Being the accessible, well-liked man-about-the-neighborhood that I am, I often get approached by well-meaning, supportive people asking, “how are you/how’s it going at the shop/with the lounge/with kickstarter?” and no matter what I answer lately, I feel like it just doesn’t do the question justice. My off-the-cuff answers always seem, in hindsight, to be too short and, frankly, misleading out of context. So I’ve decided to finally come clean once and for all and tell you the REAL story of how things are going with the shop and the lounge and how I actually feel about them. In detailed context.
The True History of Gamma Ray Games – A Fable
When I first opened Gamma Ray Games I’d been unemployed for months. I was a stay-at-home-dad with little chance of re-entering the job force any time soon. When I first opened the game store, I imagined it as a little fishing boat. I figured I would spend my days eking out rent while trying to figure out how to get people through the door. But that seemed better to me than spending my late thirties sitting at home playing video games and reading the internet all day.
But from the very first day something different happened. Something else entirely. People came by. They just stopped by. Every day. They came to see what was going on, to talk about games and gaming, to share ideas. Almost instantly my little boat of a game store was drawing an engaged, diverse community to it.
Before I knew it, my metaphoric fishing boat had an outboard motor. A big one. By the time Dominic came on board, we were skipping off the water so often and for so long that we decided to add wings just to see how much air we could actually catch. We never expected to actually take flight.
Staying aloft and gaining altitude in a built-out rowboat presented a number of new and unexpected challenges for us. We built our solutions from scratch, keeping what worked and dropping what didn’t. Sometimes quite literally. Given all the holes in the hull at that point, it wasn’t hard to do. I’d like to apologize to any of you that had an odd wrench or partially built mechanical system come flying through your kitchen window during that period. I hope no one was hurt and, if it’s any consolation, I’m pretty sure that they’ll all be collectibles someday.
By the time we reached the stratosphere we knew we were onto something and the discussion, when we weren’t trying to desperately patch the hull or jerry-rig new equipment became “what next?” And though “fly out into space to look for the gates” was a popular option, we eventually decided to build a second ship. From scratch. Inside our hand-built stratobomber. And launch it, untested, from high altitude. Without landing for parts.
Yes. This is what we would do. The more we considered it, the clearer it became. This was exactly what our unique backgrounds had prepared us for. We would go for it. All in.
So, using only materials donated to us by our fellow sky captains, we constructed a self-inflating dirigible inside of the hollowed out frame of our stratobomber and modified the bomb doors to fit it.
When it came time to let it go… it dropped like a lead bullet. Straight down. Like we shot it from a gun. You could hear it whistling as it dropped. And everyone watching from the ground knew it would crash. They wouldn’t say it over the radio because they didn’t want to hurt our feelings, but the rumors were out there. Misguided. Doomed. Naive. My personal favorite, straight from a hater’s piercing email, was “profoundly overreaching.”
But the people on the ground didn’t realize how much we’d learned about DIY aeronautics. How brave we were. How willing we were to climb down the snapping connection cables, climb into that untested zeppelin hull and kick those inflators ourselves until they finally came on, scrapping and rebuilding from scratch any that wouldn’t.
Now we’re months into this expansion and though the connecting cables have held and the wings of the stratobomber haven’t snapped off entirely yet and all 4 engines are running most of of the time, we’re closer to the ground then we’ve ever been.
I can hear treetops snapping under me as I type this. We lost 3 crew members in as many weeks last month and are still subject to occasional reaver attacks. And I can still hear the critics who want me to crash and the concerned onlookers who want me to land. And now, more than ever, I know that I’m right where I want to be and I’m doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. I’m an adventurer. And this is the adventure of my lifetime. And I’m not giving up this ragtag armada for anybody.
I’m still not sure where we’re going. But I don’t care anymore because I’ve come to realize that the journey itself is amazing. And I want to bring as many of you as I can right along with me. Because I love my life and how I spend it and I’m going to do all I can to ensure that you love yours too.
So there you have it. The honest truth about how it’s going at Gamma Ray Games and the Raygun Lounge and how I feel about them both. Please try to remember all of this the next time you hear someone who hasn’t read this post ask me how it’s going and know what I really mean when I say, “uh… pretty good… today… I guess… I just need to get that damn fire put out,” as I run off to go find where we moved the circuit breaker so I can shut the power down to the burning section before rushing in with a fire extinguisher.