The storefronts of Spring Street tend to remain fairly static. While that “new place on Spring Street” always exists in the back of students’ minds, the iconic fixtures of “downtown” Williamstown usually remain the same for a student’s entire college career, and often beyond. As spring break drew to a close, however, and the campus reawakened for the final months of the academic year, a new store emerged that stands to become one of Spring Street’s defining locales. Purple Dragon Games is the brainchild of Williamstown native Niko White ’04, who hopes to nurture and provide a nexus for Williamstown’s tabletop gaming community.
Anyone — student, Williamstown resident, or passerby — is welcome to sit down in Purple Dragon and try out a game, free of charge. While some games are already conveniently set up, visitors can request to play any game in the store’s repertoire, and White is more than happy to oblige. The idea behind Purple Dragon is not just to make money selling board games, but to create an open and inviting space for game enthusiasts from all parts of the Williamstown community to enjoy their shared hobby.
While many students may be unfamiliar with tabletop gaming in Williamstown, it is a community with which White is very familiar. “I grew up out here,” he said. “I grew up playing these kinds of games, I had a lot of friends who did, and we all would have just loved having a place like this.” As a student at the College, he founded the Magic club (as in “Magic: The Gathering,” the most-played trading card game in the market), and went on to become an events manager at a board game store in Boston after graduation. After a while, he decided to come back to his hometown and start up his own store.
Purple Dragon’s first two weeks of operation have so far proved White right. His events for Magic and other games have been well-attended, and he hopes to expand his programming to have an event every day of the week. White has had plenty of visitors who come just to play, which is ultimately the whole idea behind the store. “You know, you don’t get into this industry because you’re like, ‘yes, this will make me my first million in ten years!’ or whatever – that’s not where you’re going,” White said. “Instead you’re like, ‘I really like doing this, and maybe I can pay my bills while doing this, in a place I really like.’ And that sounded really good to me.”
It has evidently sounded good for members of the community, as well. The Williams Magic club and the Williams Association of Role-Players (WARP) have been huge supporters of Purple Dragon, as well as other students interested in tabletop gaming who might not have been part of an existing community. “One of the things that made me really happy to be able to do this was, it feels really good to be like, ‘I can go back and put this thing in my hometown that’s something I wished had been in my hometown when I was growing up,’” White said.
Although the store has only been open for two weeks, White is confident about the future of Purple Dragon Games. Purple Dragon Games may soon become another fixture of the Spring Street landscape and serve to provide an outlet for tabletop gamers from all over the Williamstown community.