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Subject: Survey of female gamers: Your experiences at local game stores rss

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L J
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1. How many retail game stores have you visited in the last three years? An estimate is fine.

6 - 2 in Manchester UK, 4 in Berlin.


2. Where were these stores located? The state is fine but if you can include the city that would also be great. Also not necessary but helpful, feel free to name the stores specifically if you want.

Manchester UK, Berlin Germany.


3. In your opinion as a woman, did the majority of these stores have an atmosphere that was A)hostile, B)not hostile, but certainly unwelcoming, C)Neutral, neither welcoming nor unwelcoming, or D)welcoming: to non-gamers, women especially? I hope this succinctly encompasses most perceptions. If none of these describe your experience then you can give a different answer than A through D. But please stick to these four choices if you can as it makes using the data much easier.

Most are neutral. The staff are usually very welcoming (excluding a shop in Berlin which seems to think I'm going to steal their stock as they follow me around the whole time till I give up and leave).

What is not welcoming is the toilets. Seriously, can we have the loos cleaned more than once a week? And facilities to wash my hands properly? And loo roll? And maybe a hygiene bin.

Better air conditioning would help too. I'm used to that "tournament smell" now, but for first time gamers of any gender, that's got to be offputting.


4. Are there any stores you'd like to shout out as examples of having good or bad atmosphere? For example, a store that was horrible and/or a store that was outstanding at welcoming non-gamers, women especially. Please give the store's name, city and state. If you can't remember the store's name then city and state will suffice.

Fanboy 3 Manchester UK has great staff and is very welcoming. Same goes for Gamers HQ and Brettspielgeschaeft in Berlin. I'd rather not name the bad atmosphere ones.

5. Any comments you'd like to add that might be included in my article?
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S Squidpigge
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Quote:
One of my major contentions is that the majority of stores are in fact unwelcoming if not outright hostile environments for non-gamers, women especially.


I started thinking if you really want to see what non-gamers experiences are bgg is probably not the best place to survey. My wife is familiar with games because of me but is not what I would consider a gamer and is not on bgg. I just wonder if women that are on BGG and/or consider themselves gamers may have a very different perspective from non-gamers whether they are male or female.

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travvller wrote:
One of my major contentions is that the majority of stores are in fact unwelcoming if not outright hostile environments for non-gamers, women especially.


... Um, so I am a woman and I am a hard-core gamer. So it sounds like this doesn't apply to me because you are asking about non-gamer women. I don't see how you are going to get many responses from non-gamer women when the women who would have accounts on here ARE gamers.

I'm more than a bit confused about where you are going with this effort
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1. How many retail game stores have you visited in the last three years? An estimate is fine.

7 (seven)


2. Where were these stores located? The state is fine but if you can include the city that would also be great. Also not necessary but helpful, feel free to name the stores specifically if you want.

Austin, TX
Round Rock, TX


3. In your opinion as a woman, did the majority of these stores have an atmosphere that was A)hostile, B)not hostile, but certainly unwelcoming, C)Neutral, neither welcoming nor unwelcoming, or D)welcoming: to non-gamers, women especially?

All welcoming, though some more than others. There was one store - don't remember which one - where I was shopping for the game, but the guy kept looking at my boyfriend when he answered my questions. I was asking the questions and putting up the cash for the game. It was frustrating, but it was one guy in the store, where the other guys in the store were better than that. Maybe he was scared of girls. Role-playing situations where he has to talk to girls, or even be a girl, might benefit him.



4. Are there any stores you'd like to shout out as examples of having good or bad atmosphere? For example, a store that was horrible and/or a store that was outstanding at welcoming non-gamers, women especially. Please give the store's name, city and state. If you can't remember the store's name then city and state will suffice.

Dragons Lair (Austin,TX), Rogue Gallery (Round Rock,TX), and Emerald Tavern (Austin, TX), in particular, have women on their staff and very courteous and helpful men. I love going to these stores. (Emerald Tavern is a bit special, though.)


5. Any comments you'd like to add that might be included in my article?

Just to note that many types of hobby stores or other stores, such as camera shops, computer/electronics stores, have atmospheres that intimidate or annoy women. I've even had negative experiences with auto insurance agents who thought I asked too many questions.
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Lance McMillan
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travvller wrote:
swmalone wrote:
Quote:
I bring this up just to say that being a woman doesn't necessarily have to do with whether a store is welcoming or not, and crappy stores are probably crappy stores to everyone.


I agree with this.


Based on my experience I would have to disagree.

I've been to dozens of stores where there were many customers - all male. The stores seemed to be just fine and have been in business for years.


You're branching into a different topic. I know of several game stores that have been in business for years but are hardly what I'd call "welcoming." Their clientele in these places is often drawn from a fairly small closed group (who are often focused on just one or two specialized games, often miniatures based), but they generate sufficient commerce to keep the shop open. I've been to a number of stores like that: the moment you walk in, you know you're viewed as an interloper who doesn't belong -- it has nothing to do with whether you're male or female, it's all about whether you're part of that "tribe."

Being a predominantly "all male" store doesn't necessarily mean the venue isn't welcoming to women. It may just mean that the gamers who go to that store tend to mostly play games there that have more appeal to males than females (wargames being a good case in point). It's also worth noting that the ambiance and clientele of a store can vary depending on when you visit it. For example, there's a local game store that I go to almost every Sunday to play Pike & Shotte, and nearly all the gamers who I see there are male; I recently had reason to visit that same store on a Friday evening and was a bit surprised to find several mixed-gender D&D groups (and one which was all female) in session. Up until that moment my mental image of the types of people who played games at the store were mostly of males playing miniatures wargames, clearly it was just on Sundays that that was the case.
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Kim Williams
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Ryalyn wrote:
travvller wrote:
One of my major contentions is that the majority of stores are in fact unwelcoming if not outright hostile environments for non-gamers, women especially.


... Um, so I am a woman and I am a hard-core gamer. So it sounds like this doesn't apply to me because you are asking about non-gamer women. I don't see how you are going to get many responses from non-gamer women when the women who would have accounts on here ARE gamers.

I'm more than a bit confused about where you are going with this effort


Yes, this confused me too.

It may just be a badly worded sentence, but it sounds like you're thinking of women as necessarily only a sub-group of non-gamers. It may be you meant to say "...unwelcoming for non-gamers, and especially non-gaming women", but if that's what you're interested in, as is pointed out above, you're not going to find non-gaming women as members of BGG (all you'll get is anecdotes from their gaming partners/friends etc)

I'm from the UK, consider myself very much a gaming female, and have had very positive experiences in all the dedicated boardgaming shops and cafe's I've been to (Rules of Play, Cardiff, Leisure Games, London, and Thirsty Meeples, Oxford). The stores were all clean, had friendly staff, and I perceived not a hint of bad vibe towards me as a female. Thirsty Meeples even had such a lovely toilet that I went back with my camera (To capture their Carcassonne pieces framed mirror).

Equally I've had many very positive experience at the UK Games Expo, where we had many demonstrations of games, and I never once felt that the demonstrators had the slightest issue with me being female - but it is a very mixed crowd that attend, so females don't stand out even if they are in the minority.

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Desi W.
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If that's true, non-gamers only, then disregard my earlier post. I play a lot of games.
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Ran Carnelaine
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1. 5.

2. 4 in Madison, 1 in NYC.

3. My two go-to stores in Madison are cool. I'm pretty sure one of them is more polite to us than they feel (hah, we sometimes stop by too often just to kill time), and the other is uber-welcoming (I became quite friendly with three of the staff members that work there, and they now know me by name). They both treat me and my friend (a guy) equally (also, they both have female staff members). The other two stores in the area that we don't frequent treated us equally with more apathy, and the one in NYC is famous but not very friendly all-around. The only time I felt a bit slighted for being a non-guy was from other (stranger) gamers.

4. I'm Board in Madison is awesome. I also frequent Pegasus Games, but their eurogame selection is smaller.

5. One thing to keep in mind is something I told my friend yesterday, which is that we need to be careful about our own biases when perceiving others' biases (or not perceiving others' biases and downgrading other people's experiences). He felt that his manager was treating him differently from how a co-worker's manager was treating her, and he attributed that to her being female. I asked if this was an incident that only happened with him vs. his co-worker, him vs. all his co-workers, him and his other male co-workers vs. that one female co-worker, or what. He couldn't answer that, so it was confusing that he would focus on the fact that she was female (rather than something like the difference in their personality, or in their managers, or how much work they got done in the same amount of time, or simply in that maybe she asked for an exemption and he didn't).
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Caroline Berg
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Yes... I agree with Ryalyn. I'm a hard-core gamer of all types of games. I cannot speak to a time when I visited game stores when I wasn't a gamer, since the first time I went to one I had already been playing RPGs for years, and video games for even longer.

I have never had a bad experience at a game store, but it could be because I exude such an aura of geek that it looks like I naturally belong there. It had been at least ten years since I've been in what I would consider a "dive" game store (poorly lit, dungeon-like store in the basement of a building) - but even then, I was not made unwelcome.

The game stores I frequent these days are a bit higher caliber, and I have nothing but good things to say about all of them. But again, I'm not a non-gamer (especially since I make games!) so I'm not sure if my responses are typical.
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Daniel Blumentritt
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Quote:
One of my major contentions is that the majority of stores are in fact unwelcoming if not outright hostile environments for non-gamers, women especially


I think he meant "non-gamers, especially those non-gamers who are women". Just a guess though.
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John Burt
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I'll attempt to channel a reply from my wife, who is what you might call a "gamer-spouse" - who enthusiastically plays and enjoys games with me as a couples activity, but would not likely seek to play games otherwise. She doesn't have a BGG account or read BGG.

#1 & #2: she has visited three game stores near our home in SE Portland OR.

#3 & #4:

- One store is small and boutique-like, and very "woman friendly" with a cozy atmosphere and a selection of puzzles and games for "casual-gamers" and kids. The store is co-owned by a married couple, and the wife is often there interacting with customers and showing how to play games. Verdict: D: generally welcome to non-gamer women

- One store is a bit larger, and though it has a good selection of boardgames, it caters heavily to the MTG and minis crowd, with a play area in the back. The salespeople are friendly (some more than others), and about 1/2 female, but not overly interactive. My wife tolerates this store, though she doesn't prefer to go there because of the atmosphere. Verdict: C: neutral.

- The third store is really big, essentially a warehouse space. They have a large selection of games and a large play area. They do a lot of MTG and minis and tournament events. The staff is very solicitous, but they seem to mostly have hired young geeky game guys, and the place has an overall geeky vibe, from the salespeople, the layout and the clientele. We were both there a couple of days ago to buy some dice. My wife was impressed by the salespeople's friendliness and desire to help, but expressed an intense need to get out of the store after about 15 minutes: it "creeped her out", which I think means the overall environment was just too geeky and adolescent. Verdict: B-C: neutral to unwelcome, depending on a woman's tolerance to gamegeekiness.


#5: One situation that causes my wife a lot of annoyance is when we both go to a store and the salesperson (man or woman) talks to me (the man) rather than us, or to her. I think that a lot of women will recognize this: the eye contact, the body language, the emotional affect are focused on the guy and it's as if the woman standing inches away is completely invisible. I think that this happens a lot in other types of retail environments, but is especially strong in game stores. Possibly this is because salespeople are mostly young, and though very nice, frankly they often seem to have poor social skills. Focusing on the man is almost instinctive and it takes an effort of self-awareness to NOT do it. I think this kind of unaware gender bias can have a strong effect on a woman's impression of a retail environment.
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Hazelnutbreve
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The Survey

1. 7

2.4 in Syracuse NY and surrounding areas, and 2 in Richmond VA and the surrounding area and 1 in Lynchburg VA.

3. D.
Interesting note: I almost said C and briefly considered B. I think the reason is that if you have one bad experience early on, even if the next 5 are ok, you still have this general negative impression. When I actually thought about each store, the majority were good. (Good = greeted at the door, the store was clean,the clerk didn't talk down to me, the store was well lit, and the store was in a convenient location)
In my opinion, a very few bad gaming stores give all gaming stores in general a bad name.

4. Both of the stores we have been to near Richmond have seemed pretty good. They are One-eyed Jacques and Battlegrounds(open games you can play, well lit, lots of room and lots of tables. Games and accessories around the perimeter of the store). We relocated to this area this year and they are the ones we have visited most recently. The Comic Shop in Oswego Ny is quite welcoming of anyone that comes in. I don't remember the names of the other stores.

5. As a newer gamer, something that I would like to see is an informative website. I want to see an events calendar with lots of details about how to get involved with the games played. Details like: do you have to sign up?, do you show up and they help you find a group to play with?, do you have to mingle and find someone there willing to play a game with you? It is also helpful to see pics of past events on their websites. I would like to see at least one event a month that is specifically for newbies/new comers.
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Emily Groff
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1. How many retail game stores have you visited in the last three years? An estimate is fine.

Within the past three years, I have probably visited about 10 different stores. I tend to go to some of the same ones.


2. Where were these stores located? The state is fine but if you can include the city that would also be great. Also not necessary but helpful, feel free to name the stores specifically if you want.

I have been to game stores in Clemson, SC (GeekOutGames); Anderson, SC (Planet Comics); Snellville, GA (Tower Games); Athens, GA (DragonStar Games..I believe); Smyrna, GA (Titan Games and Comics); Greenville, SC (Boardwalk Games)...Those are the ones I remember.


3. In your opinion as a woman, did the majority of these stores have an atmosphere that was A)hostile, B)not hostile, but certainly unwelcoming, C)Neutral, neither welcoming nor unwelcoming, or D)welcoming: to non-gamers, women especially? I hope this succinctly encompasses most perceptions. If none of these describe your experience then you can give a different answer than A through D. But please stick to these four choices if you can as it makes using the data much easier.

Many of these stores did have a welcoming atmosphere to women. A couple of them were neutral, and one was odd because I walked in and literally every eye turned on me and didn't leave, but my husband was thankfully ignored. It was awkward.

So: Most were D, welcoming with some being C, Neutral.

4. Are there any stores you'd like to shout out as examples of having good or bad atmosphere? For example, a store that was horrible and/or a store that was outstanding at welcoming non-gamers, women especially. Please give the store's name, city and state. If you can't remember the store's name then city and state will suffice.

I absolutely loved GeekOutGames in Clemson, SC. It was seriously beyond welcoming whenever I was there.

5. Any comments you'd like to add that might be included in my article?

First of all, I think that this article will be a really interesting read, but I want to caution some of your wording (which you are free to ignore, but I teach English, and something you said irked me). You are lumping non-gamers and women together such as when you say : "non-gamers, especially women". This implies that women are non-gamers. I believe that this is just a wording issuing and that you are not implying that women are not gamers, but in order to make your data and article clear, I would consider rewording! =]
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1/2 - probably four or five. Two here in Central Illinois (one is a "seasonal store" that opens in our mall for the holiday season only, one is our local store). Plus a few while traveling - mainly in Indianapolis or St. Louis. Sorry - don't remember names.

3 - the seasonal store is a neutral, they don't have gaming space and they are rather ... eh on welcoming or not. The local FLGS is usually pretty good on welcoming and talking to us, without being overly friendly. I generally give off a "don't bug me" vibe to salesclerks, I will admit. When I buy something or start seriously looking, the local store has been great about discussing without automatically assuming that just because I'm female that I don't know what I'm talking about. Our local store, however, is much more a MagicTG store than a true full-line board game store.

The out of town shops - hit or miss. One store in Indy has been neutral - they welcome me and it's clean and neat but they don't drool on me because I'm female (I've been involved in geeky activities for a long time - sold comics before the comic bust, do the convention thing occasionally, etc. I'm used to the whole "wow, it's a female" thing you get as a woman in the geek world). The other stores have been more "not hostile, but not welcoming" - which is about par for the course with comic shops/video game stores/etc.

4. Horrid with names of places, so I honestly wouldn't remember where the out of town places were.

5. I'm used to the whole geek-culture-where-women-are-not-common thing so I guess I'm used to getting stares when I enter a store. As long as they don't talk down to me when I ask about something, I'm good. Of course, I also frequent used bookstores, so I'm used to not being pestered by salespeople - I actively prefer to be left alone to browse.

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travvller wrote:
[q="Mashpotassium"][q="travvller"]
.. How could it not be reflected in stores especially when so many of them are run by serious gamers . . . who are typically white and male?...



So... I can make game stores uncomfortable for people because I am a white male?

Look, to me it seems like you have a beef with Asmodee. Big deal, everyone does.

I can go and shop at primarily magic the gathering style stores and get all bent out of shape too. I have been to 14 game stores, and all of them were good. But, because my opinion is not in line with yours, there must be something shockingly wrong with it.
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Tara Tallan
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I'm a gamer but really only for the past three years, so I remember what it was like being a non-gamer. However, I'm a also life-long comic nerd with a tolerance for creepy stores, so take that for whatever it's worth.

I've been to at least 6 game stores, mostly in the Toronto, ON area. I'm not sure if you want to count places like board game cafés as game stores as well. I mean, they sell games, and I have bought games at nearly every board game café I have visited, so yes? Then maybe raise the total to 11 games stores.

401 Games (Toronto)
Hairy Tarantula (Toronto, downtown location)
Board Game Bliss (Toronto)
Meeplemart (Toronto)
F.G. Bradleys (Pickering, ON. This is a mall store and it's a chain specializing in pool tables, but it advertises itself as a game store and I have bought games from them, so I say it counts.)
MorganWelt (Berlin)

Board Game Cafés:
Snakes & Lattes (Toronto)
Face 2 Face (Toronto)
Roll Play Cafe (Toronto)
Spielweise (Berlin)
The Loft (Ottawa, ON)

The majority of these stores were friendly and welcoming, neutral at worst. If any of them suffer from anything, it's from less than ideal locations. Hairy Tarantula, for example, is a second floor store and definitely looks creepy, but the staff are great. Meeplemart is in the basement of a non-descript building, but once you reach their floor the place looks clean and nice. I remember when I first went to Roll Play Cafe, I wasn't at all sure about climbing up the stairway to the second-story storefront-- I didn't know what I would find at the top!-- but once I got there it was a lovely environment, very chic, and I remember thinking this would be a great place to take non-gamers.

At the busy 401 Games I often have to get the attention of one of their staff, rather than one of them greet me and ask if I need help, but they've never failed to treat me with respect, even when I was new at this (I shop there regularly now). Bosco at the newly-opened Board Game Bliss storefront is so enthusiastic and cheerful I wish I could buy from him more often! I remember MorganWelt in Berlin had a woman manager and she was amazing helping us (at the time, relatively new gamers) pick out some games.

Occasionally I will encounter grumpy staff at some of these stores but that's quite rare these days. By comparison, the comic shops I used to regularly go to (a couple of decades ago, anyway) both in this city and in NJ where I grew up were typically VERY creepy and unfriendly. There is a tiny comic shop in Pickering, ON I tried to give my business to, a few years ago-- and they did sell some board games, but really, they're a comic shop-- but they were so unfriendly and unhelpful I never went back. I have not had anything like that experience at dedicated game stores.

I notice a common complaint is the bathrooms, and at the dedicated game stores I never stay to play so I have no experience with them. But the board game cafés on the list have all had perfectly acceptable bathrooms.

I hope that helps!
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Shaun Morris
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Well, as the OP already drew his conclusion, I think his major quibble is that the conclusion he drew isn't supported by the experiences of the gaming community at large, at least as far as the experiences submitted in this thread are concerned.

And again, if the OP is really looking for the non-gamer impression of gaming stores, then a survey of people on BGG is the absolute wrong place to submit said survey.

Also, stating your conclusion is what's known as guiding the evidence. If you're truly interested in the experiences of others, then you're going to keep an open mind and allow the data collected via this survey to guide you. Forming your opinion and then asking for women's opinions is fairly pointless, one might even argue it's patriarchal and sexist in its own right. The fact that you then began to argue with women who didn't have the experience that you expected them to, trying to explain to them how they're wrong is even more patriarchal as now you've not only formed an opinion on something that you could never truly experience for yourself as a male, you are dictating to women what they've experienced and what their opinions should be. Which becomes patently obvious when one of the women who's experience and opinion you criticized decided that this forum was unwelcoming and unappreciative and extricated herself from further discussion. Ironic, considering that your article is about FLGS's doing the very same. This clearly wasn't you're intent, but it's what you ultimately did.

Based on what I'm reading here, it seems most women have had an overall positive experience with their local FLGS, with the stereotype FLGS, wherein women are condescended to and treated poorly due to their gender being more an exception as opposed to the general rule. Of course, this could be due to small sample size so it's not really possible to draw a definitive conclusion.

Finally, your excluding yourself from further commentary doesn't really help your survey in the least. As the OP and creator of the survey, making yourself available to clarify questions or to answer general questions such as, "Is this limited to stores in the US?" is a genuine benefit and helpful to collecting more accurate data. What's unhelpful and in fact quite harmful to your goal is providing an opinion, whether it be on the topic overall or on someone else's experiences.

Just my two cents.

Full disclosure: I'm a white male and I have no intention of offering up an opinion on women's experience in the gaming community. My comments here are directly aimed at the faults of the OP's methodology.
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Michelle
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marcied wrote:
I've been to a couple stores:

Rainy Day Games in Beaverton, OR
Guardian Games in Portland, OR
Red Castle Games in Portland, OR


Was hoping a fellow Portland-area person would chime in! I'm a woman and definitely a gamer, but I've also been to the various stores below with non-gaming friends, partners, etc.

I think a huge portion of what will make stores uncomfortable for women and/or non-gamers is how much they are geared towards Organized Play events like Magic the Gathering, X-Wing, Warmahordes, etc. Those are usually very boys-club-ish, and since they drive so much of the store's sales, they are treated as a priority. That's where most of the awkward staring or hostility will come from, in my experience. (And to be clear, I played MtG myself for years; I have nothing against those games themselves).

In my hometown, I've been to:
Guardian Games in Portland, OR - Great store, very welcoming, huge. I think at least one of the owners is a woman.
Cloud Cap Games in Portland, OR - pure board game store, so it is suuuuper welcoming to newbies. They sell zero MtG-type stuff. One of the owners is a woman and she's there a lot. Clientele is pretty evenly gender split.
The Portland Game Store in Portland, OR - Nice, clean, small. It may be intimidating to non-gamers because half of the small store is taken up by organized-play type stuff with mostly male gamers, but staff seemed welcoming to me and all the women I saw enter the store.
Red Castle Games in Portland, OR - It's mostly a store that is supported by organized-play events, but it's still fairly welcoming. A lot of queer and trans people come here to game.
Nexus Games, Gresham, OR - definitely a wretched hive of awkwardness and villainy. Pretty much a pure MtG store, super awkward to be there as a lady gamer.

So, all but the last are welcoming.
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Melissa the Gnome
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1. Three (in the last three years).

2. All in/around Milwaukee, WI

3. I would say two are now a D. One was more of a B/C when I first visited five years ago in their previous location. They moved a few years ago and are a lot more welcoming- brighter and more open, staff said hi and was happy to help me find things. The first visit five years ago was kinda awkward (no hello, guys just playing magic and ignored me until I asked to check out), but I went back a number of times because their dice selection is amazing. I forgot about one I stopped in a year ago when I was looking to do some mini painting. They did greet me, but it was kinda awkward (the guy just watched me in a worried that I was going to steal something sort of way, saying nothing) and I left pretty quick.

4.The Board Game Barrister in Milwaukee is pretty awesome. They have 4 locations now. Lots of events. Really nice people. Nice library to rent out and room to play.

5.I've been to game stores all over the US, a few in Canada, one in the UK, a few in France. Overall, my experiences have been very positive. Generally, the staff are helpful and friendly. I've met lots of nice gamers in game stores throughout my travels. Heck, the one store in Caen, France was super helpful and though my french was decent, I didn't know much gaming terminology in french. Most of my game store memories are happy ones.

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Three stores in Tucson, Arizona.

A. Isle of Games: welcoming, well-lit, safe area. Located in a shopping plaza with lots of day traffic (grocery store, French bakery, pet store). It is very much a family game store and a walk-in picks up on that "serves all ages" vibe. Not unusual to see couples, parent and child, in among the hardcore gaming groups. Staff is friendly and engages with everyone on an equal basis.

B. Tucson Games and Gadgets. I first went into this store over a year ago and it felt like a man-cave. Despite appearances, the staff/owner was friendly, welcoming and asked me about my interests; he told me about their programs. They do have a 'ladies gaming night' which the other stores don't offer. In the past six months I've also noticed changes in the store's physical lay-out that improves the lighting and atmosphere. This shopping plaza has less foot traffic, so I'm not sure it gets that "wander in while browse" effect. Adequate parking at the front store.

C. Amazing Discoveries. Large, well-lit shopping area in front, but their parking is an issue. Few spaces in front of store. Most parking is to the rear in an up paved lot. There was broken glass on the dirt lot. I may be safe but are my tires? Furthermore, parking in back means entering through an old loading dock door, vice the well-lit front of store. It didn't look like a man-cave. It was bright, open, clean. But no one on the staff even tried to talk to me. Not even hello. It was no different than going into a big box store. I want to say my impression of the store is neutral. Unfortunately, that parking situation pushes it to an overall negative.

Edit Typos
Edit # 2 All of these stores pass my standards for cleanliness.

Edit # 3 Perhaps check the stores' Facebook pages...it shows what types of gamers go there.

Edit # 4 added after reading other comments. I've been in the hobby less than two years, so my impressions are as a new person coming into the hobby.
What I found most off-putting wasn't from the FLGS, but from individuals (other customers) who perpetuate the stereotype and belittle women at the tables. On the positive side, I'd suggest that these negative males comprise about 3% of the males I've encountered. Let's face it: some people, both male and female, are simply jerks. I don't hold the stores responsible for their customers. Also, I don't hold the FLGS responsible for the artwork of the posters that put women in stereotypes; that fault is on the game industry and publishers.
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Charlotte M-R
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Toronto
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I've been to 2 retail stores, both multiple times - 401 Games and Snakes & Lattes in Toronto, Canada.

I've had very good experiences at both. They have friendly, knowledgeable staff including several women, well lit and clean spaces (S&L is a cafe as well, so I'd HOPE so), and good game selections (401 is usually cheaper though). I make most of the game-buying decisions and I've never felt that someone was trying to speak to my husband instead of me at either store. Despite the Magic presence at 401, I don't feel like the board games are glossed over - they may have a few fewer staff dedicated to them, but there certainly isn't any lack of people to answer questions about or help find games. Neither store is hostile in the slightest.
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1. 3
2. Colorado
3. 1 A, 1 B & 1 D (Barnes & Noble)
4. 2 of the ones I've gone to were local-owned - not impressed with at all - wanted to get out as soon as possible. Barnes & Noble, though is the one I gave answer D. Went to two of their game nights in March - run by a woman - felt very welcome by her as the employee, as well as the others who were there for the game nights. But then, I do consider myself a gamer, so not sure what you meant by "outstanding at welcoming non-gamers, women especially."
5. I am a female gamer, and I really just don't care anymore to go in to the local owned stores. I can usually get what I need online. The two exceptions to this were when I went in to those 2 stores looking for something I couldn't get online, but those experiences made me not want to go back. There are so, so many games out there - if there's something I can't get online, at this point, I will probably skip it anyway.
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Maida F.
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Vallejo
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1. How many retail game stores have you visited in the last three years? An estimate is fine.

(14) Great Escape Games, Randy's House of Games (closed), Bad Zero Games, Gamers Grind (closed), Mages Realm (closed), A1 Comics, Eudemonia, Games of Berkeley, EndGame, Victory Point Cafe (this is a board game cafe but they do sell games, too), Black Diamond Games, Bizarro World, Droms Comics and Cards, Davis Cards and Games.


2. Where were these stores located? Sacramento, CA, Davis, CA, Fairfield, CA, Concord, CA, Berkeley, CA, Oakland, CA


3. In your opinion as a woman, did the majority of these stores have an atmosphere that was A)hostile, B)not hostile, but certainly unwelcoming, C)Neutral, neither welcoming nor unwelcoming, or D)welcoming: to non-gamers, women especially? I hope this succinctly encompasses most perceptions. If none of these describe your experience then you can give a different answer than A through D. But please stick to these four choices if you can as it makes using the data much easier.

Several of these stores have closed down or no longer serve the board game community. Nevertheless -- Where has the staff always welcoming? Great Escape Games, Randys House of Games, Games of Berkeley, Victory Point Cafe, Black Diamond Games. Where have they been hostile? Gamer's Grind, Bizarro World, Drom's Comics and Cards. Unwelcoming but not hostile? Eudemonia and Mages Realm. The rest are neutral.


4. Are there any stores you'd like to shout out as examples of having good or bad atmosphere? For example, a store that was horrible and/or a store that was outstanding at welcoming non-gamers, women especially. See above. When I consider a place welcoming, I say that as a woman who is there to either (a) make a purchase and/or (b) utilize gaming space. Usually both.


5. Any comments you'd like to add that might be included in my article?
Even when places are welcoming, their bathrooms are usually not.
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Kathrin
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marble911 wrote:
Are you interested in stores in the US only, or also in other countries?

Since it doesn't look like I'll be getting an answer to that question, I'll just write about my experiences anyway and let you weed out the data you don't need/want.

I can think of 4 more or less dedicated game stores that I've visited in the last couple of years. Three of them are in Vienna, Austria. One of them was in Brussels, Belgium and seems to have ceased to exist.

Viennese stores:

Store A: The only one I like, and frequently visit.
Do I feel welcome and safe there as a female gamer?
Yes, absolutely. Both the shop owner and the other guy who works there are friendly and respectful towards their customers, irrespective of gender. I haven't felt treated differently because I'm a woman.
Would the shop appeal to me as a non-gamer?
Maybe not. It is small and packed to the brim with games, so if there are several customers in the shop (which is usually the case as it's popular), maneuvering between them and shelves and stacks of games can be difficult. It's also not very brightly lit. Non-gamers might be a bit overwhelmed by the options available, and by the suboptimal presentation.
As a gamer, though, I'd much rather have a multitude of specialist games to choose from, and at competitive prices, than great presentation of fewer options at more expensive prices. I usually know what I'm looking for, or where/how to browse, and if I need help, I know I'll get a polite and helpful answer.
The store just sells games - there is no room to play.
You can subscribe to a newsletter to be told when they get in new titles. They are also actively involved in gaming-related charity events and community building (connecting people looking for/offering RPG groups etc.).

Where I live, lots of gateway games like Ticket to Ride, Catan, various Spiel-des-Jahres nominees and winners as well as Kennerspiel nominees/winners can be bought at bookstore chains and similar (Thalia, Müller) or in the toy section of department stores. Those are usually spacier and better lit, and cater to the needs of non-gamers just fine, I think (except for maybe not having staff that can make decent recommendations). So I'd rather have the specialist stores cater to the needs of enthusiasts, not beginners (they have other options).

Store B: Bigger than A. Looks brighter, friendlier.
But the 2-3 times I went there, I felt ignored/not treated well. No greeting, and when I asked if they had game X last time I was there, the employee, who didn't look too thrilled about having to bother with a customer, said something like "If it's not on the shelves we don't have it." Um, yeah, I did look for it on the shelves, but I'm not that familiar with your (not apparent) systematics as to where to find what, so maybe you are a bit more knowledgable in this area?
When I ask the same question at store A, they'll either look at their inventory on the computer, or get up from their chair and look for it on the shelves.
Also, their prices are usually more expensive than those of store A, and I don't like paying more for worse service.
I think this store has room to play, but I haven't been tempted to try it out.
I don't think my experience at this one had anything to do with gender. The unhelpful employee was female. Several male (potential, or ex-) customers have described similar experiences. On the other hand, one of my female friends even likes the shop, except for it being expensive.
I don't intend to go back there, though, unless I'm desperate.

Store C: Is no longer in business. They were mostly a LARP and RPG shop, with some board and card games on offer. Only went there because that's where an organised play event I used to play in took part. It had a large back room for role playing club nights, and also board game night and organised play. The play area wasn't too well lit and not too clean, but that's probably more the users' fault than the store's.
Playing there was okay - it was more or less a fixed group of people that played in the OP, no random visitors, so I knew what to expect (a mostly male group, except for the organiser's girlfriend and myself).
As for treatment at the store - I don't really remember, so my experience must have been pretty neutral. The biggest problem was that the shop had very little non-LARP/RPG stock, and I had a hard time finding something to buy - which I naturally wanted to do, since I played there. He couldn't even get the packs for the OP we were playing in, while store A could. I'd have paid the premium over A for using their facilities, but since they often couldn't get me anything I was interested in, I wasn't too unhappy when the whole arrangement fell apart and I no longer had to deal with a bad conscience for not buying anything.

Brussels store: The one I visited seems to have closed shop. I can't really comment on service there. The employee appeared friendly enough, and the store looked nicer and brighter than the ones in Vienna. More like a showroom and less of a storage room.

General remarks:
To appeal to me, a game store needs to have a good inventory, friendly/helpful employees (I don't expect them to follow me around, but a greeting and a helpful reply to a question is obligatory- I don't want to feel like I'm bothering them just because I'm there), the option to order items they don't currently stock. It should be in a good location (which, for me, equals accessible by public transport) and prices should be good (a little premium over online is okay - but store A has actually been cheaper than Amazon several times). I want to be treated as a person who games, not as a woman specifically.
I don't need non-gamer friendliness, a shiny display room, or room to play - though I would appreciate all of these, if they didn't negatively impact the above-mentioned points that are more important to me.
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I was about to delete my survey, but it looks like this survey is becoming a thing for the community as it much as it was for the OP.
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