A Different Kind of Dojo
By Will Walton
Nestled just off the Bryn Mawr CTA “L” stop is a dojo, but they do not practice martial arts here; instead people from all walks of life practice their moves in Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and countless other games when they visit the Dice Dojo.
The Dice Dojo has been a Chicago staple for more than seven years, according to their website. Tommy Cottin, a 25-year-old-manager from Kansas, said that they began small and expanded into the building next door. Today, the two are connected by a hallway and there is extra space for gaming in the basement.
Dice Dojo has over 1000 games that are completely free to play on its “demo wall.” All of the games are free to play, or demonstrate, as the name implies. The demo wall includes titles such as Betrayal at House on the Hill, Risk, Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, also known as D&D Next, and many others. Cottin said it was one of the largest, if not the largest, lending wall, in North America.
“With the exception of tournaments with prize support, all events are free. The owners believe in supporting the community at every turn,” Cottin said.
Cottin said that the idea behind the demo games is that community support will help sustain the free games.
Community is a large part of Dice Dojo and it is something that patrons enjoy.
Tyler Ward, a 31-year-old Chicagoan, said that he has been coming to Dice Dojo for two to three years. He said that what brings him back is the friendly staff and community, and there is a lot of space to play with friends.
Ward said that while he generally sticks with people that he knows, other groups he has played with are always open, welcoming and more inviting than other places that he has been.
Sean Foer is “The Magic Guy” at Dice Dojo, but he was a store visitor first. He said that he first came in his freshman year at Northwestern University for the launch of Innistrad, a Magic: The Gathering card deck.
Foer said he likes the fact that the Dice Dojo is half community centered.
“Yes, there is the store,” Foer said. “Half of the store is the demo wall. People will ask how we make money. I think that is a good question to be getting.”
Foer said that it builds community while at the same time the store sells its wares. People come and try board games and bring their friends.
Foer stressed the importance of community for gamers.
“It is like a safe haven,” he said. There was a time when it was tough to be a nerd, but now it is cool to be a nerd and a gamer again. Dice Dojo has always been a place where you can come and play. You can share with people who have never experienced it or who have been afraid to be a nerd.”
Dice Dojo was voted the “best game store in the world” by About.com in 2012 and the Community minded business of the year in 2009 by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce.
Dice Dojo is located at 5550 N. Broadway Ave #1.
Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: the Gathering guide. Friday nights are Dice Dojo’s Magic nights.