Game on! Area tabletop gamers open space, welcome community

What started out as an informal gaming club among a few local buddies has gone to the next level, continuing on its quest of embracing a community mindset.

Although unofficially open about a month, the Snake Eyes Gaming center and store, in the Fiore Furniture building with other businesses on Cayuga Avenue, held its official grand opening Friday.

The 1,600-square-foot space has areas for playing many games including elaborate tabletop games such as the war game “Warhammer” and roleplaying games such as “Dungeons & Dragons.”

Customers can play whatever game they want, but other games specifically mentioned include “Magic: The Gathering,” a game played with collectible trading cards; the superhero-based “HeroClix,” and the World War II military game, “Flames of War,” according to a Snake Eyes Gaming press release.

The center provides open gaming space that includes ready-to-use terrain and gaming boards for miniature gaming, a video and movie area, and a separate room with a sign-up sheet for role-playing groups. The center will host events and hobby workshops, as well.

“This style of gaming, this is not just a regular board game or a regular card game or anything,” said gamer Tom Foley. “It takes card games and board games to a whole other level. It’s like when you were a kid you played with toys but then when you get older they have to get more sophisticated so this is like the more sophisticated version of toys that you played when you were a kid.”

The Hollidaysburg resident, 30, has brought in a “Magic: The Gathering” league to the center.

Snake Eyes Gaming is “attentive to our needs” and “very centered on community, very much providing an area that we can come in and we can play” without pressure to buy, Foley said.

“You can’t have something like this without people who want to play We want to make a warm and welcoming environment so that as many people who want to come out can, and play with other people and meet other people because it’s a social atmosphere,” co-owner Josh Turiano of Altoona said. “The more people that you have, the richer your hobby really is.”

In 2008, Turiano, Dr. Bill Olstein and Brad College, who met at a local gaming store, started the club, Turiano said.

Eventually they began holding their own gaming events, welcoming in fellow gamers Gary Klinger, Mike Mirobelli and Jason Bushore along the way. Events were held in Duncansville, Pittsburgh and Ligonier, an area with a strong gaming community, Turiano said.

Their largest event welcomed 62 people, which is considered a grand tournament in the gaming world, Turiano said. They started attending Games Day, a nationwide annual gaming event that is also held in other areas of the world, and winning awards.

This year, Games Day canceled its club tables and Turiano began hosting game nights at his home. With the birth of his son, those game nights came to an end, though.

Turiano, 32, and Olstein, 33, both of Altoona, Klinger, 39, of Bedford, Mirobelli, 31, of Pittsburgh, and Bushore, 39, of Claysburg, who all have careers outside of gaming, formed Snake Eyes Gaming, LLC, this year.

The company started out in a 300-square-foot space, but when 23 people showed up to play one night, they decided to move to a bigger space, Turiano said.

The club, which has also raised money for charity in the past, pays for the space and invites the public to play games there, Turiano said. Because the bigger space costs more, they decided to become a distributor of gaming materials to offset the costs involved.

Membership offers unlimited access to the space, and a 20 percent discount on material orders. Members sign a contract similar to a gym membership, their website said.

Members also have access to a hobby area with the tools to create game playing materials, and access to a lending library of books and demo games.

Membership costs $20 a month, or $15 a month, if paid semi-annually, or $12.50 a month, if paying for a a full year.

The gaming center is open to the public from 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays; 2 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Closing hours are flexible.

Klinger started gaming a couple decades ago, and he has evolved his play.

“You might start out with one game but then you find that you go to another one. The gaming almost becomes like your hobby. If you’re a gamer you play just about everything and that’s usually what happens, like I started playing ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ in the ’80s and then just kept going to different games and kind of picked up playing a bunch of different ones,” he said.

The attraction to gaming is the same as any other social hobby.

“It’s a break from everything that you’re doing normally … and just allows you to go and have fun with other people who share the same hobbies, and re-enact some of the scenes from what? Say, ‘Star Wars,’ and play with the ships and roll some dice and just have a good time,” Klinger said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.