I heard there was a new family game lounge in Taylorsville and that the owner, Derrick Jones, was a really great guy. I’d never been to a family game lounge, so off to Taylorsville I went.
Briefly, Blue Rabbit Cards and Games, which opened in early March, is a place to play board games, dive into the role-playing world of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), enjoy the collectible card game Magic: the Gathering (MTG), and partake of concessions like ice cream and snow cones. The lounge is clean, organized, and definitely a place all ages would enjoy.
There are large tables, a hundred or so board games, and items for sale to fans of D&D or MTG.
I have to fess up right now that I know nothing about D&D and MTG, except that all the people I’ve known who loved D&D were really smart — good strategists. That might be why I’ve shied away from it.
One of the first things Derrick pointed out as I looked around his gaming center was the barely stocked shelves, a result of his inability to get products into the place — definitely not due to a lack of trying, however. “Right now I’ve got about 600 pieces on back order,” he shared.
People are also reading…
“We are a D&D and Magic house,” Derrick pointed out. “This is most of the business.”
Derrick’s many board games are popular as well, such as Ticket to Ride, “a fun game for the family,” said Derrick. At daysofwonder.com, I read, “Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn.”
I wondered why a parent or grandparent or babysitter wouldn’t simply pass around bowls of ice cream at home and invite the kids to the kitchen table for a rousing game of Monopoly. Why take them to the Blue Rabbit, where players must pay to play?
“No cleanup,” Derrick said. In other words, when you and your crew are finished, it’s OK to simply get up and leave. Derrick will return pieces to boxes and boxes to shelves, and he’ll bus the table of drink bottles and food containers.
Another reason — and I really like this one: You don’t have to buy and store a bunch of games. “A huge variety without the expense,” Derrick pointed out.
The last reason, explained Derrick, is the opportunity for social interaction, which is especially important for homeschooled kids.
Derrick said there are no hard and fast rules at Blue Rabbit. “I want the kids to have fun,” he said. And so far, the players — children and adults — are well behaved and respectful of one another and of the gaming center. Derrick’s pretty much always on the scene, and he’s invited local law enforcement to drop in from time to time. Derrick said he wants the young people to know and trust them.
In the afternoons, Blue Rabbit has become the place to go for kids ages 12 and up. Derrick said parents drop them off and “go do errands.” He keeps an eye on them, and if they’re under 16, he doesn’t allow them to leave without their parents’ written permission. Plus, if someone comes to collect a child and Derrick doesn’t know him, Derrick asks for a photo ID.
He’s especially impressed with a certain group of high schoolers who’ve become regular Blue Rabbit patrons. Derrick said they consistently show up two or three days a week, and without anyone saying anything to them, they sit down, complete their homework assignments, and then select games to play. They particularly like Ticket to Ride and card games.
There’s one game that causes Derrick to cringe when he sees it being chosen: Jenga, the competition that requires players to build a slim vertical structure with wooden blocks — three blocks per level — and then take turns removing blocks without causing the building to collapse. Well, of course the thing eventually falls to pieces — and none too quietly either.
Derrick said D&D is played from 6-9 pm on Mondays and Thursdays, but it’s not the usual style of play that lasts weeks, months, or even years. At Blue Rabbit, players engage in one-shot games, adventures designed to be enjoyed in a single night.
“I started playing D&D in 1982,” he said. “I was 10. I’ve always enjoyed RPG (role-playing games).”
He also said he believes the game promotes “reading comprehension, mathematics, social interaction, and creativity.”
In addition, Blue Rabbit hosts weekly tournaments, such as MTG competitions.
And if you’re wondering, yes, Derrick plays games with his Blue Rabbit guests.
Why the name Blue Rabbit? “As a very young child, my nickname from my mother was Rabbit,” Derrick explained. “She chose the name for the game lounge.” She added “blue” because Derrick’s eyes are blue.
Owning and operating a gaming facility is somewhat new to Derrick, who worked in the food industry for 24 years, including managing area restaurants. “Then I started a concession truck — a food truck,” he reported. Derrick’s main offering was hot dogs. He and the truck traveled in and out of Alexander County, selling food at events in multiple counties. In particular, Derrick and his dogs followed Motocross races.
Derrick loves games, however, and when a friend asked him to be a silent partner in a gaming business in Taylorsville around 2017, he “fell in love with the environment and the people,” he shared. Some problems ensued, the most devastating being COVID-19, and the place closed.
When it was safe for people to start mingling again, Derrick wanted to open another family game lounge, this time on his own, since his friend had pursued a different career path.
“This is a place in a small community,” said Derrick, who knows just about everybody around town and is meeting all sorts of new people from downtown counties. They’ve heard about Blue Rabbit and are traveling into Taylorsville to play.
The game center has been well received. There are no video games, no arcade-like games, no alcohol, no trouble. “This is a social setting,” Derrick reiterated. “It’s geared towards family.”
About that time, Zeb Austin, his dad Todd Austin, and Zeb’s friend Wesley White strolled in, set up a game called Dice Throne, and began to play slowly at first, so Zeb could tutor Todd, who’d never played the game before. “That game’s addictive,” said Derrick.
Derrick Jones really is a great guy. He’s a people person: little people, big people, young people, old people. Hey, anyone whose little boy nickname was Rabbit has got to be nice guy.
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