We live in a world dominated by electronics, and it can be a lonely, isolated place. Whether plugged in or wireless, we're surrounded by glowing panels and touch screens, beeps and bleeps. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the games we play. (Angry Birds, anyone?) But we humans are social animals, and there is a growing need to connect with each other in a real, nondigital, hands-on way. But how? Enter Bryan Winter. He's opened a game store in Middleton called, aptly, I'm Board!, and it's entirely unplugged.
Winter, a longtime gamer and game designer with a background in marketing, opened I'm Board! in August. The father of two sons, 10 and 12, Winter saw the need for a place that catered to families as well as to hard-core gamers.
Walk in to the brightly lit store, and first thing you notice is that there's nary a blink or a bleep; Winter carries every conceivable kind of game - except electronic ones. He has board games, card games, educational games, puzzles, historical games, role-playing games, outdoor games...you get the picture. At first it can be a little overwhelming, but Winter is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable evangelist, and is happy to be your guide.
Games are organized according to age level. For the young 'uns, he has a large selection of Haba toys. He demoed one called Dancing Eggs ($20, ages 3+), which quickly had us chasing after bouncing rubber eggs, clucking like idiots and running around the table. Just what the doctor ordered. For family and party play, Winter suggests Say Anything ($25, ages 13+), an Apples to Apples-type game for the slightly older set.
Rail addicts 8 and up can travel cross-country via the Ticket to Ride series, with their elaborate, old-fashioned maps. War games (Washington's War, The American Revolution and Colonial War, $60, 12+) sneak in some history. And who could resist the Bag 'o Zombies, 100 plastic gaming zombies for $9.99? That's under a dime per zombie!
The store also has a game library, as well as a game center in back that is open to all, for either impromptu play or organized tournaments (check the online event schedule).