Initiative roll | Observer of the City of Plants
Plant City is now home to a tabletop games studio where the community has the chance to immerse themselves in the gaming world in a safe and inclusive environment.
A gaming paradise has just opened in the heart of downtown Plant City that will soon be making waves as the community pledges to become loyal adventurers.
The Side Quest, 110 E. Reynolds St. Suite 200, is open Thursday through Sunday and is changing the way the public views table games. Essentially, the gaming club acts as a place for friends, families, and solo players to come in, sit down, and spend an afternoon immersing themselves in a variety of beloved games. It will also offer merchandise that avid gamers can take home if they wish.
“The idea of owning a game store is every gamer’s golden dream,” said owner Chris Mack. “My wife (Jeanette Mack) is not the type to sit down on an idea. For a while we had always said that opening a place like this should be a “if we win the lottery fantasy”, but over time we realized we just had to make it happen. The name The Side Quest is a nod to the gaming community. These are “quests” that you take that move away from the main storyline. In a way, this is also our side quest.
Jeanette and Chris Mack are familiar faces in Plant City. They are the proud owners of Aromatic Harmony, a wellness center on Reynolds Street just across from The Side Quest, and have long been a favorite place for holistic approaches to wellness in the community.
This new venture in many ways is just an extension of that passion for wellness. Gaming has long been linked to aiding mental health and stress relief, and the duo have decades of experience bringing games to the forefront for people of all ages and backgrounds. Along with two of their three sons (Patrick and Casey, Nikolas currently serving in the US Navy), they run the club for anyone who wants to escape reality and immerse themselves in a game.
For many, there is a misconception that game nights are something you leave behind when you reach adulthood. However, a rapidly growing adult gaming community has proven this stereotype to be wrong.
On Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that allows donors to bring creative projects to life, campaigns for tabletop games and props gained around 32% more in 2020 than in 2019 – the above has grossed over $ 233 million in 2020, up from $ 176.3 million in 2020-19. Dungeons & Dragons saw sales jump over 33% in 2020, which added to a streak of growth of six years. Wizards of the Coast surpassed $ 816 million in revenue in 2020, an increase of 24%.
The demand for in-person tabletop gaming experiences is growing at an astronomical rate, and many gamers are willing to spend hours at a gaming studio just so they can sit down with other gamers and have a relaxing night’s sleep. Tampa Bay has a handful of gaming locations for gamers, but most operate under events, which means if you want to come and play you pick an event they host and then sign up.
The Side Quest has decided to do something very different, and its revolutionary concept is already catching the attention of gamers looking for a more organized experience.
At The Side Quest, you can pay an entry fee – by purchasing a “booster pack” that acts as a set number of hours in the club – and spend when the doors are open to play any game you want. your heart longs for as long as there is an open table. Whether you want to play Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, UNO, or even Candy Land, you can easily do so at the game club as there is an abundance of games in-house.
The real magic of The Side Quest – and the aspect that will more than likely make it a highly sought after destination – comes from the unique membership options available. Serious gamers will want more than just a fun afternoon with their friends. And The Side Quest offers an abundance of incentives for those who sign up for one of three tiered membership options.
The Lone Wolf is the introductory subscription designed for the player who wants to dive head first into all that The Side Quest has to offer. For $ 15 per month you get 40 hours in the store per month, six silver credits per month (which is the currency used internally), access to the store library, the ability to bring a friend to a reduced rate and more.
The Adventurers membership is for you and a sidekick. For $ 25 a month, you can bring whoever you want with you every time you come. You get 32 hours to use in visits per month, receive 15 silver credits per month, and gain access to the library.
The Game Master is the membership that every Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) has dreamed of. For $ 45 per month, you get 16 hours of visits per month and can bring up to five friends for free. You can add additional friends for a discount. The subscription also includes 30 silver credits per month and access to the store library.
If you have a subscription and are running out of hours, you can just buy a booster. Money Credits are used for one-time purchases in the store – DLC, Boosters, Drinks, Snacks, and Loot. You can earn more Silver Credits through the club bonus table. This board includes challenges that keep players entertained. For example, you can earn a bonus by learning a new game or participating in a card tournament or bringing a friend who becomes a member. The bounty table is updated regularly and is a great way to encourage players to try something new.
“We want to have a unique space for people interested in role-playing games,” said Jeanette Mack, owner. “If you want to come and play a campaign or a one-shot with Dungeons & Dragons, you don’t have to worry about bringing your own stuff, you can use what we have here and we’ll clean up after your party.” If you want to play a board game with your child after school, you can come by and sit at a table. There are so many options available and we hope we can somehow help deepen the love of the game for some of our members and rekindle it for those who haven’t played in years.
You can reserve a table or, while it is available, you can request to reserve The Bridge or The Dragon Room for a more private gaming experience for you and your friends.
For those who play D&D, the perk of having access to minis, maps, minifigures, character sheets and most importantly, a plethora of D&D books, is a game-changer. With a membership, DMs can come in and use the abundance of in-house books in the library to plan their campaign.
They will also have access to Chris Mack, whose experience in creating deep and complex campaigns along with his vast knowledge of DMing makes him in many ways the club’s secret highlight. He said that in the future he hopes to offer a Game Master Academy to those who want to improve their skills. The couple have been DMs and playing table games for decades and are eager to share their passion with the rest of the community.
Discover The Side Quest on Instagram, Facebook or his website, thesidequest.net, to stay informed of upcoming events and sessions. Some of the experiences planned at the club include minifigure painting nights, one-shots, scheduled card game nights and more.
You can purchase a membership or go shopping and gaming by heading out to the courtyard on N. Palmer Street just behind Aromatic Harmony on Reynolds Street. The gaming club is open now, and you’ll have the chance to meet Chris and Jeanette both at Central Florida Comic Con in Lakeland starting June 12 and Tampa Bay Comic Con starting July 30.