Mad Doctor’s mad games
Posted on Sep 19, 2012 in Features
Birmingham is full of hidden little treasures, you just have to keep an eye out for them. Mad Doctor Game Shop is one of the city’s newest additions, located in Southside near the heart of Five Points. The shop opened in late May of this year, bringing access to tabletop games back to the greater Birmingham area. Owners and long time gamers Robert Juneau and Nathan Kifer had toyed with the idea years before. Nathan previously worked at The Lion and Unicorn, the city’s last game shop that closed long before Mad Doctor. A decade without any sort of gaming outlet was impetus enough for the two men to create a new one. Robert found the conveniently located store front and Mad Doctor was subsequently born.
Located on 1318 20th Street South (near Cobb Lane and J Clyde), the store has a selection of board games, cards, books, and gaming accessories. People are allowed to use the back rooms to play games, though one to two rooms are usually reservation only. The only rule to using these game rooms is that you must let people join your game if there’s room for another player.
Mad Doctor has received positive reception, especially among UAB students. Even Montevallo students have traveled up to get their game fill. Besides students, Mad Doctor also aims to serve perhaps the most prominent of the game community: women. “The stereotype of the gamer is a lonely, socially-inept white male,” explains Nathan. “While there may have been considerable truth to this in the past, research has shown that women and minorities are increasingly becoming gamers as well.” Unfortunately, a lot of games are still marketed at the old stereotype, but Mad Doctor is aiming to change that. As a courtesy to female patrons, all game covers that feature highly sexualized, and quite frankly unrealistic, portrayals of the lady-esque form are turned on their sides as so not to offend or alienate. It was also for this reason that Robert and Nathan decided not to sell comic books at Mad Doctor. Perhaps because of this less troublesome atmosphere, the shop’s foot traffic has been 25 to 40 percent female.
In addition to serving the gamer girls of Birmingham, Mad Doctor aims to create a community in the city that wasn’t as present before. By providing a safe, fun space for people to come and play a variety of board games, cards, and role playing games (along with drinks and snacks for sale), the owners hope for the shop to be where like minded people can meet and bond. “Even form a romantic relationship,” adds Nathan. Workshops are also hosted here, a service that was not being provided by anyone previously, with the goal to demystify the complicated roleplaying process. Even current Dungeon Masters can attend to brush up on these skills for creating better scenarios and campaigns.
One might not think it at first glance, but these games can be quite customizable and highly educational. Nathan, a former ESL teacher, taught a Korean child geography by creating his very own world, something you get to do in roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons. The young boy was told to create tectonics that would form continents and mountains; he picked the placement for his oceans, deserts, forests, and agriculture all in relationship to his own world, populating areas and mapping his progress along the way. It was one of Nathan’s proudest moments, using elements of roleplaying to teach a concept that was unknown to this child. “I’ve since used this method four times.”
Game new comers are welcome to experience the intellectual atmosphere that both shop and the gaming community can provide; Long time gamers will feel right at home. No matter your background, sex, age (twelve and up for the younger ones is preferred, though), you will be welcomed into the new Southside institution.
Mad Doctor Game Shop is can be found at 1318 20th Street South. Store hours, workshop schedules and more information can be found on their Facebook page: facebook.com/maddoctorgameshop.
Senior Staff Writer