Plant City is now home to a tabletop gaming studio where the community has the chance to delve into the world of gaming in a safe and inclusive environment.
A gaming haven has just opened in the heart of downtown Plant City that will soon be making waves as the community signs up to be loyal adventurers.
The Side Quest, 110 E. Reynolds St. Suite 200, is open Thursday to Sunday and is changing the way the public views tabletop gaming. Essentially the gaming club acts as a location for friends, families and solo players to come in, sit down and spend an afternoon immersing themselves in a variety of beloved games. It also will feature merchandise for avid gamers to take home with them if they so desire.
“The idea of owning a game shop is every player’s golden dream,” Chris Mack, owner, said. “My wife (Jeanette Mack) is not one to sit on an idea. For a while we had always said that opening a place like this would have to be an ‘if we won the lottery fantasy,’ but as time passed we realized we needed to simply make this happen. The name The Side Quest is a nod to the gaming community. These are ‘quests’ you take that stray from the main storyline. In a way this is our side quest as well.”
Jeanette and Chris Mack are familiar faces in Plant City. They are the proud owners of Aromatic Harmony, a wellness center on Reynolds Street right across the courtyard from The Side Quest, and have long been a go-to location 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 with mental health and stress relief and the duo have decades of experience bringing games to the forefront for people of all ages and walks of life. They, along with two of their three sons (Patrick and Casey, Nikolas is currently serving in the US Navy), run the club for any who wish to escape from reality and immerse themselves in a game.
For many there is a misconception that game nights are something one leaves behind as you reach adulthood. A rapidly growing community of adult players, however, have proven that stereotype wrong.
On Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that allows donors to bring creative projects to life, campaigns for tabletop games and accessories earned approximately 32 percent more in 2020 than in 2019 — the above stated brought in more than $233 million in 2020, up from $176.3 million in 2019. Dungeons & Dragons saw sales jump more than 33 percent in 2020, which added to a six-year growth streak. Wizards of the Coast topped over $816 million in revenue in 2020 — a 24 percent increase.
The demand for in-person tabletop gaming experiences is increasing at an astronomical rate and many players are willing to commute hours to a gaming studio just to be able to sit down with other players and have a relaxing night. Tampa Bay has a handful of gaming locations for players to gather, but most operate under events, meaning if you want to come and play you pick an event they are hosting and then sign up.
The Side Quest has decided to do something very different and its revolutionary concept is already drawing attention from players looking for a more curated experience.
At The Side Quest you can pay a drop-in rate — by picking up a “booster pack” that acts as a set number of hours in the club — and swing by when the doors are open to play whatever game your heart desires 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 do so with ease at the gaming club as there are an abundance of games in-house.
The real magic at 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 random afternoon of fun with their friends. And The Side Quest is offering an abundance of incentives for those who sign up for one of the three tiered member options.
The Lone Wolf is the introductory membership that is designed for the player that wants to dive in headfirst to everything The Side Quest has to offer. For $15 a month you get 40 hours in the store per month, six silver credits a month (which is the currency used in-house), access to the store library, ability to bring a friend at a discounted rate and more.
The Adventurers membership is for you and a sidekick. For $25 a month you get to 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 get access to the library.
The Game Master is the membership every Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) has dreamed of. For $45 a 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 membership also includes 30 silver credits per month and access to the store library.
If you have a membership and find yourself running out of hours you can simply pick up a booster pack. Silver credits are used for unique purchases at the store — DLCs, Booster Packs, drinks, snacks and swag. You can earn more silver credits via the bounty board in the club. This board includes challenges that keep players entertained. For example, you can pick up a bounty by learning a new game or playing in a card tournament or bringing a friend that becomes a member. The bounty board is updated routinely and is a brilliant way to encourage players to try something new.
“We want to have a unique space for people who are interested in role playing,” Jeanette Mack, owner, said. “If you want to come in 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 will clean up after your group. If you want to play a board game with your kid after school you can swing by and set up at a table. There’s so many options available and we hope that we can kind of help deepen the love of gaming for some of our members and rekindle it for those who haven’t played in years.”
You can reserve a table or, as long as it’s available, you can ask to set aside The Bridge or The Dragon Room for a more private gaming experience for you and your friends.
For those who play D&D the benefit of having access to minis, maps, figurines, character sheets and above all else, a plethora of D&D books, is literally game changing. With a membership DMs can come in and use the abundance of books in-house in the library to plan their campaign.
They’ll also have access to Chris Mack, who’s experience with in-depth and intricate campaign creation on top of his wealth of knowledge of DMing makes him in many ways the secret highlight of the club. He said that down the road he hopes to offer a Game Master Academy for those who want to improve their skills. The couple have been DMing and playing tabletop games for decades and are eager to share their passion with the rest of the community.
Check out The Side Quest on Instagram, Facebook or its website, thesidequest.net, to stay up-to-date on upcoming events and sessions. Some of the planned experiences at the club include minifig painting nights, one-shots, scheduled card game nights and more.
You can pick up a membership or drop-in to shop and play by heading to the courtyard on N. Palmer Street right behind Aromatic Harmony on Reynolds Street. The gaming club is open now and you will have the chance to bump into Chris and Jeanette at both Central Florida Comic Con in Lakeland starting on June 12 and the Tampa Bay Comic Con starting July 30.