Richmond is a playground. We’ve got your league games, social games, childhood games, table games, arcade games, board games, mind games. We’ve got games we can’t pronounce and games that are excuses to drink, and hyper-competitive, smile-through-bared-teeth, this-is-not-really-a-game games. So many games we can’t list them all. (So, show us what you’ve got at email@example.com.) We may have grown up, but we didn’t get old.
Kevin Kuntz, aka KRK, 28, of Richmond, winner of the2016 North Carolina International Flipper Pinball Association Tournament. (Photo by Adam Ewing)
Pinball: Pinball in Richmond can be summarized thusly: Two leagues, River City Flippers and Balls of Steel, both with waiting lists to join. Two pinball podcasts: This Flippin Podcast and For Amusement Only. And not enough public places to play. “Basically, the Pour House has two machines and Center of the Universe has three,” says Chris Booberg, River City Flippers league co-founder. Enter the Richmond Pinball Collective, which seeks a public, permanent space for pinheads. “Other cities have barcade-type things with tons of machines,” says the
collective’s Clark Fraley. “We just want to have something like that in Richmond.” facebook.com/richmondpinballcollective
Video Games: So, perhaps this is technically not within the arcade category, and is separate from the subset of the retrogaming community that would collect, say, a classic Atari game. But The Forge is a Henrico County arcade specializing in anime, video games and weekend gaming tournaments. Think Super Smash Bros. “We’ve got players who come from Northern Virginia, Virginia Beach and North Carolina,” says owner Chan Simpson. “In Richmond, we’re one of a kind, as far as video games go.” And it’s open daily. If you’ve got the game, they’ve got the PC for two bucks an hour. “Eat, sleep, play video games, that’s what we do,” Simpson says. rvaforge.com
Photo by Justin Vaughan
Bingo: Put on your lucky pair of socks because bingo is a game of chance. It’s a social form of the lottery – in fact, the word “lottery” derives from bingo’s Italian predecessor. Cross your fingers at multiple games a week at Pop’s Bingo World (232-2000) on Midlothian Turnpike or Overhill Lake Bingo (798-3445) in Glen Allen. Diversity Bingo hosts Thursday games at Diversity Richmond, and Sticky Rice has speed “blingo” late Wednesday nights.
D&D and Magic: The Gathering: Though very different games, these two share many fans.
To play D&D, all you need is a pencil, a rulebook, and some polyhedral dice. It’s a structured, but open-ended, role-playing game. Magic is a resource-based strategy game that requires the collection of cards. One Eyed Jacques (359-5163) in Carytown can answer your questions. They offer table space for both on Wednesday evenings, as well as Friday night tournaments that attract up to 60 people.
Spades: Brandy Cramer, Central Virginia Spades Players founder, explains the game like this: “A card game that’s very similar to hearts; basically, you’re trying to win books [aka tricks, aka rounds of play] and spades are the trump.” Spades is popular in the area’s African-American community, but the appeal is widespread. Cramer says the group has more than 1,000 members and regular playing events. Newbies to card sharks are welcome. meetup.com/spades-804
Mahjong: Originating in China, mahjong shares ancestry with draw-and-discard card games like rummy. The rapid movement of tiles, its cognitive difficulty and the popularity of marathon sessions in crowded parlors have been known to cause “mahjong epilepsy” in serious players. No seizures yet, thankfully, at the relaxed sessions in Henrico County: Fridays, 1 to 4 p.m. at Deep Run Recreation Center and Wednesdays, 1 to 4 p.m. at Walkerton Tavern.
Richmond Table Tennis Club player Tao Li. (Photo by Ash Daniel)
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Austin Pfaff, River city Disc Golf Club and 2014 Professional Disc Golf Association Men's Rookie of the Year. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Disc golf: Disc golf is still a mystery to most people, despite its similarity to traditional golf. Players throw flying plastic discs and aim at metal “chain baskets” a few feet off the ground and hundreds of feet away. The River City Disc Golf Club organizes local leagues and major tournaments, such as the recently completed Tour de Richmond. rvadiscgolf.yolasite.com
Volleyball: The Richmond Volleyball Club started in 1981 with four courts in a warehouse. It’s now housed in a state-of-the-art facility with 12 courts and 3,000 members. Try the new starter league, says marketing and communications manager Jonnie Stone. “You don’t have to have experience or have a team or anything.” Come, have a beer, knock a ball around.
Danielle Easley, Richmond Volleyball Club. (Photo by Jay Paul)
“We’re really just a bunch of beer drinkers with a volleyball problem.” rvc.net
Roller Derby: The River City Rollergirls celebrate one whole decade of rollergirl realness this year. The league has gone from large to small, and is rebuilding again with about 26 skaters now, says marketing director Meaghan Hackney, aka Ruby Rottweiler. “We all get into it because we love it and we are competitive,” she says. The next home game is June 25 at Shooters Indoor Sportsplex.
Kasey Richardson aka Shades of Pain, River City Rollergirls. (Photo by Jay Paul)
The team is always recruiting. rivercityrollergirls.org
Rugby: Rugby is big in Richmond. We’ve got the college teams, plus the Richmond Lions, a Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union Division II competitive team and James River Rugby, which plays Division III ball. Both clubs started here in the ’60s; both are pathways to the national and Olympic teams, and both welcome newcomers. “Just come and play,” James River coach George Durocher says. “All ages, experiences and athletic ability, there is a place for somebody and for everybody.” facebook.com/RichmondLions, jamesriverrugby.net
Adam Floyd, James River Rugby (photo by Jay Paul).
Social Leagues: Wiffle ball is the fastest growing of the dozen adult league sports on the roster at River City Sports & Social Club. “It’s fun and fast-paced, unlike baseball, which is slow and boring,” says RCSSC founder Sean Small. RCSSC’s partners include the Sports Center of Richmond, which also offers various adult league games. WAKA Kickball & Social Sports also is registering for its summer kickball season, which starts July 8. rivercityssc.com, scor-richmond.com/leagues, kickball.com/richmond
Ashley Kowalski, River City Sports & Social Club (photo by Jay Paul)
Troy Overby of Odds and Ends Bowling League (photo by Jay Paul)
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Kickball: Let us be frank. These are childhood games if childhood involved the drinking of Bud Light. “I mean, our logo is a beer mug holding a beer mug,” says Sean Small, River City Sports & Social Club founder, owner, president and member. Small started the RCSSC in 2004 with eight kickball teams. Now, the summer season, which starts this month, sees about 200 teams, all co-ed. See also, the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) Kickball & Social Sports, now open for summer-season registration. kickball.com, rivercityssc.com
Dodgeball: Winter is dodgeball season, but summer play starts next month. RCSSC organizes outdoor games at metro-area parks. Indoor games are at the Sports Center of Richmond, (1385 Overbrook Road). Small says the sport fields about 150 co-ed teams year-round. “It’s a foam ball, so it doesn’t really hurt,” he adds. “It hits you and you’re kind of like, ‘Ow?’” rivercityssc.com
Croquet: Less like the “Alice in Wonderland” version with its flamingo mallets and more like the ruthless game played in “Heathers,” six-wicket croquet is serious $%@! It’s an elegant mash-up of chess, billiards and golf played in all-white clothes on a flat green carpet of Bermuda bent grass. Don’t let age or infirmity fool you; a doddering octogenarian with keen wits will best a strong-armed youngster any Thursday at 10 a.m. or Sunday at 1 p.m. in Highland Springs. Email Urchie Ellis, Confederate Hills Croquet Club president, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Jay Paul
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Stacey Firefly, as told to Tina Griego
Photo by Hannah Huddle
Quidditch: There’s no magic to winning in quidditch: It’s an athletic, competitive contact sport based on the flying broomstick version of the Harry Potter series. Coed teams astride brooms throw a slightly deflated volleyball through the opposing team’s hoops for points. The Wizengamot Quidditch Club of VCU brought it to town in 2008, and the University of Richmond soon joined the fun. All muggles can train with Richmond Community Quidditch (RVAQ) Wednesdays at Petronius Jones Park from 5:30 to 7 p.m. email@example.com
From left: pickleball, bocce and larping. (Illustrations by Rob Ullman)
Pickleball: Invented in 1965 with a badminton court, a Wiffle ball, and plywood paddles, pickleball has a fervent following among Richmond seniors. A small-scale version of tennis, it’s easier on the joints but still aerobic. Henrico has open gym senior pickleball at Deep Run Recreation Center (8:30 a.m. to noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and at Eastern Henrico Recreation Center (9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays). Chesterfield has all-levels senior leagues countywide and at their new Rockwood Park eight-court pickleball center. Pam Kempf, Henrico, 501-5149 and Judy Jones, Chesterfield, 751-4135
Bocce: Derived from the same ancient sport of throwing balls at other balls, bocce is the Italian cousin of French pétanque. Simple rules and cheap sets – buy a plastic one for $20 – mean all you need is a swath of grass, some friends, and one free hand. Major League Bocce came to Richmond in 2014 and organizes 16 teams almost year-round. The summer season starts June 22 at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Contact Anne-Stuart Teter. firstname.lastname@example.org
LARPing: To LARP is to live-action role play; think of it as structured, costumed pretending for adults. And that’s about as specific as it gets. While often based on books or movies, LARPing is not about reenacting a story, but building on an alternate, oft-fantastical universe – and inserting yourself. This summer, the University of Richmond becomes the New World Magischola, a college of wizardry LARP, set in a Harry Potter-esque universe. Four, four-day sessions in June and July. magischola.com
Church Hill resident John Whitworth lets fly his boule. (Photo by Jay Paul)
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