Comic book store owners build community with gaming tournaments

Comic book store owners build community with gaming tournaments
Pokémon fans participate in a tournament at Knowhere Games & Comics in San Marcos store. Photos by Rebecca Sykes

SAN MARCOS — Comic books and gaming tournaments are a way to escape reality and meet new people. At least those are the goals for comic book store owners Mathias Lewis and Ken Slack Jr.

The owners of Knowhere Games & Comics in San Marcos, the store’s only employees, hope to create a community feel with their customers.

“This way we get to know our many great customers and change the store to fit their needs and desires where we can,” Lewis said.

As its name implies, Knowhere Games & Comics isn’t only home to comic books, but also carries games for tournaments. The store hosts tournaments for Pokémon, Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Weiss Schwartz, Fore of Will, Star Wars, Destiny and more.

Pokémon professor Chris LaJeunesse, foreground, helped store owners Mathias Lewis and Ken Slack Jr. establish the tournament.

Pokémon tournaments started in January for fans at Knowhere Comics.

Before they started hosting tournaments, Lewis and Slack met a Pokémon professor, Chris LaJeunesse, who taught them how to play Pokémon. Pokémon professors are official Pokémon USA-approved judges, tournament organizers and aides to stores running Pokémon events.

“He then helped us create a wonderful community of new players while getting our events sanctioned,” Lewis said. “Pokémon is now one of our favorite and highest selling games in the store.”

Gaming tournaments usually attract a large number of people who regularly play the game they’re competing in. An entry fee is required, which covers prizes. Players are randomly assigned opponents.

Lewis said that playing games with the same group of friends could get boring, so tournaments offer a chance to find new players.

“My favorite thing about the Monday night Pokémon games is that it has such a diverse group,” Slack said. “The ages involved are astounding in my opinion and I think that’s a really good thing. From my point of view, it’s a great look for the community.”

Participants typically are ages 16 to 22, but there are children who attend a sub-tournament, for ages 5 to 14.

“I see (tournaments) as mainly what helps the community thrive and grow, and I feel that’s really important,” Slack said. “Seeing people come from one game to another, or to bring friends that have never played something and seeing them learn about a whole new thing that they had no idea they liked so much, it’s magical.”

These tournaments are mostly attended by men, and the store owners hope to change that.

“Any opportunity we have to teach new female players we encourage as much as possible,” Slack said.

In addition to tournaments, Knowhere Games & Comics offers several tables for fans to play for free during store hours. Rooms can also be rented for gaming.

Knowhere Games & Comics is at 744 Grand Ave. in San Marcos. For the full list of tournaments, view their calendar on www.KnowhereGamesAndComics.com/.

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