Future of the Play Area

COVID-19, news, pandemic, Play Area, safety -

Future of the Play Area

by: Gino Marinaro

Here’s another blog concerning COVID-19. This one relates directly to the play area in our store.

You’re likely aware that we’ve decided to keep the play area closed for public use for the foreseeable future. What will the play area, and use of the play area, look like when we do reopen it? We really don’t know. However, we are exploring some options to try to figure some of that out before we get to the point of reopening.

We don’t see hosting organized play in the form of tournaments for quite some time. The thought of a Magic, or any other card game, tournament where people sit close, either to their opponent or the next match where they might be elbow to elbow just seems out of the question. So, any tournament of any size would take up an enormous amount of space. Add to that, players would complete a match, and then move to a new location, where someone else just got done playing. The idea of satisfactorily sanitizing these spaces doesn’t seem practical.

We don’t know when we’ll start up the D&D sessions, either. Getting a random group around a table, especially with the numbers we were drawing pre-COVID, seems like an unlikely thing to try to do. Even a single RPG group might take up a very large area if you are going to social distance the players.

So, those are a couple of things that probably won’t happen for a long time. The question then turns to what can we do and when? The when is a very smoky crystal ball. There are way too many variables to venture a guess as to when we’ll get the play area open for even small, casual play again.

We’ve done some experimenting in the play area to see if games can be played while social distancing. We believe it can be done, with certain restrictions and precautions. The use of masks, gloves, liberal use of sanitizer for hands and surfaces among them. From there, it might depend on the type of game being played. Let’s look at a few types of game that could be played. Keep in mind, nothing is set in stone, but we think some can be played in relative safety.

First, let’s look at deck vs. deck card games. This would include games such as Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon. We think this is the toughest type of game to play and adhere to any distance guidelines. The need to see your opponent’s field means that being 6’ away isn’t very practical. Perhaps it could be done, but it presents a great challenge.

How about 2-player miniatures games? They would include Malifaux, or any of the Star Wars Miniatures games. This seems more viable than a card game. The mini’s can be more easily seen than cards from a distance. If the game is played over the length of the table rather than the width, or if 2 tables are put together, distance can be maintained. Only one player would be allowed over the map at a time, and you only handle your own pieces.

Now, let’s consider board games or card games played with a central area. In order to distance the players, you need to have extra table space set up. If you were to put 3 tables together, with the board on the middle table, distance can be maintained. You’d have to limit the number of players to four. Any more than that and you have to add tables, or lose safe distancing. Sure, it’s a bit inconvenient, but it’s a way to play in relative safety. Only one person would be allowed over the board at a time. You could also limit the number of people that touch the board or pieces.

Finally, we’ll take a look at role-playing games. Distancing is not as inconvenient for an RPG, except when you have miniatures on the table. “Theater of the mind,” works quite nicely when social distancing. Other precautions, similar to board gaming need to be considered when you’ve got the dudes on the map. A large number of players would take up a lot of space. That may or may not pose an issue, depending on whether or not there is any other game going on at the same time.

We think these things will work to provide a relative safe environment for playing in our play area. We’d have to limit the number people per game, and the total number of players and spectators in the room at any given time. With these, and other safety precautions, we think we’ll open our play area for casual play sometime down the road.

Please, tell us what you think.


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