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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018
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Modern game room fosters family approach

SPRING HILL — While no board games are evident at NeverBoard Gaming Community, the strategy and competitiveness of game playing are in full force, with the latest digital hardware modernizing the pursuit.

The NeverBoard shop, a venue for video gaming and a card game called Magic: The Gathering, opened in December.

The front room of the shop in Towne Square is devoted to video game playing — Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Wii U — and equipped with monitors.

"That’s how we’re different," said NeverBoard owner Bobby Thomas, 34. Other gaming rooms require players to bring their own digital equipment. Thomas suggests they bring only their own controllers.

Just as billiards players have personal cue sticks, gamers personalize their controllers, he said. On-site controllers also are available and included in the fee for play: $5 for two hours; $10 for all day.

Evening tournament play requires a $5 bracket charge, Thomas said, which funds the pot for winners. Video gaming tournaments are legal, he said, because play is designated as skill, not luck.

Video gaming accounts for about half of the customers at NeverBoard. The other half flow into the shop’s room devoted to Magic: the Gathering.

"It’s wizards casting spells to best each other in a game of wits," said general manager Joseph Sokolowski, 26. "It’s definitely a joy for card gamers. Magic is where it’s at."

A deck consists of 60 cards, each of which can be upgraded to give its wizard incremental powers.

"There are 30,000 cards from which to create your own deck of 60," Sokolowski said. The shop sells a house deck for $30. Card upgrades cost as little as $1, but can range into the hundreds of dollars.

Card gaming also includes nightly tournaments, but cash prizes are not permitted by Florida law, Thomas said.

With the game room’s opening, he’s following a passion born at age 3, when he played card games with his grandparents. His aim is to become a professional gamer and develop games himself.

A primary motivation for establishing the shop, Thomas said, is that it’s "a business I can bring my young family to."

He is considering adding dominoes or bridge to attract retirees and seniors.

"I’m hoping it’ll be a 5-to-105-year-olds community place," he said.

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

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Modern game room fosters family approach