Daily Illuminator

January 12, 2010: Hong Kong For Gamers

Munchkin in a Hong Kong game cafe window Hello from Hong Kong! Ross and I have been here for a few days now, and we're not quite as lost as we were on that first day . . . even if we do keep finding ourselves completely turned around and confused. This is a massive, exciting place that's every cyberpunk city you've ever seen in fiction -- especially Blade Runner -- brought to life. There are people everywhere, and the only thing that might outnumber the living population is the army of neon lights that fill every available inch of sky.

So what are Ross and I doing in Hong Kong? Technically, we're here to attend the Hong Kong Toy and Game Fair, but really we're here to enjoy everything that a new city has to offer two foreigners. (But don't let the business office know, since they usually frown on spending thousands of dollars to send people halfway around the world to enjoy awesome food and views unlike anything we'll ever see at GenCon.)

Yesterday (Or is that tomorrow? Maybe it was last month. I'm still adjusting to the time change.) Ross and I spent the day with Perry of Wargames Club, our partner in Hong Kong who translates Munchkin for the Chinese market. It was an educational, exciting day, and Ross and I managed to even teach Perry and his staff Nanuk before they took us to the Wargames Club game store. It's the only game store in Hong Kong, and every bit as good as any store I've encountered in the US. The store had as good a selection of games as any store I've ever seen -- and more wargames than most stores, because Perry is a wargamer and is dedicated to stocking full lines. It was one of the cleanest game stores I've ever been in. Which isn't surprising; Hong Kong is easily the cleanest city I've ever visited.

The only thing missing at the Wargames Club store was a place to play games . . . but that's no problem if you know the secret path between the store and a nearby "boardgame cafe." Yes, in Hong Kong they have cafes -- six or seven, according to Perry -- where you go to play games. And they're clean, well lit, have great play space, and a library that rivals my own game collection. We showed up at the cafe a little before they opened, but the staff was friendly and let us wander in and drool on their gaming space. Attention, Austin: I expect a boardgame cafe to be open by the time I get home.

After that, we continued our meeting in one of the largest shopping malls I've ever visited. A short six hours after we started our visit with Perry and his staff, Ross and I were returned to our hotel and left to explore Hong Kong on our own . . . we eventually found our way back to the hotel.

-- Phil Reed

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