What is The Dragon and Meeple?

Over the past several days I have been pitching potential investors on the idea that is The Dragon and Meeple. Entrepreneurship takes no small measure of hubris and I have been operating over the past 4 months under one premise, “If you build it they will come”.

Of course, if I don’t tell any of you, my prospective customers, what “IT” is, why should you care? The answer is you won’t. I hope to remedy that situation this week. I have built my concept around four pillars and over the next four nights I will detail each of those in a new post.

Monday – Play: If you only read one post, this is it. Everything we will do will be an extension of creating the best possible environment for play.

Tuesday – Product: I can’t compete with the online retailers out there on price, but I can compete on value. I know this will be a tough sell, but I think we are up to the challenge.

Wednesday – Pride: We should all have pride in our identity as gamers. We need to make sure to keep the Friendly right at the front of FLGS. This goes beyond the staff, and extends to cultivating a clientele that creates a fun welcoming environment for all.

Thursday – Prestige: This may seem like an odd word to use when talking about a gaming establishment. My vision for this venture has changed over the past several years but it has never wavered from belief that we, as gamers, can and should demand better.

Chris Buskirk
Owner – Manager
The Dragon and Meeple

The Dragon and Meeple – Part 1 – Play

Tonight I would like to discuss the first pillar in the foundation of The Dragon and Meeple, PLAY.

I had an adviser ask me why I chose play instead of fun. I told him that I can’t sell fun. I can only create an environment that maximizes the potential for play to be fun. Fun is such a subjective concept, that, if I tried to distill it and sell it, I would be just a likely to make things un-fun for many others.

What I can provide is an a place where YOU can create fun.

The first step is building this location from the ground up with gamers in mind.

This starts with lighting. Every table will be well lit with LED lights. Our goal will be maximum visibility without the glare of florescent lights. No one should have to strain their eyes to read a card, or see what color piece was just laid out on the board.

The next step in our build out is addressing sound. One problem, typical of gaming establishments, is the noise. If everyone is having fun, our goal, then things can get loud. If you are playing games in another type of venue you must often deal with other distractions such as music. Starting with the initial build out, and modified as we learn more, sound dampening will be placed throughout the main gaming room, to ensure your focus is on your table.

Finally we need to construct with our customer’s comfort in mind. The majority of our customers are more likely to be sitting down to play for 3 hours than they are for 30 minutes. We will ensure that every seat in the house is comfortable for gamers of all shapes and sizes, no matter how long you want to play. This extends to having clean and accessible facilities.

With a proper build out complete our next focus will be on removing barriers to fun.

Moving beyond just having a large library of games for loan, we will ensure that we carry the newest games and have staff on hand to teach them. You can also count on variety in the game library, not just those games we might think are fun.

Our guests will also find an extensive schedule of organized play for all sorts of tabletop games. Whether you arrive as a group or are going out solo, we will have something planned nearly every night for you to join in on.

The last barrier to fun I would like to address is other customers. We want everyone to have a good time, but that should never come at the expense of others. We will enforce a rigid, but common sense, code of conduct to ensure each of our customers feels welcome and free to enjoy their time at The Dragon and Meeple. We can and will fire staff or customers who create a hostile environment

I hope you will join me tomorrow as I discuss products and the value we hope to provide you.


The Dragon and Meeple – Part 2 – Price

Sorry this post is late, but here is the second pillar of The Dragon and Meeple: Price.

Please note that not all prices have been finalized, and may need to be adjusted before or after we open.

I would have had this up last night, but ironically I was working on financial statements most of the night. I’m trying to figure out exactly how many games and burgers I need to sell to keep the lights on, keep my employees happy, and pay myself enough to keep my apartment. I have one more group of people to keep happy, and that’s my investors. Each one of them is passionate about games and shares my vision, but they are sinking a lot of money into this place and deserve a return on that investment.

Since our first goal it to provide you a great space to play, we will need to provide lots of it. That space is very expensive. We will have a base cover charge of $5 to play games. That cover charge can however be discounted or waived. At the discretion of management your cover can be discounted based on your tab and how long you have played. If you buy lunch and play cards, we don’t want to charge you as much as we do a patron who has played for 8 hours.

Of course if you are a member, you will never pay a cover charge.  Memberships will be reserved for patrons who make retail purchases at The Dragon and Meeple. If you make a retail purchase of $50 or more you are entitled to a 1 month membership. Membership doesn’t just waive your cover charges. Members have priority in reserving tables, exclusive use of our private rooms, and priority on game pre-sales. Other membership perks are in the works and will be announced at our convention.

As I said Sunday, we can’t compete with the big online retailers on price, however I hope that the value we provide with memberships and play space will make us your first choice for hobby gaming purchases.

I can’t yet speak to the prices of our food and drinks. I am currently searching for a general manager and head chef. Once I have them in place I can give more details on our menu. I do plan on a menu with items for patrons in many price ranges.

The Dragon and Meeple – Part 3 – Pride

Tonight I want to talk about the third pillar of The Dragon and Meeple, Pride. Not every gamer is a nerd, but as a whole, we tend towards nerdier tendencies. Think pieces abound on the internet about how it is the “Age of the Geek”, and how it’s cool to be a nerd. Even as Hollywood and pop culture in general co-opt our fandoms and hobbies, you still see the subtle eye roll or veiled disdain when someone doesn’t share our interests.

Tabletop gaming holds an even smaller niche within this greater community of nerds and geeks. Despite it’s relatively small size, one of my favorite things about this community is it’s diversity. I don’t just mean racial, gender, religious, or sexual diversity. The diversity of interests among those friends I have made while gaming has been unparalleled against any other community I have ever been a part of. This diversity is reflected in the breadth of themes explored in tabletop games.

We can take pride when we beat our opponents at the table with a skillful play of the cards. We can take pride in losing because we learned a new strategy for the future. We can take pride when we work together to slay a dragon. We can take pride when we sit across the table from a stranger and make a new friend.

What we should never do is allow that pride to become arrogance. We should never be exclusionary in who we let into our community. An ugly side to many nerdy fandoms, is to label others, especially women, as ‘fake’ fans. We need to recognize that each of us brings our own experiences and our own motivations into this hobby. We should never judge those motivations or those tastes. It’s OK if someone likes Monopoly. Really it is people.

As an organization we have great amount of pride in being gamers. Our pride will be seen in employees who will never judge you for your choice in games or your choice in beer. This will be seen in a clean and organized store with bathrooms that aren’t filthy. We will show our pride with events that celebrate our shared community as gamers, as nerds, and as Angelenos.

Most of us have faced exclusion at some point in our lives. We need to stand together and welcome all who wish to compete with us. We at The Dragon and Meeple hope to welcome you with pride into our community later this year.

The Dragon and Meeple – Part 4 – Prestige

The last pillar in the foundation of The Dragon and Meeple is Prestige. This week I was reviewing the business plan I developed attempting to create a country club for gamers . In the mission statement I wrote, “We will promote inclusiveness in a market segment that has traditionally relied on exclusivity.”.

While my vision has scaled back somewhat from these earlier concepts, my desire to elevate the gaming experience here in Los Angeles has not. I instead decided I wanted to bring that quality to as many gamers as I could. In my article on play I talked about addressing issues that detract from the experience at other venues. Now I want to talk about what will elevate The Dragon and Meeple to the next level.

We will look beyond vending machines and simple sandwiches. Our kitchen will provide a full lunch and dinner menu on weekdays, and a brunch menu on weekends. We will even have Second Brunch for all you halflings out there. To accompany this menu we will provide craft beer and wine pairings with a focus on local offerings.

All of us have looked on in horror as our wait staff carelessly dropped food off on top of our games. First off, our wait staff would never do that. Secondly they will never need to, because all food and drinks will be served on trays like you would find in a casino poker room. It’s a simple thing, developed from the core focus on accommodating the needs of gamers. Most of our menu will likewise be designed around keeping everyone’s hands clean. You will have to get your hot wing fix elsewhere.

Within a few months of the launch we will be introducing a mobile app which will allow greater interaction with the club and other members. Paired with the app will be a rewards system that doesn’t just give points for purchases, but for contributing to our community by teaching games and participating in organized play.

We hope to set a new standard for gaming in this city. You can and should demand better. Each time we make a choice we will ask if our methods enhance your play experience. We will welcome your feedback, and work to give you the premier gaming destination you deserve.

Chris Buskirk