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Gamer’s Inn: A neverending social experience in Mesa

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At Gamer’s Inn, you’ll never hear “game over.” That’s because the local haven for roleplaying, miniatures, collectible card games, board games and computer LAN gaming never closes.

“We would close the store and no one would want to leave,” says manager and event coordinator Stephen Carpenter.

So the Mesa business decided to just roll with it and see what happened. The store on Southern Avenue just east of Stapley Drive has been around for about eight years. Located in a small strip mall, Gamer’s Inn has expanded over the years to gobble up neighboring spaces, adding plenty of room for gaming tables in addition to its popular $1-per-hour LAN computer den.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, the wide-open space will be invaded by The Alien Warrior, a sci-fi-themed stand-up comedian known for his appearances at Valley clubs and a stint on the 2008 season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. The event is free and is expected to draw around 100 people. It will be a busy evening for the large staff at Gamer’s Inn, which is also hosting a pre-release tournament for a new Magic: The Gathering expansion.

The store does big business in Magic packs and single cards, as well as Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and the Warmachine steampunk miniatures battle game. They have aisles of metal wargaming miniatures waited to be painted, and sell all the latest Dungeons & Dragons accessories — but lately that’s been giving way to Pathfinder, the popular RPG based on an earlier version of D&D. It’s Carpenter’s preference as well.

Gamer’s Inn has been able to weather economic turbulence by focusing on what it does best, offering a place to play and things to play with — even though that product inventory is as varied as they come.

“We’re here, and we’re horrendously dorky,” he said with a grin.

The store’s biggest draw?

“The social atmosphere.”

Indeed, Gamer’s Inn is a big part of the Valley’s geek event community, sponsoring the ever-growing Phoenix Comicon as well as Vul-Con, a new gaming convention in the works for 2012.

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