A few weeks ago I had a serious low and it showed…pretty much everywhere. The reason why I actually say everything that is on my mind is to show transparency and that I am not a mindless drone who just works for the money or whatever other material things. In order to survive I need to make money, of course, but being a human comes first. I mentioned that I want to hire someone for the store. I am glad to say that from December on, the Arena will be open from 11:00 to 20:00 from Tuesday to Saturday. I will work from 15:00 to 20:00 for now and Bastian will work in the mornings. I need to get a load off my back and this definitely is a step in the right direction. Improvements on every front will slowly become visible. Honestly, I was hoping that I could do a lot more, but I severely underestimated the amount of energy that everything has drained from me.

The 2015 Commander Release was about two weeks ago on Friday and I wanted to see more people show up then last year for the previous set. I actually want more people for the FNMs in general as well. I am getting really sick and tired of reading about so many stores who have a booming MtG community who always show up for the FNMs, all the while here, if you listen closely, you can clearly hear…..*Cra….cra…*. Emptiness of the empty. I already talked about this in a previous post. Maybe people are busy, maybe they don’t have money to participate, maybe this, maybe that. Perhaps people have no idea what FNM is. I mean, when Path to Exile and Serum Visions were given out as FNM promos, so few people showed up…It could be that a lot of people understand FNM as a highly competitive tournament, which in fact isn’t.

I have a theory for the lack of presence in my shop as well. It could be that I am very far off with this, but here goes. Being labeled as a geek, weirdo, has-no-life, etc. This city is relatively big, but not big enough I would say. I saw someone post an entry on facebook because he is hyped about Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void. The first response that he got? “Are you a virgin?”. People like that have no idea and severely misunderstand games and gamers in general. Perhaps you have read a post in the Arena Games FB Group about some dudes who have nothing better to do than come to the store, open the door, scream and run away. People like this think that because the Arena is a game store, that must definitely mean that there are only geeks inside who can’t say or do anything, that can’t react in any way, that these geeks will just shut up and be the butt of the everyone’s jokes all the time. Not sure if this is even close to the actual reason of people not being here on Fridays, but it could easily be for true for some who don’t want to be labeled as…gaming enthusiasts 🙂

The lack of people in the shop is actually not something new, but ironic. I speak to various people about this who come to the shop and are like: “It’s just Ingolstadt. It has always been like this.” I am really trying not to give into that, although at times I lose faith in this city completely. At the huge amount of people in the city who actually play magic, it’s unthinkable that a few players can’t find enough people to play a booster draft once per week. Only 2-3 people show up for the draft and then wait around for a bit, then leave disappointed. They are probably thinking to themselves: “Why did I even bother coming? Nobody ever shows up.” And that’s true. It’s a miracle if there are actually 8 people to draft (including me of course). Sigh….maybe, just maybe…it will work out. Somehow, someday 🙂 If anyone has any ideas how to get people into…socializing with others at a magic event, please message me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

When I used to work at Ghosthouse, I tried really hard to push booster drafts. It worked for a little while, but then it died out. That was mostly because there weren’t enough players around to have a constant flow of people. Sometimes you miss a draft, sometimes you play. But there should always be people around for a draft if that is draft day.

Ok. 2 years later I open the Arena, heralding a new era for the Ingolstadt gaming community: more tournaments, a broader range of products, displays, boosters on stock 90% of the time, FNMs, etc. People are still frozen into this playing privately mentality. I get that it’s more comfortable to play at home with friends and listen to the music that you like, eat, drink, smoke, etc. whitout being bothered by other random people. I also did that, but I guess the difference is that I kind of grew up with a game shop and have always liked looking through new binders and finding new cards, playing against new opponents and learning new tactics, seeing new decks and strategies. Every pre-release at the Arena there are 25+ people and that’s really great! Everyone has a good time and everyone plays, but why doesn’t anyone think: “Wow…we could have this every Friday for FNM. Meeting people and having a laugh, playing a game or in a tournament”. Instead there are people travelling to other cities to play in FNMs. I don’t mind that people are going to other places, it’s normal to try different tournaments. I am just unhappy because the people who actually want to play don’t have enough options here in their hometown and are eventually forced to travel farther to enjoy one evening of Magic or YGO!.

Where is everyone and why don’t you come to play in the Arena? Is it that bad there? If there are things that bother you I would really like to know so that I can improve things.

I should explain the meaning of the title though. Maybe I jumped the gun and actually started too big, too soon. There are 32 seats in the Arena, with the possibility of putting more tables inside to reach around 44 seats. That is a huge upgrade from the previous store, but I think that upgrade wasn’t needed. I assumed that people would want to come back to play and that the tournament participants would gradually grow in numbers. That didn’t happen. This time last year was the same situation as it is now.

Conclusion: nothing has changed. The Arena has failed in its quest to attract sufficient players to establish a strong gaming community in the city of Ingolstadt during its first year of existence. I know this is not what people want to read about. But I am not going to plasture a smile on my face and say that it’s not like that, that things are actually going ok. Because they aren’t.

Solution: start from 0, a year later. By that I mean, focus on getting new players entirely, who have no idea what trading card games are. I have been trying to please the existing community of TCG players in and around Ingolstadt, but that has not worked as I expected it to. Happens.

What now?

Looking forward to 2016. The past year has been experiences that I have learned from. I am stronger now and I can now see things better, clearer. I see my own faults and work on becoming a better person and a better businessman.

In the end it’s all about you. It has always been about you: the new chairs, the big TV, the tournaments, the Black Friday discount, the ventilators when it was too hot, the drinks that I dilligently put into the fridge for you to cool down. It’s my job and my responsibility. I knew what kind of road will await me the moment I took the first step. And I am happy, regardless of everything that has been said and written.

I am living my tiny dream.

 

See you in the Arena!