“Please keep your ass crack covered at all times.”
June 26, 2008 3:50 PM   Subscribe

"I’m Charlie Cappa floating through his nightclub in a sharp Italian suit in MEAN STREETS, Henry Hill being lead through the back door of the Copacabana to a table right in front of the stage in GOODFELLAS, or Ace Rothstein at the dead center of the frame as he walks through the Tangiers in CASINO. I’m also Michael Barnes and I am walking through Atlanta Game Factory on a summer day three years ago. Imagine the Ronettes or the Rolling Stones on the soundtrack and you’ve got a pretty good picture of what it felt like to walk into AGF at the peak of its powers. All my life I wanted to be a game store owner." Gameshark has just posted the tenth and final installment of the strange saga of the rise and fall of the Atlanta Game Factory.
posted by arcanecrowbar (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First FPP. Please be gentle. I am not affiliated with any of these people, I just thought this was a fascinating story.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 3:51 PM on June 26, 2008

It is a fascinating, if slightly mental, story. I used to be into gaming many, many years ago, but I find it hard to remember how seriously some people took it (when I was 14 nothing would get me out of the Games Workshop store in Hammersmith).

But a nice story all the same.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:33 PM on June 26, 2008

Interesting read but it seems that other than working with the Barrister, the author could do no wrong.

If the Barrister wrote this story, I'd guess that it'd read something like: "He found something that he believed in, left a safe job to start his own business, risked everything, and worked his ass off despite the efforts of his partners (One a dilettante playboy and the other an financially incompetent bully who viewed the store as a playground and clubhouse instead of a business) who ignored his retail management/ownership experience, only to have his partners, whom he considered friends, try to low-ball him out of the business and then assault him and run a smear campaign to drive him out of business!"

I really have to wonder if they ever had a grasp on the financial situation. If he was cutting margins as tight as he said on the board games, I'd have a hard time imagining that he could pay rent and utilities as well as the staff let alone all the other incidental costs of running a business. Factor in taxes and I'd guess it would've blown up sooner rather than later, especially given that any profits were going to pay the minimum balance on a high-interest loan.

It sounds like Dollar Bill decided that fighting for the shop would be more of a headache than it was worth (it sounds like the chance of success would be slim, given that the Barrister was the majority shareholder and anything that was documented would likely be in the Barrister's favor.) It didn't seem like the author respected him or his money.
posted by theclaw at 6:52 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Never go into business with your lawyer....that bit of sound advice could have saved them all the trouble.
posted by GavinR at 7:27 PM on June 26, 2008

In 5.2 (of the) we're told in detail about the author's success at a convention and The Barrister's "misplacing" cash from the event, then in 5.4 (Atlanta), we learn about the Barrister's subsequent firing.

The author expresses uncertainty about the money's disappearance:

"We’ll likely never know if The Barrister really intended to “misplace” all that money and pocket it for himself or if he just made a stupid mistake, misplacing or otherwise failing to account for all that cash."

But two pages later, the author seems to contradict that with a throwaway line:

"[The Barrister] never showed up that night. He wouldn’t be seen in the store again for nearly two months. The Dragon Con money was found and put into the bank account."

I dislike passive voice sentences apparently shirking their own responsibility to inform. Makes me wonder about the authors letting them get away with it.

I'd agree with theclaw on this.
posted by Skeuomorph at 8:52 PM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

Finally finished reading the whole thing although I really did skim through the last few pages. Very compelling at first because I worked in a gaming/comic book/anime junk store during my college years in the early 90's. Also, I was The Kid during the mid-80's and I really did undergo that type of transformation because of my local comic store and the geeky friendships I made there with older people who treated me as equals.

After a bit though, my nostalgia wore off and I saw this story for what it truly was: A guy who made bad mistake after bad mistake because he was way too into the fandom and couldn't see what was really happening with the business side of things. Mister Barnes and Dollar Bill made some amazingly astounding errors which make me not sympathize with them at all. Taking on such a partner without questioning the source of is funding is enough for me to not have any pity on them.

Then there was the repetitious padding to the point of nauseum. Yeah, I get that he likes offbeat movies, 80's music, and could have screwed some teen-aged girl with blue hair. I just don't want to keep reading about it.
posted by GavinR at 9:56 PM on June 26, 2008

This was an awesome story and an awesome post.

But ultimately tragic. It's sad (yet again) to see dumb greed trump passion and community (yet again). A zero sum game indeed.

PS--surely there's a part XI to come? The story can't end this way:

"...I felt like my customers, my fellow gamers, and my friends needed me to do something.

I felt like I owed it to them."
posted by flotson at 11:40 PM on June 26, 2008

Somewhere out there, there are probably more copies of a role playing game supplement with my name on the cover than there were of the game the go with (this based on reports of other brilliant stock management maneuvers) and a guy who owes me what, at the time, seemed like a fabulous amount of money, but now just barely seems like a significant wad of cash.

I've heard so many stories that sound vaguely like this it's kind of depressing. Gaming gets people who have (or who at least think they have) a strategic bent. Unfortunately, this means they spend more time trying to plan some brilliant landing at Inchon when they really need to be making sure the boats aren't leaking.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:22 AM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Fascinating post... thank you!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:53 AM on June 27, 2008

While I don't think you can really "pity" the protagonist for it's downfall, I think it's an interesting microcosm for any hobbyist attempting to monetize their love. I sympathize with him because, as he says, there is no greater wish than to take your niche love of something, and have that be your life.

However, I agree with previous posters: The author could do wrong, and if you're going to take a business and grow it, you need to understand all aspects and assume all legal responsibilities on paper, so that no one single partner can do what was done. There's enough literature out there about this, Busch league man...

Fascinating post btw, thanks, made this Friday a whole lot easier :)
posted by teabag at 11:52 AM on June 27, 2008

This was a great post. Over the course of an hour, I went from "there's no way I'm reading all of this" to "I can't believe I just read all of that."

Despite the failure of their business, I have to applaud them for actually attempting to create an open and friendly environment for new gamers. It's so frustrating to be a hobby gamer who tries to get other people into the pastime. The games we play are fun and easy and intriguing and, fuck, they're board games. Who doesn't like board games?

But then the newbie gamers go to the local game store to pick up this Settlers Of Catan they've heard so much about, and discover a dirty lair of humorless socially awkward dicks who consider selling board games to be a necessary evil so their little Warhammer store can stay open. My local game store is particularly bad, and I've considered buying online. I believe in buying local, and New Orleans in particular needs more of that, but what if the locals are total dicks? I'm essentially paying double the price for the privilege of being ignored (at best) by a bunch of guys in creepy dusters.

A bit of a derail, but I run into that sort of guy-- with that classic militaristic fervor of a guy who would NEVER survive in the actual military--every time I go to buy games, and lately I've been thinking about how they are TOTALLY the modern-day equivalent of Don Quixote. Think about it: they're so addled by their consumption of media that their waking life has become a sort of dreamworld where they star as the ultimate badass, during which they pontificate at length about the particulars of their delusions, and all attempts to dissuade them from this certainty gets absorbed into their self-mythos or just ignored.

(Also: frequently accompanied by fat guys.)

I'd love to see someone make a modern-day Man Of La Mancha about a sad sack military fetishist's increasingly pitiful adventures with his adoring chubby sidekick. Pegg and Wright, are you listening?
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:14 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

fantastic post, thanks arcanecrowbar.
posted by xbonesgt at 5:59 PM on June 27, 2008


and could have screwed some teen-aged girl with blue hair. I just don't want to keep reading about it.

What in the hell are you talking about?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:07 PM on June 27, 2008

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