Mind Games

Clare

A family-owned business for 40 years, Mind Games is Australia’s first games store and is a Malvern institution.

Many local families have popped-in to buy a giant jigsaw puzzle for the holiday house kitchen table – only to find themselves picking-up stocking fillers and unique brain benders for hard-to-please relatives.

It is an Aladdin’s Cave of possibilities, full of modern gaming challenges, and traditional treats like chess and ‘Backgammon’.

Anticipating trends is essential for Lucas and Clare who watch fads come and go. ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ have woven their way back into teenage imaginations, and newer 15-minutes card games like ‘Rat a Tat’, ‘Sleeping Queens’ and ‘Beekeeper and Hoard’ are essential for the pockets of primary school kids seeking a quick, fun game before the bell rings at playtime.

Jigsaw puzzles take up an entire wall of the store with the worst (or best!) box containing 6000 tiny pieces of cardboard and the promise of a European village scene. “Puzzles are wonderful in bringing everyone together without being competitive,” says Clare. Recently, a customer asked for a blank white puzzle… Clare speculates that he planned to construct the puzzle, write a proposal to his sweetheart and then pull it apart – before presenting it as part of an elaborate engagement ritual.

So while spinners are on their way out, putty is in. Old fashioned knuckles are experiencing a resurgence and Clare really enjoys how a constant stream of local, older adults seek specific games from their own childhood so they can share the joy of, perhaps, ‘Snakes and Ladders’, with newer generations. “There are some very specific requests which can be hard to fulfil,” laughs Clare.

Clare, a rehabilitation nurse as well as the manager of the store, is fascinated by the possibilities of brain plasticity. “Gaming allows players to really expand their brains without being too studious about it. It helps their brains to continually function in new ways – the games are challenging without being a drag.”

When you visit Mind Games, there’s a real chance the person behind the counter has been to Comic-Con USA, having been immersed in the latest gaming, arts and culture. “We engage in all sorts of environments so we have a real understanding of passions and trends. We watch YouTube and also listen to our young customers – and our older ones – who tell us what they want.”

Clare and the staff welcome a steady stream of repeat customers who come to find out about new products. “It’s quiet enough that we are able to offer one-on-one friendly advice which makes this location just so special. No one is anonymous – we like to think we welcome people back as old friends.”

"Gaming allows players to really expand their brains without being too studious about it."