Since the 1970’s the gaming world has been shifting from the manual and mechanical to the digital and (more recently) mobile. The global video game market jumped from zero to $35 billion in its first decade and has since grown to $91.5 billion worldwide. Movies became games, games became movies and even those manual, physical, tactile games played on a board have found themselves being usurped by their computerized counterparts. From Solitaire on Windows 3.1 to Scrabble on the iPhone to Monopoly the Wii, no game is safe from the “progress” of digitalization. It seems in more cases than not, a roll of the dice has become the shake of a smartphone.
In a world awash with technology, Japan inarguably sits near (or at) the top. From Namco to Nintendo, Sega to Sony to Metal Gear Solid, it is an undisputed epicentre of the gaming world. Which is why, in this high tech, neon flashing, bustling metropolis of Tokyo, where cellphones outnumber people and eye contact is avoided, there is a shop that brings this all down a notch. And gets people interacting. Face-to-face.
Sugorokuya is game store like no other. Like no other in 2016 anyways. There were no doubt a lot more like it before the Atari 2600 hit the shelves. Sugorokuya sells a wide selection of games. Adventure, strategy, mystery, educational, RPG’s and more. In fact, there is only one type of game they don’t sell: Digital.
Taking its name from the backgammon-like game that was banned in Japan over 1,300 years ago–Sugoroku–the small company not only sells board games, it imports and translates foreign games (under co-branded packaging) and even designs and produces its own games.
Welcome to a world where you can buy games to play with other people. What a crazy concept–“actually social games”.
The staff at Sugorokuya are friendly and know their stuff. When I entered the tiny store, six of them were seated around the gaming table getting familiar with a new addition to their stock. They readily and capably handle all questions and can offer informed recommendations based on various criteria such as age group, number of players and whether language is factor. Some of them speak English, and you may be fortunate enough (as I was) to sit down at the gaming table and learn the rules from the person who actually created game!
Their original location is just on the other side of the tracks. It’s still there, operating as Su-Bako Board Gaming Space–a gaming room for demos, lessons and tournaments.
They have games for people of all ages and it’s a hands-on kind of place. Pick a game and they will gladly show you the rule and ropes–or snakes and ladders.
Specialty shop has 500 plus board and card game titles, including masterpieces and new classics from Germany, the US, France and more. Expert staff will happily teach you to play any of the games you’d like to learn.
Suginami-ku, Tokyo, 166-0002
Tel: (03) 5327-4568
Open: 11:00 to 20:00