Perhaps no one understands how to build community better than AFK Games owner, Dan Wier. Over a decade ago, Weir opened his shop, which stands for “Away from Keyboard Games”, as a retail and play space where people could go to buy and play social games.
Most people would recognize some of these games as traditional board games like Monopoly, or card games like Euchre; however, they also include role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder, where players pretend to be specific characters who are usually embarking on an adventure. Another popular type of game people play at the shop is tabletop miniature games, such as Warhammer 40,000, that use miniature figurines and where players engage in battles.
AFK has a library of games that are free and open for public use, but they also offer different types of games for sale. They also host special events for different games, including weekly themed game nights and competitive tournaments. Coming in June, AFK will play host to a two-day Warhammer 40,000 tournament. These types of competitive play events attract participants from around the state, neighboring states, and as far away as Canada.
What Wier hopes people find most at his shop is a community of people who share common interests. This desire stems from his own experiences as a newcomer to the Holt area when he was young.
“When I was growing up in Holt, I moved here after elementary school and I had to make a new group of friends,” reminisces Weir. “I went to a place called Daggets Comic Shop. Going there and being around like-minded [people] allowed me to make friends and improve my social skills.” Wier recognizes that games teach young people many valuable skills – math, reading, problem-solving, critical thinking, as well as social skills and confidence.
“You can go buy games at [big stores]. What they don’t offer is community or a place to play and information about how to pick a game that will be a good fit for the people you’re playing with,” Wier says.
While AFK supports many types of games, they encourage video game play happens elsewhere, as their space is meant for more social gaming. The space is open to all age groups, free of charge. Reservations are not necessary. AFK does ask that any child coming to play games at AFK be able to leave the shop on their own if they are left to stay on their own; parents or guardians are encouraged to stay and participate in games as well.
Visit the AFK website to see what events are coming up at afk.games. AFK is located at 2495 Cedar Street, Suite 14B in Holt, 517.694.7328.