokémon was large and so was Yugio. I have had quite a few Pokémon and Yugio tournaments in here but that was in the late 1990’s early 2000’s. There would be 16 people in here on Saturdays playing Pokémon. But, Magic the Gathering was the first collectible card game and it’s the best.
Youseph: It still is in your opinion?
Dave: By far.
Youseph: I touched on Magic The Gathering a little bit in high school and I could not wrap my head around it. I found myself buying the cards thought because I really liked the art and I still have them.
Dave: It took a while for me to get into it. My oldest daughter tought me how to play. It’s hard to get into but after I got into it I have been playing with family and friends ever since. I have been playing with this set group every Friday night for the last 5 years now. We have 12 people that show up but their is a set 6 of us.
Youseph: Can you play a game Magic The Gathering with 12 people at one table all playing the same game?
Dave: You can… it’s a bit much. You can play with an infinite number of people. For me multi-player Magic is best with 4 or 5 people. It gives you enought time develop your deck. One on one is such a fast paced game that those games may only last 4 or 5 minutes. 3 person is still just a variation of a 2 person game because everybody is hitting each other pretty quick. Once you get to 4, 5, or 6 people it gets to be a longer turn game. It might last an hour or an hour and a half. People seem to have a lot more fun with 4 or 5 players. It’s a great social game.
Youseph: 1 to 2 hours? wow. I have been playing the same Dungeons & Dragons game for almost a year. It will be a year next month.
Dave: This summer a group of us are thinking about starting a D&D 3.5 game. I have never played before so this will be my first time but what I heard last night is that we might switch to playing online D&D. I don’t know anything about it really.
Youseph: I know there is an online version of Magic The Gathering.
Dave: Yeah. There are several people who play it in town here. It’s pretty good. I have actually played it myself. It’s not social and I play for social not for winning or losing. That’s what I like about magic is that it’s so social. I have seen it in my store where an 8-year-old comes up to a 15-year-old and says “Hey, let’s play”. You don’t see that kind of social stuff in almost any other environment really where an 8-year-old and a 15-year-old are peers. I think that’s really great.
I thanked Dave for his time and picked up a set of Dungeons & Dragons minis from him before going home to start my weekly D&D game.
Personally, having lived in Juneau for over 4 years and having played Dungeons & Dragons for almost a year now, the biggest thing I noticed was how hard it was to find people locally who are already playing Dungeons & Dragons. In this age of high-speed internet, and lighting quick search results things to the awesome power of our TUBES (Thank you Alaska Senator Ted Stevens) I was not able to find any local Dungeons & Dragons groups online. I think I went around for 4 months trying to find other local Dungeons & Dragons players.
I did eventually find them. In the one place I should have started looking from the get go. My local book stores.
In the end I started a Dungeons & Dragons game with my fiancé and some friends from a the local theater. Everyone at the game was new to it and we have all had fun playing and learning the game.
If your in a remote location and into RPG or table top gaming and would like to be interviewed about your experiences, drop me a line.
A Roleplaying Games blog
If you leave a comment on our site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website in cookies. These are for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. These cookies will last for one year.
If you have an account and you log in to this site, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser.
When you log in, we will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select “Remember Me”, your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed.
If you edit or publish an article, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day.