Last week, well known board game reviewer Tom Vasel, co-founder and host of The Dice Tower podcast, expressed opinions regarding brick and mortar retail stores that led the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) to release a statement condemning his statements:

“In recent media activity, there have been personal statements released that aren't conducive to our philosophy and do not align with GAMA’s mission. We value our retailer members and actively support their efforts for the hobby.

“GAMA was very disappointed. To quote the mission statement, ‘The Game Manufacturers Association serves to promote its member’s common interest—to increase the adoption and engagement with hobby games.’ We stand by that statement and encourage you, as a community, to support the industry and uphold this mission.

“Our hobby industry has seen significant growth—much of that effort stems from the collaboration, efforts, strategies, and innovation put forth by professionals in our market.

“It is crucial that we, as professionals, work together to continue the advancement of hobby gaming.”

The Vasel comments that drew GAMA’s response were in the “Tom Thinks” segment of the “Board Game Breakfast” YouTube video posted on October 2, which had around 21,000 views as of this writing.  In it, Vasel expressed some controversial views about “Saving the Local Game Store,” arguing that online retailers were worthy of support.  “I’m going to talk about online game stores because they’re supporting the entire country/world with what they do, and so do we here at the Dice Tower,” he said.

In his seven minute commentary, Vasel listed reasons why he did not think it was the players/customers’ responsibility to keep local game stores in business. “I want to make clear here that I am for Friendly Local Game Stores (FLGS), I really want the good ones to succeed. Although, to be honest, the ones that aren’t doing good, the ones that don’t do a good job of promoting the hobby, I really don’t care if they succeed or not. I don’t feel they should be supported simply because they exist.”

He went on to say he was wary of this movement to “save the local game stores,” and went through arguments in favor of supporting local game stores and refuted them one by one.  The arguments for supporting brick and mortar stores, along with Vasel’s comments in the video: 

Stores provide a community for gaming and if players don’t support them, the community will go away. “Hogwash to the second part,“ Vasel said, arguing that plenty of areas without LGS have a gaming community.

The game store promotes new games, it is where people discover new games. “Yeah, that was something in the 80s, he argued.  “Now we learn about new games from all different sources, mostly online.”

Game stores get new people into the hobby. “Many more people these days are getting into it through other ways,” Vasel said.  “…Talk to someone under the age of 30 and they will almost never hear that.”

The online destruction of stores. “The one thing I say to local game stores, ‘if you want me to shop there, you have to make me want to shop there.’”

Game Demos. Vasel argued that most stores don’t demo, and there are online videos that explain how games are played, as well as apps.

Game stores offer community. He argued that other customers may not be inclusive and friendly.

“This sounds like I’m going on a rant against local game stores,” Vasel acknowledged. “I’m not. Every time I go to a new city, I want to go to the local game stores.”  Regardless of his protestations, his commentary was definitely perceived as an attack on the channel, leading to the GAMA response. 

Correction, October 12, 2017, 1:30 CT.  We inaccurately reported that Dice Tower has common ownership with Cool Stuff Games brick and mortar stores and online retailer Cool Stuff Inc.  Dice Tower Con (for which the name is licensed from Dice Tower) has common ownership with Cool Stuff; and are Tom Vasel's and do not share ownership with Cool Stuff.  Our apologies for the confusion.