A safe and fun environment for all to enjoy
In 2015, with some initial funding from the Prince’s Trust, Sebastian Parkinson founded Atlantic Games, a face to face interactive hobby shop. The shop offers a place to learn, play and buy games such as Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, X-Wing, Dungeons & Dragons and Board games. But more importantly, it is a space where community and confidence can flourish.
Sebastian tells me that their goal is to help people and challenge the way people think about themselves and each other. The Atlantic Games ethos from day one has been to promote social equality and social acceptance, regardless of sex, age race or religion. He explains, “People can have misconceptions about one another which stagnate. If they are not challenged then people start to believe they are facts. So we aim to integrate people and promote genuine equality as opposed to society’s entrenched class structure, which keeps people down. We don’t force people to agree but one of our main messages is that you don’t have to like something that someone does in order to accept them for who they are.”
Sebastian, who also runs Pet Fayre pet shop on Gloucester Street in Stroud, was for a period of time manning both businesses until late each night but has since brought on five business partners. Mark, Bart, Ed, Stefan and Joe have brought with them ideas, energy and skills including DIY, app design, web design and fundraising. Sebastian now describes his role as Creative Director, helping Atlantic Games grow whilst staying true to its values, “We help people learn different skills, create family-like bonds and provide escapism. Our gamers are people from all backgrounds including those who might find it difficult to integrate, such as introverts and people with autism or social issues. Gaming is a mutual conduit which makes interaction easier. Humans have been playing games for thousands of years as a way of coming together. Games are a powerful tool for addressing feelings of depression and isolation. It can be difficult to strike up a conversation but games need to be explained and discussed and this helps build rapport. Suddenly the chat feels natural and people feel happier.
“We want to break the preconception that it’s nerdy or just for boys. We host gaming evenings where you can hire a table for £2.50, use the games and try before you buy. You can also use our space to host your own groups and come into our shelter, as it were! We host LGBT meetings, after school clubs and home education groups. We’ve helped Syrian refugees using translation software to read our games. We felt it was important to break the language barrier because they came from a hellish situation to a place where they couldn’t even communicate to tell people what they’d been through.”
Exciting changes have been taking place including the conversion of the stock room into a ‘banquet hall’ (in fact, a multifunctional room for Dungeons and Dragons and many other games and functions, including room hire) and the incorporation of a second store, Mystic Games, in Whitney. They have just expanded their space drastically with many new and exciting things planned and something really cool for wargaming will be coming soon!
With the continuing expansion, Atlantic Games will have something for everyone, utilising half of Stroud House, making it the biggest gaming facility in Gloucestershire – as well as one of the most open minded!