Reduced hours this week – GENCON!

Fair Game is headed to GenCon down in Indy so we will be limiting our hours a bit as follows:




  • Thursday, August 15th - CLOSED
  • Friday, August 16th – Open : 11AM, Close: 5pm
  • Saturday, August 17th – Open : 10AM, Close: 7pm
  • Sunday, August 18th - Normal hours (noon to 5pm)

If any of you are going to be down at the convention, make sure to look for us and say “Hi”!


Notes – in the Field!

pencilAs many of you know, I am an engineer in my other life. An engineer who has the privilege of working with some amazingly smart and creative people. Recently I gave away some of our Field Notes to a few of my colleagues. I find myself using these little things quite often in a variety of ways – one of which is as an…ahem…professional, and wanted to share the experience. These little guys have traveled with me all over the country and have certainly been in some interesting places (and boring ones as well).

The other day I received an email from one of these colleagues who, unsolicited, decided it was necessary to ramble on a bit about their new(ish) notebooks. It is these little things which make my day.

With permission, I present their email below:

This notebook has been through it all… And it remains intact, ready for anything. I’m sure you knew I was going to put it through its paces, and I didn’t hold back. Salty sweat, laundry cycles, logging sawdust, pool chlorine, heat AND humidity… I guess you could say I’m too forgetful to remove my paper brains from hazardous situations, but you’d be wrong. Just like a good friend, it’s there when I need it the most.Thanks Josh, I appreciate the durability.

And a snapshot which was included:


These little books are a great example of simplicity in design. Field Notes, the company, take a simple idea and tweak it – just a bit – to work well in our current modern society. There is something comforting about pulling out one of these little notebooks and jotting down an idea or a sketch or just doodling. The “tangibleness” becomes novel and refreshing. It just feels good to use paper and pen – again.

The simplicity and utility has come, full circle, back into high tech. The real notepad app which works so well.

Thanks for the email A, and thanks for the cool products FN!



Get your engineering on!

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I feel like I shouldn’t even have to warn you any longer that the following post isn’t directly game related.

So consider yourself decidedly NOT warned.

Something really cool happened right here in Downers Grove this weekend (Sunday July 21st to be exact). A group of college kids on a sort of engineering tour of the US (driving the SparkTruck) stopped by Downers Grove North Highschool to show some of our kids (and adults!) a small example of what it is like to take an idea from initial concept to design by using a small variety of pieces and parts and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

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My son Sam went to two of their sessions (organized by the FRoG group right here in DG also) and had a great experience both times – designing and building a photo (5)“jelly-tick” consisting of a foam carapace and long tentacles (is that what a jellyfish has?) which moved in a somewhat organic way by virtue of a small pager motor and coin-sized battery. He also learned to work with a team to help their “alien robot” maneuver around a newly discovered planet in search of energy.


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These two exercises were – themselves – cleverly designed to show the participants a variety of design principles without becoming a lecture. Kudos to the originator of the idea(s), and even more props to these students who are basically following the same routine of a small touring band; stopping from city to city and sleeping wherever someone will let them. More often than not, they wake up in a new city and hit the ground running: sharing their love for creativity, engineering and discovery one city at a time.

If you get the chance to check out one of their sessions, I highly encourage you to do so. If you don’t have kids, register your niece or nephew or pretend your child “got sick” the day of an event and go “in their place.”  It is that good.

So here’s to Sarah, Benji, Brittany, Steven, and the “do you know anyone with that name” Warren. You guys GOT IT GOING ON - keep it up!



Value as a measure of worth

bar-chart-iconI’ve recently been thinking about the value of “things” – physical items, business decisions, career choices and whatnot. I’ve come to a sort of conclusion that is probably stating the obvious : determining the value of something is not only personally (or socially) subjective, but can also be the catalyst of an extreme fanaticism which sometimes approaches religious fervor.

sidebar: No real gaming content in this post. I’ve been wrapped up in a myriad of “real life” situations which have – unfortunately – precluded me from getting much gaming in. I have been remiss in not posting anything in such a long time – but could not come to any convergence on the “right” thing to post and still keep the content relevant. I’m not sure how relevant this post is – but at least I’ve got pen-to-paper (so to speak). TL;DR : Josh waxes on philosophical about making priority decisions in the day-to-day life of a human being.

So the situation which got me thinking about the subject of value and worth came right from my family life. I have a teenage son who has become enamored with “limited edition” basketball shoes (primarily produced by Nike). Supposedly these things can fetch large sums of money in the secondary market due to their rarity (and desirability). Each style has a story along with some crazy color schemes and occasional esoteric materials. Frankly it strikes me as marketing genius – but these kids (my son included) – find them extremely desirable and are willing to part with large sums of money to procure them.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. Why someone would save up hundreds of dollars to buy a pair of shoes that they are then too worried about wearing lest they get stained, scratched or even wet is beyond me. This opinion of mine flew completely perpendicular to that of my number-one-son; hence causing familial tension.

I had to swallow my (what I consider) well-developed common sense and allow him to spend some serious cash (money he had saved) for a pair of these wundershoes. Both his mom and I took a big step back – sucked it up – and “let” him spend his money on this endeavor. The shoes came and he coveted them as expected. In fact, he is wearing them today (after dutifully cleaning them and making sure they shone like the sunrise). I then got to thinking about “how crazy it is” that he spent hard-earned money on something so….frivolous.

Somehow I began equating this to the things in my life that I feel are “worth it” to spend that cash on; and realized – pretty quickly – that value is, without a doubt, in the eye of the beholder. I look at what I choose to spend my disposable income on and compare them to my wife’s choices, or my boys, and it quickly becomes apparent that we cannot expect to understand how someone places a value on a particular product, idea or concept any more than we can expect to understand any abstract, highly personal emotion. Explaining to Amy why I consider routinely spending double-digit sums for comic books is the mirror-image discussion to her explaining to me why she needs another shade of nail polish or lipstick when she “already has a billion of them” (my opinion mind you!).

Value is intangible; emotional; personal. It is decidedly not a simple math equation – which is where we often resort to in arguments. Justifying our “value” of something boils down to a personal opinion – and we should take it as such. “Dad, I want the shoes…because” is as valid an argument as any ( even more than the somewhat lame attempt at convincing me they are a good “investment” because they can be resold later).

Now – bringing this back to a somewhat relevant post regarding Fair Game- the term value can (and often is) applied to our store. In fact “valuing” our business is a concept done quite frequently – banks and investors do it all the time in order to determine if it is a good idea to loan money or invest in a business. The fact of the matter is, many (MANY) people we discussed the concept of Fair Game to before opening our doors did not see how we could make it work. “How do you compete with online sales? Big Box stores? How many people will you really attract?”

And my answer now – as it was 3 years ago – is simply “we don’t compete on price, we compete on service”; which given my realization above could be rewritten as “We at Fair Game do not compete on price, we compete on value.” Value – that intangible immeasurable term which loan officers, investors and accountants have a hard time grasping with because it cannot be quantified.

But we feel that we do offer value. In as many different ways as we have customers. That – in turn – makes Fair Game a success no matter how you measure.

Before concluding (and I apologize for the length of this – congrats if you have stay tuned for so long!) I wanted to kind of come forward and explain my lack of presence at the store as of late. I recently took a new position in my “real” job which has me doing some wildly different things than I had been doing for the last 15 years. It is very exciting – and something I went into willingly – however it has meant that I have been traveling a lot and getting familiar with my new position. Luckily Eric, Amy and Richard keep the store running smoothly; Amy keeps our family running at peak efficiency; and everyone involved seems to deal with my (OMG – AS_OWNER_I_NEED_TO____) panic attacks in a laissez-faire way.

I’m looking forward to seeing where my new position takes me – as well as how Fair Game grows. We have some exciting stuff in the works for the store – including bringing in some new lines. It should be a great summer for all of us.

When things are a little less hectic I might even get to play a game or two!



All hail the duo!



I just wanted to make a quick announcement: Fair Game will be hosting a rather auspicious event early this morning before opening our doors to the public.

Our twin boys turned 10 this past week and we are celebrating today. Happy birthday Sam and Wil!

Never mind the Elder Gods – having kids will do a great job of driving you insane ;)

Love you guys!


Frantic preparations all around: TABLETOP DAY IS TODAY!


Yowza! March 30th didn’t really sneak up on us, but nonetheless, I’m surprised to see it here.

Today is TableTop Day all around the world! In case you haven’t heard the incessant cries of gamers everywhere, what this means is today is “officially” dedicated to playing games. Fair Game will be hosting all sorts of #FGTableTop shenanigans starting at 11am and ending around 9pm. There will be lots of games to play, achievements to…achieve, and prizes to win.

Also – for you Easter bunny better-late-than-never shoppers, try out something photo (2)a little less sugary for your Easter Basket and buy a small game or two for your little bunnies. Tomorrow (March 31, 2013), Fair Game will be closed for Easter (and to allow us some time to recoup from Spring Break and build some new Warmachine play surfaces!) so plan ahead!


TableTop Day at Fair Game – March 30th!

TableTopDay_logoYes, yes – a thousand yeses my precious! Fair Game is indeed hosting a thing for International TableTop Day on March 30, 2013!

What that is exactly remains to be seen. I imagine we will be playing a lot of TableTop featured games like Zombie Dice, Wits & Wagers, Tsuro and others. We might even break out Pandemic or Elder Signs for some nail-biting fun.

You do know about the Geek and Sundry show Table Top right? If you haven’t watched an episode yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. Wil Wheaton hosts a cadre of famous nerd-gamer actors and actresses playing a game each episode. It really is well done.

International Table Top Day is dedicated to gamers of all types. The idea is to just play games on that day – enjoy your fellow human. Interact. Socialize. Have fun! Felicia Day talks about it here.

Throughout the day we will be raffling off prizes including snacks, coupons and even free games. Most importantly, we will be playing games. Lots and lots of games. Stay tuned for more details!

(and yes, we realize the TableTopDay website does not list us as hosting an event; that isn’t our fault – honest! It appears that they are having issues with their event locator web-app. With any luck, they will get it fixed soon. But, in reality, do you really need to locate an event now? You know where to go! Fair Game for TableTop Day!)

See you soon!


One shot RPGs – This Saturday!


  • In the mood for a ‘quick’ role-playing game?
  • Do you have a hankering for something different?
  • Want to see what modern role-playing games are all about?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above – or feel like you want to observe (and maybe kibitz a bit) a bunch of gamers getting their nerd-groove on, come on down to Fair Game on Saturday February 23. Starting at 3pm, the Naperville Freaks, Geeks and Weirdos meetup group will be hosting a One-Shot RPG gathering right in our store. I think they even asked first!

“One Shot,” in this sense just means a single play session, rather than an episodic campaign – that way players can get a complete game done in one sitting. The NFGW Group has found a willing band of game masters to run players though a single play session of a variety of role-playing games. From science fiction, to espionage and – of course – fantasy, there is a setting and system for many interests.

If you just want to see what all the fuss is about, stop on by Fair Game after 3pm and just observe. All of our players are required to be friendly and respectful to all questions – lest they be sacrificed to the Elder Gods.

If you think you might want to play, I encourage you to register immediately as spots are filling fast. Below I will link to individual registration pages for the variety of games that will be run. Even if a system is full, feel free to get on the waiting list – you never know, someone might not show up.

Below are a list of the games currently scheduled to run on Saturday, February 25 at Fair Game starting at 3pm.



A one-shot adventure for the PARANOIA XP roleplaying game

PARANOIA is fun. Other rpgs are not fun. Play PARANOIA.

Need more? PARANOIA is an award-winning science fiction rpg originally released in 1984 but updated in 2004. A satire of politics, governments, economic systems, roleplaying games, and more big terms that you can shake a stick at, PARANOIA is unique among rpgs because you are NOT expected to cooperate with other players. Instead, you are expected to lie, backstab, trick, cajole, irritate, and bullshit other players all the damn time. (Except if cooperation would benefit you, of course.)  As such, players should be mature enough to face Catch-22s and betrayal without pouting or getting upset. Register here.


FATEFantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment, is a generic role-playing game system based on the FUDGE gaming system. It has no fixed setting, traits, or genre and is almost entirely customizable. It is designed to offer the least possible obstruction to role-playing by assuming that players do not want to make large amounts of dice rolls.

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. This adventure, based off the original S1-Tomb of Horrors AD&D adventure module and featuring characters from the popular 1980s Dungeons & Dragons animated series, is designed to be a quick and easy to learn introduction to the rules of the new FATE Core playtest. Register here.


Thirteenthage13th Age: Blood and Lightning

13th Age is a new fantasy roleplaying game, designed by Jonathan Tweet – lead designer of Dungeons & Dragons® third edition – and Rob Heinsoo, the lead designer of the fourth edition of D&D®.  13th Age honors old school fantasy role-playing values as it dives deep into rich story telling adventures.  The game features a familiar d20-style system, but it lighter on the rules compared to D&D which results in smoother, free-flowing combat.  An Escalation Die rule that keeps battles fast and exciting by giving characters an escalating combat bonus the longer they fight. Register here.


ep_cover_2Eclipse Phase: Ego Hunter

Eclipse Phase is a game of Trans-human Conspiracy and Horror. Designed by those fine gentleman and ladies at Posthuman Studios, the game is set in the far future where space is colonized and earth has been abandoned. Humanity has achieved functional immortality through the process of uploading their conscious (called an Ego) into a digitized state and then downloading them back into fresh bodies, called a Morph.

In this particular story and one shot, you will undertake the role of individuals set on Mars…. and… that is all you need to know for now. :) Register here.



World of Darkness is a modern horror game from White Wolf Game Studios.  This is the new iteration of their World of Darkness series, featuring the new version of their Storyteller system.   The mood of the game is a darker reflection of our world…crime is a little worse, corruption more rampant, hope a bit more distant.  The game system is designed with enough generality to potentially showcase any sort of horror story. Register here.


Wanted: Explorers willing to risk life and limb to seek out strange new worlds, survive fantastic adventures, and uncover lost and mysterious truths!

The Savage Worlds Game System is an open-ended role-playing game system created by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Its slogan is Fast! Furious! Fun!, which is exactly what it is designed to provide. It’s a simple, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use system that lets you get right into the thick of the action. Register here.


Red leader, Check Your Six! (or fifteenth)

Star-Wars-X-Wing-Miniatures-Horton-SalmWelcome to 2013! The first year in many previous years to contain 4 different digits. Near as I can figure, the last year to feature that was 1987; which is amazingly 26 years ago. But I digress…

Time speeds along at a breakneck pace. Fair Game has now been open for business for just over two years. Wow! We have learned a lot in the last 24 months; moved locations; hired some new people – and continue to marvel at how each new customer brings a new piece to our retail game. Still having fun too. Which – let’s face it – is kind of what we are all about anyway.

Speaking of fun – if you haven’t had a chance to sit down and play some of the new games we have on our demo shelves, do yourself a favor and stop in. We continually add new games – which sometimes may get lost among the plethora of other demos we have packed on the shelves. One game in particular has really taken us by storm – Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. This gem combines fast Lucas-inspired “aerial” combat with wonderfully detailed miniatures and typical Fantasy Flight flair. A game can take from 20 minutes to over an hour depending on the number of ships in play. Players can field a variety of Star Wars favorites including the X-Wing, Y-Wing, Tie fighter and Tie Fighter Advanced. More ships are on the horizon too – with the Millennium Falcon, Slave One, A-Wingand the Tie Interceptor predicted to arrive any week now.


For those of you already familiar with X-Wing Miniatures (or anyone else ready to jump on board), Fair Game will begin a league event starting Tuesday, Jan 15th at 6pm. The event, titled “The X-Wing Map League of Universal Domination!” will run over a period of four weeks. During the event, participants may play in battles against opposing factions, contesting regions throughout the known Star Wars Universe. Certain regions will gain the controller bonuses for as long as that region remains in their hands.


Although the event officially kicks off on a Tuesday, players can meet at Fair Game any time we are open to play officially sanctioned leagues games – reporting their results as soon as they are done. With any luck, I will have a web page showing the results in <sort of> real time.

If you would like more information, please send us an email or stop on in.

May the Force be with you!


Extended Holiday hours

Just a quick note letting you all know that for the month of December, Fair Game will be open on Mondays from 11am to 7pm and Saturdays from 9am to 9pm.