About a year ago, Amy Seymour felt isolated and lonely.
Self-employed and living in Mount Stewart with her husband, she was looking to connect with others. So, in January 2019, she showed up at Small Print Board Game Café for its weekly game night.
It changed her life.
She made new friends and got out of the house at least once a week to meet and play games with them.
Now, as the owner of Small Print and in the midst of a global pandemic, she’s looking to use gaming to help others connect.
“Because of its impact on me I recognize that … there really is a huge opportunity here for us to grow our community and for people to discover new ways to connect with each other," she said.
"Even if it isn’t at the café … there’s still value in building that community on the Island, I think.”
Keeping the Small Print community together is trying. It’s a community built around people being physically together, sitting at tables and playing communally available games.
It’s as close to a no-technology zone as can be, said Seymour.
“We don’t even give out our Wi-Fi password because we don’t want people to be on their phones and online when they’re in the café.”
Online gaming isn’t something Seymour is used to, so she’s relying on members of the Small Print community, like Pep MacDonald, for help with online resources for those wanting to keep playing board games together.
Living alone in Montague, MacDonald hasn’t really seen his friends in person since Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, first asked Islanders to practice social distancing.
Much of MacDonald’s socializing pre-coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) involved games, from Small Print’s game nights to weekly Dungeons & Dragons-style sessions hosted at his house to playing video games online.
When asked about a non-game-related activity, he had a hard time coming up with something he would do instead. He then laughed and suggested hiking.
“I don’t know how to socialize without gaming at this point. I think my life has gotten too ingrained with it.”
But games are helping him stay in touch. He even helped Small Print host a semi-impromptu online party game, Jackbox, in lieu of their usual game night on March 19, he said.
“We had six people we knew … and because it was (online), a couple strangers actually popped in and started playing with us too. And that was pretty cool.”
There was a repeat Jackbox night on March 26 and then on March 28, Small Print hosted a Brooklyn Nine-Nine themed trivia night.
More than 100 teams submitted answers, including folks from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, said Seymour.
“I went to bed with a smile on my face (Saturday) night just knowing everybody had a good time.”
Small Print has also launched an online store with contactless delivery and it looked into board game rentals, but they aren't feasible as they're impossible to disinfect.
But Seymour continues to look for ways to help. Anything to keep people connected, she said.
“Small Print might not survive, but the community will.”