How are you all doing today? For the month of October, we’re shining the spotlight on our awesome staff that keep the wheels of PI turning!
You know him as the friendly Warhammer and Pokemon guy, it’s our man Vernon!
I sat down and had a chat with Vernon to find out all about his Life@PI (and his secret back story)
Q: How Did You Get Started With The Tabletop Hobby
Mainly the big one is that I’ve always been playing games for a while. So definitely Video Games and all that were the first few to get started with.
I think my first major exposure to Warhammer was when I was 8 years old, in 1998. So that was when I believe when Third Edition was the thing? It was 2 things that happened, I can’t remember what came first. One was I had hand-me-down White Dwarfs from older cousins because my age gap between was the biggest. They were like 20 and I was 8? I remember reading those kinds of things, and at 8 years old It was cool models and all that. I’ve always been inclined towards the more creative side of things. Words were not really my thing but coloured pictures and all that looks cool? The ’90s aesthetic was literally at its peak especially the true Grim Dark thing. I remember it was mixed because some copies were the UK ones and I remember some were the Australian White Dwarfs too.
I remember my Dad got me the Third Edition Starter Set. He wasn’t really into the models so it was really cool where he was like ‘Oh this is popular in UK!’ and he got it back from a working trip. So I got that set and the starter paint sets. The Third Edition Starter Set had the Black Templars on the cover with Dark Eldar. I think it was around 150 Pounds back then? And then I had the big black rulebook as well, my Dad also bought that.
So at 8 years old, it was like ‘What is models?’ Like I’d done SD Gundam model kits to an extent and I did small scale ships as well. I think the funniest thing about it was I used UHU glue to put them together because ‘What was superglue? What was plastic glue?’ no clue! So I put it on, and the guys had like gooey arms on! The best one I remember was the Eldar sprues had the Splinter Rifle or the Splinter Pistol and the Close Combat Weapon. I basically looked at it and was like: well they have 10 bodies and I have like 20 pairs of arms. What do work? Oh! They are aliens right? So I put 4 arms on each model and I was like IT LOOKS COOL!
I wasn’t that into the painting part of things and I played only a couple of games. I mean now it’s so much easier to get started with the new Recruit Edition, it’s like step-by-step this is one unit. Back then it was ‘Here the rules, play the game!’ They did have old reference cards so that was quite useful. So back then we had an old fold-up mattress bed, we pushed up the bed and used the board as the gaming table.
I only got into the painting around Fourth or Fifth Edition that was around Battle for Macragge and Assault on Black Reach. Black Reach was one of the more popular sets because that was when the Dawn of War video game came out.
One thing really fun about 40k is that even though when you start you have no idea what the ‘fluff’ is, once you pick an army and you stick with it, you literally become a devotee to it! It’s like sports teams ‘oh I pick that team because I like their jersey colour!’ Then you start learning their lore and their history. Even in the store we see so many examples of something like this where people started not knowing what is it, say people like Kora (our staff) Initially when she did her Seraphon. ‘Oh they are just Lizardmen’, now it’s like if you talk bad about her Seraphon, she’ll be like ‘HOW DARE YOU TALK BAD ABOUT MY SERAPHON!’ so it’s a really cool thing and we do it in fun because it’s a wacky universe, no matter how you see it.
Falling into Board Games & CCGs
I think as for games in general, as long as its a game, I’ll kinda play it. Like true traditional Casino games, video games definitely, Board games, I got more into it around Secondary School. So I did know that there were board games that existed outside Monopoly and Risk and stuff like that, it was also around the time when Board Game Cafes were really a thing. So it was during Secondary School, it was like ‘Hey! Let’s go to the Board Game Cafe!’ kind of thing. This was around 2002, 2003. I was 13, 14 years old give or take.
I loved Dominion back then because of the whole engine builder thing. A recent title I like a lot is Unfair. I do like hidden role games like One Night Ultimate Werewolf.
I remember starting Magic: The Gathering around 7th Edition. I got my first deck at the old World Trade Centre. I think I was going on a trip to Batam or something to visit family. There was this 1 glass counter and there was Magic there and I was like ‘Huh, I’ve heard of Magic. Is there a Starter Deck? Ok let me just buy 2 Starter Decks!’ This was around the era of the Game Boy Color and there were no Smartphones so ‘eh there was nothing to do, let’s play a card game!’ since its physical, and I’m not averse to physical stuff. That’s the whole fun of it. So I played Magic with my brother, we both learnt the rules and we both enjoyed it!
And then Pokemon came along around 1998. One thing I found out that I like, even when it comes to things like Board Games, is I like franchises where there’s lots of things to collect from it. Definitely the universe does play a part to it, but it’s kind of the ‘hoarder mentality’ of ‘I want to complete all the things’. Pokemon literally bred that mentality, and its still fun. The best thing I like about franchises is you don’t have to do everything, you can find a small part of it and you can still enjoy it. Like bringing back to Warhammer, there’s so many aspects to it: you can do and like specific parts of the hobby, or you can just only read the books. Ideally everyone should try to dabble in a bit of every thing before settling.
Q: When Did You Decide To Work at PI
I started working here..oo..how long ago? 2013? That’s like a good 6-7 years already! It was after army, I took a couple months break and applied to schools. I sort of applied here and went basically ‘Hey are you guys hiring?’ and they were like ‘can I have your resume’ and things like that as well. Because my logic was ‘if I was going to sell something, I rather sell something I enjoy.’ I rather be selling board games than clothes. The whole reason why I work in a game store is because I want people to also enjoy the things I enjoy. Because the things that we do require other people to enjoy it as well. And even if people don’t choose to buy stuff at the present time, knowing about it makes a big difference as well. Even as a kid as well oo you won’t be able to afford that Warhammer starter set day one when you walk in, but it would be a goal to say ‘hey I’ll just save up for that.’ or ‘maybe I’ll ask that for a Christmas gift’ and stuff like that. And that enough is a good enough seed. So people come into the store, they get exposed to the games, that’s cool and fun! And then again, more people to play with. If there are more people in the World that play, there’s more people to play with. That was kind of the reason I applied. On a whim almost. Because I was stalling, I took a gap period for about 3-4 months and not doing much. And I went ‘Huh.. I should go do something’ It is my first and only job! Being able to share with others, is the key thing I enjoy about working at a game store.
Q: What Were Some of the Highlights of Working at PI
One thing I really enjoy doing is engaging families with younger kids. And it’s not just the parents get a game for the kids to keep them busy and they don’t care. It’s when the parents get involved as well and they also learn the game, like when parents play Pokemon, Forbidden Island or Pandemic with their kids and all that is great. I started at a young age, and its something that latches on to you for a long time. Even if kids are touching their mobile phone games and video games, knowing that Board Games exist, knowing that ‘hey I did this as a child with my family, it was fun.’ is great.
But at the same time it does lead to sad interactions. I was trying to introduce a couple of family games, there were these super young kids who were very enthusiastic and they were really young. They were 6 and 10 give or take? And they were picking up stuff, trying to read it and understanding it and I’m describing it to them. And the parents weren’t really interested in it, and then the Dad said something like ‘Oh ai ya liddat can play my iPad can already ah’. I mean yeah you could but you’re not playing with them… It’s the whole ‘Nah I give you money, you go do whatever. You come back at night for dinner can oredy.’ It’s like taking care of a stray cat. I honestly felt quite sad. On the flip side, you have some parents who are too ‘on’ and the kids are like ‘Gaahhrg, leave me alone Dad!’
Q: Ideally, What would You Like to see Happen More at PI
I would like to have more Pokemon TCG events happen here with parents and kids. Also with the new edition of Warhammer 40k, the stuff from Crusade is really interesting. I’m trying to redo an army to take to games because the potential is there. Just to explore gaming for fun and getting the local crowd here to try things out. Most of us haven’t had games in the last 6 months? So just trying things out and expose them to something new. Another thing is just encouraging people to start the game. Things like getting the Recruit Edition bundle and doing the Warhammer 40k demos are something people have been going to. So far it has been quite positive! Like 2 kids and their Dad or friends come down, dragging more friends to come throw dice and learn the game together. And seeing people walk away having fun with it, is good enough for me.
I think the biggest focus for me now is trying to expose games to more people. Like more people should just try things out. If you think about it, every game is of zero consequence. In the comparison of the ‘grand scheme of your life’ of whatever, so what if you lose a casual game? Unless it’s a Shadow Duel (Minji inserts suddenly: “YOU LOSE! YOU GO TO THE SHADOW REALM!”) Well yeah, if it’s to the Shadow Realm than that’s a whole different thing! I mean, what are the chances of that actually happening? (Minji says: “Above zero? Probably below 1”) But the true point of gaming is: You’re here to have fun, as long as it’s not at the expense of other people.
As for the stereotype of ‘girls don’t play tabletop games’, it exists to a degree, but we do get a lot more younger kids, families, females coming down and enjoy playing games and all that. The way we try to have the store here is we try to be more welcoming to everyone. A particular game may not be for everyone but everyone has a particular game that they would like. Just try things out, you’ll never know if you’ll like it or not. When we used to host D&D RPG players, there were a lot of female players as well! Even when it comes to painting Warhammer and other miniatures, so many more people and females getting into the hobby aspect of it. And it’s not just ‘oh my brother or boyfriend is doing it’, they’re doing it because they want to do it as well! I mean yeah of course there’s the ‘Oh look it’s a girl!’ kind of BS, but so what?
Thanks Vernon! It was an excellent time speaking with you! Believe me, there was a lot more awesome I wish I could put in this article but it would literally take 20 pages!
Catch Vernon at the store, ask him about Warhammer and Pokemon! We’re still running Warhammer 40k demos on Mondays and Sunday evenings! Book on the booking page or drop us a message on FaceBook and we’ll get you sorted!
Our Indomitus Promotion is still running till October 31, 2020! Stand a chance to win the coveted Indomitus Box Set!
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