October 04, 2013 / by Eric

Let me begin by enthusiastically announcing that we’re going to be having our One Year Anniversary Party in 2 weeks on Friday, October 18th at the Raygun Lounge and we’re going to push very hard to fulfill on all of our Kickstarter rewards when we do so.

I know and respect that most backers of the Lounge are feeling some mix of excitement-anticipation-impatience (some verging on anger) about finally getting your awesome Kickstarter swag. In retrospect, we made a ton of mistakes. I made a ton of mistakes. Some of them now glaringly apparent – like thinking that I would be able to fund and build an entire lounge, keep it going and fulfill on all of my outrageous Kickstarter rewards within a single month. Obviously, looking back, we were ridiculously optimistic to have promised that.

But then, we were ridiculously optimistic about the whole damn project from soup to nuts back in that glorious spring of 2012. After having backed some crazy Kickstarter projects ourselves, (and even after watching them face their own untested and unforeseen obstacles; Axe in My Head & Your Art Card Sleeves your tenacity in the face of obstacle after obstacle is an inspiration to us all) Kickstarter still seemed like a fantastic way to raise start-up funds, raise awareness, and share the adventure that only running and being part of a small, bold DIY local venture can provide, all at the same time. And it was. And I love what we do at Gamma Ray and I love sharing about how we do it. Even the messy, sometimes disorganized, learn-as-we-go side of it. Especially the messy, sometimes disorganized, learn-as-we-go side of it. And that’s why I was, and continue to be, wholeheartedly supportive of the whole idea behind Kickstarter, both how it works and how it sometimes doesn’t.

That said, as both a personal and professional backer of a number of long-delayed Kickstarter projects, I can very much sympathize with the bitter-sweetness of waiting for overdue kickass Kickstarter swag. On the one hand, the crazy updates can be pretty fun to read, on the other, I still someday hope to get or see the actual thing that inspired my monetary backing in the first place.

Which is why I am so ongoingly humbled by and grateful for your patronage and patience. And which is why in two weeks on Friday, October 18th we will invite you to come out to the lounge that you built so that we can say thank you one more time. And we’re pushing very hard to fulfill on all of the Kickstarter rewards, once and for all, by this event. Will we achieve this goal? No. Absolutely not. I’ve learned enough over the past year to say that we will do our absolute best. We will use all of the money that our modest operating budget allows us to order shirts, underwear, dice and lockers. We will use all of the time that our modest schedule allows us to finish the Wall of Awesome and table logo laser insets. We will do all that we can to have your t-shirts and underwear and cups and glasses ready, your name on the wall where we said it would be and your locker ready for you with good music and compelling art and your friends all here and we’ll make it warm and nice, all while keeping the doors open 6 days a week for over a year now through thick and thin, surprise after surprise. And we will fail. I don’t know how yet. But something isn’t going to arrive in time. Some application method isn’t going to work. Someone’s mom is going to get sick and they’re going to have to leave on short notice.

And when that happens, and I only have 4 out of the 5 things that I’ve yet again promised in spite of yet again not knowing how we’re going to do it all and daring yet again to try anyway, and you point it out to me as if I don’t already know, I’m going to smile, with great sincerity, and tell you that it’s on its way soon and that we’re working on it. And the sincerity will be real because we are. We’re doing the best that we can. And I know that we’re doing the best that we can because I love doing the best that I can and I love inspiring others to do the best that they can. And that’s why I do this. And that’s why I picked Kickstarter. And that’s why I hope that you picked us.

And if it isn’t why you picked us and you’re disappointed in our or my performance, I’m sorry. But I’m not sad. Because I’m proud of us. Because I’m proud of what we did and what we’re doing. I’m proud that while we were late on our t-shirts and still haven’t found a custom dice company that’s easy to work with, we actually built a friendly local game store and a gaming lounge where you can enjoy yourself six days a week. From scratch! And we now have a staff of six kickass employees to respond to your calls and emails directly, assist you in your gaming explorations, and honestly respond to you about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And if we hadn’t have made all of those mistakes along the way, and if I wasn’t willing to be told, to my face and online by strangers, all of the mistakes that I made and the ways that I’d failed them personally, we never could’ve gotten here.

And that’s why I do it. Not for the accolades. Not for the money. But because I love our diverse, local, Capitol Hill community of gamers, creatives, nerds and geeks of all stripes, genders and orientations. And I love bringing them together to collaborate and do things that we’ve never done together before.

So come out with me in two weeks. Come out and celebrate. Come out and celebrate everything that we did and everything thing that we didn’t do. Come out and celebrate what we’re going to try to do next and what we’re going to do along the way in spite of ourselves. Come out and celebrate the mistakes that we’ve yet to be bold and brave enough to make together yet, but someday will be. Bring your hopes and your dreams and I’ll bring mine and we’ll throw them all out on the tables that we had to custom build to be big enough to fit them all. And we’ll mix them all together and we’ll make something amazing. And we’ll call it our lounge.

Happy Anniversary, everybody. I can’t wait to see you again.

-Eric

August 20, 2013 / by Eric

With Summer gliding gracefully into fall (it is, don’t fight it, Autumn’s beautiful too), I thought it was time for a quick update- in 4 parts (what can I say, we’ve got a lot going on)!

PAX

PAX is right around the corner and we will again have a booth in room 305 loaded with indie RPGs and story games to support our BFFs, the Games on Demand crew. We’ll also have convention exclusives & specials and limited edition free beer coupons so come on down and visit us!

And speaking of free beer, we’ll be holding special events at the Raygun Lounge all PAX Weekend long, including our 2nd Annual PAX Pink Party (remember last year’s party where we didn’t have lights installed yet? Epic.) and a Monday night event featuring special guests like Supercommuter that we’re putting together with the Cipher Crew that I’ll talk more about soon.

Kickstarter

We’re still grinding away on fulfilling all of our Kickstarter rewards and are currently in the process of finalizing the Wall of Awesome and the personal lockers. If you’re in town for PAX and would like to pick up your rewards, we have your cups, pint glasses and some of your shirts and underwear ready. Strangely, the custom D20s have turned out to be the most difficult thing to try to obtain. If you know of any companies or individuals willing and able to make a few hundred custom dice, tell them to email me (gammaragamestore at gmail.com, feel free to use it yourself!) because we’re not getting anywhere with the usual suspects.

Gamma Ray Games

With the seasonal transition (seriously, you’ve just got to accept it. Yes, it was the most beautiful summer we’ve ever seen, but this Autumn really is going to be beautiful too. Remember those long September evenings? Yeah…) comes our annual personnel turnover. And this year that turnover involves our very own Andrew taking his sword and and wandering into the mysterious wilds of the Commercial Real Estate Kingdom.

I don't why all of our employees look like samurai when they leave. Probably has something to do with our awesome training methods.

Which one of you bastards misplaced my TPS reports?

Though we’ll miss Andrew, we’re pretty stoked to not only have Aric step in, but with the lounge and Kickstarter finally coming together, I’m particularly excited to announce that I’ll be coming back to the counter on a regular basis as well.

Starting in September, I’ll be behind the counter at least every Tuesday and Sunday and probably more depending upon Aric’s school schedule so come on in and see me some time. I’ll be the one in sweet ass blue cape.

Did you miss me, baby?

I mean, seriously. Have you seen this thing?

The Raygun Lounge

Though it’s taken us almost a year (I’ll announce our September anniversary plans soon), we’ve stabilized the lounge, built a kitchen and got a consistent, awesome, team in place.

Lest you have any doubts about their awesomeness, here is lounge team leader Kerry as he appears in the EMP's LARP exhibit. Say, did I mention the Seattle Weekly's award for 'Best Place in Seattle to meet Single Men'? Just sayin.'

Lest you have any doubts about their awesomeness, here is lounge team leader Kerry as he appears in the EMP’s recent LARP pictorial. Say, did I mention that we just won the Seattle Weekly’s award for ‘Best Place in Seattle to meet Single Men‘? Just sayin.’

Now we’re in the process of ensuring that everyone get equal access in a way that allows us to grow and expand our hours and offerings.

To that end, we’ve implemented our new paid reservation system. If you or friends would like to reserve one of our massive 8 top tables for your personal gaming, they’re available for $20/hour minus the cost of any food or beverages purchased by you and your party so reserve space with confidence and throw yourself your own private party.

And that’s it from me. I’ve gotta get back to work but I look forward to seeing you soon,

-Eric

November 30, 2012 / by Eric

I’m thrilled to announce that as of 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, The Raygun Lounge has an official Washington state license to sell beer, wine, ale, cider and mead. Yes, mead. This means that tonight’s (Friday, 11/30) invite-only event (a Kickstarter reward for everyone who backed us at the “Soft Opening” level) will indeed feature the very first time we’ll be serving beer. First shipments are arriving tomorrow afternoon in time to be chilled before our guests’ arrival.

The flipside of this stellar news is that as of 5 p.m. tonight – just mere hours from now – The Raygun Lounge becomes an exclusive 21+ establishment. We’re in talks with our new neighbors, the Black Coffee Co-op, to provide alternative gaming event options for our fans and friends under the age of 21. We’ll release more details on that exciting collaboration once we sleep off tomorrow’s inevitable hangover.

September 19, 2012 / by Eric

One of the main things that I’ve learned to love about roleplaying games is sub-optimal decision making. Because while, yes, you could form a perfectly executed plan utilizing all of your team’s key bonuses and attributes and attack your enemy from a 45 degree angle perfecting the flanking move you’ve been leveling towards for the past 6 months, you could also take your younger brother’s suggestion, dress up like goats and try to infiltrate the local Shepherd Association’s Druid Circle festival to learn about the secret entrance that he’s somehow sure that they’re going to know about.

Now, I don’t know about you, but, as a viewer, I’m going to vote goats. Which scene in the Schwarzenegger Conan film do you remember? The one where he fought and killed that giant snake? Or the one where he punched out the camel? The camel! You know it’s the camel. That and maybe when he threw that naked witch in the fire. Not the choreographed fight scenes which, supposedly, were the important parts. Hell, those unexpected side moments are what the only roleplaying game ever to be featured on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop is all about.


Fiasco, ladies and gentlemen, the Cohen Brothers-esque game of “high ambition and poor impulse control.”

I’m reminded of my love of intentionally sub-optimal decision making by two things this week.

First, by one of the Kickstarter-pledge-fulfillment roleplaying campaigns that I started on Sunday. When I wrote that pledge level in, I was afraid that I was going to get roped into running a very by-the-numbers high fantasy game about a quest for a ring. Oh, sorry, I meant a sword. Or something… I could never have even dared to conceive that I would be given the opportunity to run an Apocalypse World campaign about a traveling carnival of firebreathing androgynous transgendered sex cultists. That freakishly amazing campaign concept sprung whole cloth out of the players’ commitment to let one player choose all of their characters for them based on “whatever he thought would make them most uncomfortable.” While credit for this unique and memorable experience is certainly due in no small part to Vincent Baker’s brilliant game

I mean, just look at thing. Even in its natural environment it just oozes freaky.

it was really the players’ commitment to not just participate but revel in a sub-optimal decision making process that created us an amazing cast and setting that are going to be easy to have tons of fun rollicking through together.

And secondly, when I realized that I’d misunderstood the King County Health Department’s venue licensing guidelines and that I wasn’t going to be able to unveil my new hot food menu this Thursday. I’ve got a great menu lined up for you with a range of fun, tasty, easy to prepare items that are going to look great on our over-the-top square plates and before I can serve them to you, I have to go put on my goatskin and go punch out a camel.

Are we still opening? Hell yes. Let’s do this thing. Will there be a full bar? There won’t even be a kitchen. At least not one that I can legally serve you food out of. But let’s open doors anyways. Let’s do it sub-optimally and just see what happens. Because I know how Disney does it. I know how the Cheesecake Factory does it. And they’re boring. They cardboard the windows to ensure that you never see their laborers, they insure their insurance. But you, you lucky devil you, you get the full deal that I always promised. I’m building the place. I’m building it three steps forward and one step to the right with an occasional jump to the left.

Oh yeah. Are you feeling that?

And I’m bringing you along for the ride. Will it be bumpy? I hope so. Otherwise I’m going to look ridiculous in this goatskin.

mmm. fresh chupacabra.

We open doors this Thursday with what we’ve got. Amenities ranging from credit card processing to an accurate public calendar will follow as fast as they can and as slow as they do. I still project that we’ll be done with the place in about three years. Was this the most direct route that we could have taken to get here? No. We could have spent a lot more time talking to banks and a lot less time talking to you. I hope that you appreciate our choice to share with you our highly public and, at times, sub-optimal decision-making as much as we enjoy ongoingly making it.

I’ll see you at the lounge,

-Eric

August 26, 2012 / by Eric

The initial buildout projects are nearly complete thanks to the super human speed, efficiency and focus of Nick, Jensen and Dominic. And not a moment too soon with Wednesday’s big Lounge preview event just around the corner. An important note about Wednesday’s event – it does NOT require an invite and IS totally open to the public. The private, invite-only founders party advertised as part of our Kickstarter backer rewards will be happening in September when we’ll have all the pledge rewards ready to go – stay tuned.

Nick and Jensen do an amazing job on a tight timeline.

And just when we thought things were as busy as they could get, this upcoming week we triple the stakes! In addition to continuing to develop the lounge (upgrading the lighting, installing the sound system, establishing new vendor relationships, forwarding the licensing process, etc), we’ll be hosting FIVE special pre-opening PAX events (some open to the public, some not- stop by and ask if you’re not sure). AND we’ll be building and running our amazing Gamma Ray Games booth inside PAX itself (located in glorious room 305/306 this year- stop by and say hi!).

I will be bouncing between all three locations (store, lounge, PAX) from about 10:30am until around 10:30pm every day for the next 10 days or so, keeping everything moving and trying not to get in the way. If you have any questions feel free to flag me down or ask one of the team. Just know that if it’s me, both the question and the answer will need to be short and I’ll probably be walking or working while we talk. Heck, some of the last people that stopped by to chat with me wound up helping unload a trailer full of benches with a lawyer and a Pentecostal pastor. You just never what’s going to happen around here. Which is why, for the next ten days or so, I’m going to be around a LOT.

Eric and Dominic plot their cunning next move.

See you soon,

-Eric

August 04, 2012 / by Eric

A startling expose by game store owner Eric Logan.

Tabletop gaming encompasses a surprisingly wide range of genres including (but certainly not limited to) European style boardgames, American style boardgames, party games, mystery games, cooperative semi-cooperative and one versus many games, classic games and ancient games, abstract games, train games, war games of numerous complexity levels each with their own devoted fanbase, simulations of various kinds from historical to fantasy, custom dice games, collectible miniature and collectible card games, roleplaying and story games. Each of these genres can be further divided into multiple sub-genres and some of these sub-genres, like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering, are so large and popular that they’ve become full genres in their own rights with even further sub-genres unto themselves. Dungeons & Dragons alone, for example, has at least 6 different editions and multiple retro knock offs, all of which have their own unique audiences and Magic the Gathering has a number of different formats and rule sets each drawing a different type of player.

Every tabletop gamer, even the most well rounded (like all of our employees), has a bias towards a particular game or type of game; usually something from their past, some initial gateway game or genre that they will inevitably tend to compare other games to and gravitate back to even as they expand their gaming interests.

My personal bias is toward roleplaying games (commonly abbreviated as RPGs). I got started on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with my dad when I was 8 years old

and have enjoyed exploring new roleplaying systems ever since. Though I’m familiar with and enjoy playing every type of game that we carry at Gamma Ray Games, my inclination is always toward the new small press RPGs.

And so it was that 2 weeks ago while I was rapidly putting together our Kickstarter page for a space that I knew was going to freely support all of the myriad types of tabletop gaming as well as some non tabletop activities like trivia nights, Barcraft and possibly a even a recently proposed rockband karaoke event, I reached out to the indie RPG community for pledge reward commitments first because I knew from our history of collaborating together for events like PAX, Emerald City Comic Con & GoPlayNW that they would respond quickly and be great to work with. And indeed they were.

But bias has consequences and while monitoring our kickstarter progress for the past couple of weeks I’ve discovered two. First, I’ve received a couple of emails from people who saw our kickstarter page and we’re worried that we intend to exclude/ignore their aspect of the hobby, to which I always respond with a clear and sincere “woops! my bad! we’re totally into your thing too,” because I know that the store and the lounge have been and will continue to be about the greater tabletop gaming community of which I and my personal biases are only one small part.

Second, and possibly more importantly from a Huttese perspective, it’s occurred to me that not having more non-rpg gaming options may have limited some peoples willingness to pledge and that, of course, is a barrier that we simply cannot have. In response I’ve just added the new completely-non-roleplaying-related “boardgame night with Jake Waltier” pledge level for you and your friends. And a… (cough) uh, couple of, uh, new RPG levels as well (cough).

Look, the new RPG rewards weren’t my fault, alright? The Gamer Viceroy came by demanding to know why he’d been snubbed out of the reward levels and, seriously now, you don’t want me to snub the viceroy do you? No, I didn’t think so. The man’s a legend in this town.

So there you have it. I love me some RPGs but you can love you some of whatever you want, and if that something happens to be some kind of tabletop gaming, it will always have a home at The Raygun Lounge.

I can’t wait to see you all there,

-Eric

July 25, 2012 / by Eric

We all have things we think about and say, “wouldn’t it be great if…” But then whatever you said seems so ridiculous that you never bother actually pursuing it. Not big things – like running for President or directing a feature film – but the little, silly things like teaching a course on 80s cartoons. Could you teach a course on 80s cartoons? You probably could. Would it be great? Oh, totally! But it wouldn’t likely be the focus of anyone’s life, it would just be a fantastically fulfilled “wouldn’t it be great if” opportunity. You know, like those things you talk about when you’re drunk at parties but never actually get around to doing because it doesn’t really warrant the effort. But still, it would be cool if it really happened.

Strangely, opening a game store was never a “wouldn’t it be great if” for me. Even at the height of my gaming (and I’ve actually had a couple of heights now) it never crossed my mind. I love that I did it and I love my job and I love many of the things it lets and occasionally requires me to do but opening a game store, for me, isn’t the fulfillment of one of my giddy thoughts. It’s something else. And I’m aware of this now because I recently got to fulfill on one of my “wouldn’t it be great ifs” and it is, indeed, a very unique and wonderful feeling.

When I was in my mid-twenties or so, I would think, very passingly, in between my raucous substance-fueled debauchery, “If running roleplaying games were a job, I’d be great at it. Wouldn’t it be great if it was my job to run roleplaying games?” But it was a silly thought so I never pursued it. I mean, really. Paid to run games? That seemed like such a silly thing. So I’d completely forgotten about it and the emotions attached to it when I was quickly crafting our Kickstarter Pledge Rewards last week. We had a long list and it was a very fast, very focused process to brainstorm, pare down, propose, review, write and submit descriptions. Very fast.

When I wrote down that I’d be willing to run some roleplaying games it was pretty much just a mechanical process. What resources do we have? We have me. Great. What could I do? I could run some roleplaying games. I’m really good at that. Great. Stick that in there. What’s next? I was so busy I really didn’t even think about it.

And then two different people selected roleplaying with me as their Kickstarter pledge reward this week. When these individuals claim their reward it will be my job to run a roleplaying game for them. And all of a sudden, I live in another world. A different world where people get to do things just because it would be great if. I am so thankful to those two people who have accidentally given me the opportunity to experience this amazing feeling of having a “wouldn’t it be great if” come true. It’s profoundly moving in ways I never would have expected it to be.

Thank you.

Now I just need to start developing some adventures…

Wait. You didn’t think I was going to run straight fantasy did you?

See you all again soon,

-Eric

July 23, 2012 / by Eric

Wow. The 48 hours since we launched our Raygun Lounge Kickstarter have been amazing, exciting and, at times, a bit… emotional.

Take last Saturday morning when Seattle’s Queer Geeks scheduled an impromptu meeting with me to discuss some “concerns” that they had with the phrasing of some of our Kickstarter pledge descriptions. With us having recently sponsored, provided t-shirts for and walked with their Pride parade float, figured it was going to be all

but when they all showed up wearing leather vests and headbands

and I realized that it was going to be a lot more

So I start hitting AB AB hoping to figure out how the kick and strike work when their lead negotiator pulls a CD Right Trigger Power Combo and just as I’m wondering how many buttons these things even have on them, their wartime consigliere, who shall remain nameless lest I reveal him to be Andrew, shouts “Phoenix Wright Objection Strike!” and pulls out his own controller and while I’m whining about how I thought this this was a sidescroll fighter they all yell 3vP Multiscreen and just go to town on me for the next twenty minutes straight. Absolutely brutal, I tell you. Toughest negotiation I’ve ever experienced.

On the happy side, their PAX Prime Pink Party lounge date has been secured and is going to be totally great, our Kickstarter pledge goals have been adjusted appropriately, and Dominic got to overhear the most intense in-store business conversation since the legendary Tom Ko phone call of 2010.

And that was just Saturday morning.

Stay tuned for more daring tales of thrilling game store adventure with me, your host, Eric Logan.