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Exploring the World of Board Games at Empire Game Library

By Marina I. Jokic

Board games are a great way to relieve stress and encourage social interaction. Instead of the usually isolating tendency of video games, playing board games can enhance your social life. It can also sharpen your thinking and create a tight-knit community. Victor Hall, Manager of the Empire Game Library, reveals what makes Empire Game Library unique among Albuquerque residents.

The library itself stands by their belief in the importance of television- and internet-free family time. Empire's founder Rory Veronda has been a board gaming enthusiast for the majority of his life, eventually deciding to channel his passion into a successful business venture.

Anyone is welcome to come and play at Empire. There is also a café with a variety of refreshing coffees, soft drinks, desserts, baked goods, sandwiches and salads. Veronda wanted to create a comfortable atmosphere where gamers would have everything at their fingertips and wouldn't need to interrupt their games. One of Veronda's primary goals is to build a board gaming community, and his efforts are focused on making sure that people are well taken care of at his establishment.

"Empire was designed to be a family friendly space that encourages communication, cooperation, and fun without a screen as a medium for entertainment," Hall says. For instance, tabletop and board games encourage players to be active participants while learning and having fun. Especially for families, the kind of active gaming at Empire is perfect for encouraging interaction and bonding as well as for developing critical thinking and problem solving skills in children. There are a lot of intellectually stimulating board games that can keep kids and adults engrossed for hours.

"With a library boasting over seven hundred games, our board game library is a comprehensive mix of games, broaching many genres and styles," adds Hall. While they have many of the classic and established board games that many generations have grown up with, the primary focus is shifting to contemporary games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Dominion and many others. Veronda is aware that many of the games they carry are obscure to the general public. Because of that, Empire Game Library requires that their floor staff is proficient with over fifty games and that they learn a new game every week. The staff's deep knowledge of the game library allows them to easily teach the public and provide instructions quickly.

Hall explains that the basic tenet of Empire Game Library is to provide a family-friendly atmosphere with access to hundreds of games as well as a delicious menu of drinks and snacks. "To the right, on white shelves, is the retail section, containing games that are, for the most part, in the library, allowing patrons to play before they buy," Hall says. Sampling the games is a huge factor in people's decision to buy them.

Veronda's short term goals have remained the same?to encourage more people to get involved with gaming in Albuquerque and to be part of a community. "To do this, we regularly host tournaments and gaming marathons to benefit local charities in town," Hall says. The success of the business has been steady, and Veronda feels he has an obligation to the community. Supporting various charities by donations is a small token of Empire Game Library's appreciation to the people of Albuquerque.

In the not too distant future, Hall hopes, they will open a second location either in the city or elsewhere in the state.

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