Nerdcore gives students place to unwind

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Nerdcore gives students place to unwind

Kajal Lang, For The Observer

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Terry Kamm sits across from his opponent in the back of Nerdcore, a toys and collectibles shop. The walls and shelves in the shop are decked with symbols from classic nerd culture. Posters from “The Fantastic Four” and “Lord of the Rings,” vinyl POP! figures and a wide array of board and video games fill the store.

Kamm is focused on the cards in his hand and his opponent. Kamm, a hefty, middle-aged man wearing a blue polo and Charizard hat, is being backed down by a teenage girl half his size. Elsa Caron stares at her cards while munching on a bag of sour gummy glo-worms. Owner Jason Shaw, a tall man with a goatee and glasses wearing a black and white flannel, overlooks the tournament taking place in his store. Caron’s mother is seated next to her, dueling somebody in the game that she and her daughter share an interest in.

Their moves are simple yet methodical as each of them works intently to get the upper hand. They alternate back and forth, drawing cards into their hands, trading blows with their Pokémon. Slowly, they whittle away at each other’s damage counters, which mark the remaining life points that each of their monsters have.

Eventually, Caron starts to run away with the lead and Kamm works desperately to stop her.

It is too late though. In a matter of minutes, she bests Kamm as she draws her final face-down card, signifying her victory. Kamm is not upset, however. Despite losing, a smile shoots across his face as he congratulates his young opponent and packs up his deck. These are the moments that he loves.

Caron went on to win this weekend’s Pokémon tournament. Shaw found a way to unite the local comic-book-lovers, card-game-players and many more by creating a fun place for them to escape to and hang out.

“We kind of pride ourselves on being more of a really calm, cool, relaxing atmosphere,” Shaw said.

Since opening his store in 2014, Shaw has worked on building not only a business, but an oasis for people of all ages to express their creativity through deck building and imagination-dependant games.

Kamm has worked with Shaw for years and runs the sanctioned Pokémon tournaments that take place every Saturday. Since 2004, Kamm has been conducting tournaments all over Washington, in cities such as Spokane, Ellensburg, Tacoma and Mt. Vernon. While the travel may be intense, Kamm loves what he does.

“It’s a lot of fun to see kids’ eyes light up when they open a card they want,” Kamm said.

It’s a mutual love for a game that allows people of all backgrounds to come together, meet and have fun.

The community, however, extends to more than just Pokémon players. During the week, Nerdcore also hosts tournaments for other card and video games, as well as dedicated nights for tabletop games such as “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Warhammer 40,000.” To expand the collection of tournaments, Shaw said he is hoping to start some more video game competitions to welcome a larger group of people. He mentioned potentially creating triathlon-style, all-day tournaments in the spring.

“It’s a good social outlet,” Brad Johnson, a CWU student who attends the Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments every weekend, said.

Some people go for the games, while others go for the community.

“It’s a very welcoming environment,” Johnson said.

This environment is something that Shaw wants to create for everyone who visits the store.

“A lot of shops get that niche or that kind of clique. This shop is not like that,” said Shaw. “Everybody who comes here and plays is always open and welcoming to new and returning players.”

To many, Nerdcore is just a store. It is a place where they can buy Pop! figures, board games or even pillows that looks like burritos. To some of the regulars, however, Nerdcore is their home away from home. It is their social outlet. It is their Tuesday night. It is the place where they can build friendships doing what they love and discover more fun things that they never knew existed.

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