‘Escape into a fantasy world’: Mitchell man opens business for Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy gamers
“There are a lot of people in this culture in Mitchell, but there is nowhere for it to grow. That’s what I want this place to be,” said Ben Mcintyre, who opened The Guild Hall in May for Dungeons and Dragons and other fantasy tabletop games to be played
MITCHELL — Ben Mcintyre has hosted plenty of Dungeons and Dragons games at his Mitchell home over the years.
As the number of players continued to expand and outgrow his living room, Mcintyre felt it was time to create a much larger space in Mitchell dedicated for Dungeons and Dragons players and all fantasy gaming enthusiasts. In early May, Mcintyre opened The Guild Hall on Main Street, a space where he says “everybody leaves their personal things at the door and escapes into a fantasy world.”
“The hardest part about D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) is getting everybody together in one place with one person who is willing to sacrifice their house for a whole crew,” Mcintyre said, while watching a group of players square off in a game at 1307 N. Main St.
Dungeons and Dragons is a popular multi-player tabletop game that involves each player using a character of their choice to engage in battles and gather treasures.
“It’s a cooperative storytelling experience. It’s like choosing your own adventure with whatever character you want to be,” Mcintyre said of Dungeons and Dragons.
Since the game’s inception in the mid-1970s, Dungeons and Dragons has taken on a culture of its own and attracted gaming enthusiasts from across the globe. In his years of playing fantasy games, Mcintyre discovered Mitchell had its own rich culture of gamers.
Mcintyre credited the late Andy Ireland for helping build the fantasy gaming culture in Mitchell over the years. After Ireland’s death in 2019, Mcintyre said it left a hole in the local culture. But Mcintyre is determined to keep that spirit alive from the confines of The Guild Hall, where local anime clubs, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon enthusiasts have been congregating since the business opened.
“There are a lot of people in this culture in Mitchell, but there is nowhere for it to grow. That’s what I want this place to be,” Mcintyre said, calling it a “great community of accepting people. “That whole community has just been sitting here waiting for a place to go. They came flooding in when we opened up.”
To play Dungeons and Dragons and other fantasy role-playing tabletop games at The Guild Hall, a one-time $5 membership fee provides access to a myriad of games. The Guild Hall has five Dungeon Masters, more commonly referred to as DMs. Each game of Dungeons and Dragons is organized and led by a DM, who creates the challenges and details of a game.
“You’re playing to be a part of the game. What that does is create your character that lives in the Guild, which is in the folder we have here,” he said. “The DMs are all on their own agendas and try to recruit players to run in their world. There’s murder mystery and all sorts of twists.”
While Dungeons and Dragons is one of the more popular games played and sold at The Guild Hall, Mcintyre said Cyberpunk, Shadowrun and Star Wars are among other fantasy tabletop role-playing games that bring community members together at his new store.
Mcintyre said The Guild Hall isn’t a space solely for fantasy gaming. He brought in a few 3D printers for customers to create their own action figures and bring them to life. To create and print customized figurines of all shapes and sizes, there is a fee to rent the 3D printers.
“Whatever character your imagination can think of, you can make it come to life with these 3D printers,” Mcintyre said.
Providing a welcoming space
In the midst of the popular video gaming culture and computer games, Mcintyre said he’s noticed a lack of opportunities for people to interact with others without the help of a screen.
Although some of the role-playing games at The Guild Hall are available online, Mcintyre said “there's nothing like playing face to face.”
“There is nothing like sitting at a table with a group of players and watching each others emotions during the game,” he said. “Social skills have been lacking in our society. These games teach you social skills and how to interact with people better than anything I’ve experienced.”
Tabletop fantasy games have also provided a unique way for Mcintyre's family to bond. Seeing the games bring his family closer together inspired him to pursue his business venture.
"None of this would have been possible without the support of my wife and kids. You don't need a screen to connect and bond," he said.