AMHERST – Worlds Apart Games, the first volunteer-run gamer collective in the country, is celebrating five years of success as a resource for teenagers, families and gamers of all ages.
The volunteer-based nonprofit opened in February 2008 and uses its space at 48 North Pleasant St., to create a safe place where teens and families can play card games, board games and role-playing games in which the players take on the personas of the game's characters.
General Manager Kiernan Gulick-Sherrill explained that the organization is dedicated to supporting the local gaming community and providing a safe space for gaming.
"It's a good alternative to a night out of drinking," he said. "It makes me really happy to see people playing games like that and to see little kids learning new games."
Gulick-Sherrill added, "We get a lot of parents who thank us for introducing their kids to games that make them think and games that aren't video games."
In its first five years, Worlds Apart Games has donated more than $500 in products to such benefactors as the M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury, the Game Hobbyists' League at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Excaliber Club at Hampshire College.
The organization itself has grown from 20 to 30 founding members and now has 1,500 paid and guest members.
The Pioneer Valley Gaming Collective and its small board of directors govern the shop, which is staffed by volunteers.
Members of the public are welcome to come in any time to play games in the shop's collection of more than 100 demo games, which includes games created by local designers, to use the free WiFi or to attend one of the free, weekly events.
Memberships to Worlds Apart Games are available and include voting privileges in the governing collective and a 10 percent discount in the store. Those memberships cost $20 for a month, $60 for a year and $150 for a lifetime membership. Guest memberships are free.
For more information or to buy a membership, contact Gulick-Sherrill at firstname.lastname@example.org