Pegasus Games, a longtime fixture of the Madison, Wisconsin gaming scene, closed its doors this weekend after over 39 years in business.  The original Pegasus Games store was founded in 1980, a second store was opened in 1989, and the first store closed in 1997, leaving the second location to open as the sole store for the rest of the company’s history.

The business was offered for sale in August, and when no buyers materialized, a liquidation sale was held which concluded this weekend.  ICv2 talked to owner Lori Aitken about the changes she’d seen in the games business over her time in it.

ICv2: Why are you closing?
I want to retire.  I'm not my own target demographic anymore, that's just a hard thing to swallow.  I think I don't understand modern marketing that seems to involve these devices that some people seem to have glued to their hands for the rest of their life.  I don't want that, so I don't know how to reach out to that.

What are some of the positive changes you’ve seen in the games business in the time you’ve been in business?
Game quality has gone up significantly, especially board games, because now almost every game has to have pieces.  You don't have small cardboard chits anymore.  Granted, this makes games more expensive but people seem willing to pay for the greater tactile‑ness of the game and the attractiveness of the game.

Any other positive changes?
The number has gone up.  I'm not sure if that's for good or for ill.

When we first opened, we prided ourselves on trying one of everything just so we could see what it's like and not miss some sort of gem that we would have otherwise not looked at. We couldn't do that anymore.  There's not enough money or room.  We’ve had to be much more selective.

I'm amazed at the number of roleplaying games that that haven't died away or concentrated just into a couple of titles.

Miniatures are amazing now compared to 40 years ago.

Quality, number or both?
Quality, mostly, as more of the materials were tried.

One thing we didn't talk about, which didn't exist when you started and has certainly changed the business, and that's collectible games.  You must have seen the first Magic: The Gathering set come out.
True.  I remember thinking that was the stupidest idea I'd ever heard of.

Why did you think it was stupid?
I just thought it was unnecessary.  A game is either really great or not, or it appeals to certain people and not others.  It seemed like a needless gimmick.

When they started doing a pro circuit, I thought it was going to be the end of gaming as I knew it, but it does not seem to have been the case.

What about the customers, have those changed?
We're seeing a lot more casual gamers and/or parents and grandparents who want to get youngsters off of their little thumb games and devices.

Any negative changes that you've seen in the business?
At first, I thought their whole idea of Catan and Ticket to Ride and others going mass market would be a horrible negative.  It has, in fact, sent some people to other stores once they realize they actually like games that make them think.  They want to get the expansions to games they have, and they aren't available mass market, but only in specialty stores.

I'm sure it has taken some people away.  Some people will only ever shop at the mass market stores like Target, etc., for games.  Others are driven to the specialty stores. It's a two‑edged sword.

Any other reflections on almost four decades of selling games?
We've seen big changes in the gender disparity of gamers.  My first Gen Con, my husband says I was only one of two women that weren't behind the counters.  He cited like Gary Gygax's daughters, a couple of disgruntled wives, and the Metagaming girls.

Now there's a lot more women involved in gaming and I'm tickled to death about that.  I mean, there's a long way to go, as Gamergate showed, but it's better than it was.