To all of you slogging back to classes this week, let me just say that I understand your struggle. Rising with an alarm clock is both cruel and unnatural; you’re not always going to love all your teachers; and the productivity block (also known as the horrors of procrastination) is --unfortunately-- all too real. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the number one gripe about returning to school: the added stress on your life. While a healthy amount of stress may provide an added incentive to finishing your assignments, an overwhelming amount can completely stifle your productivity – that precious, precious productivity. So, the question is, how does someone destress while also maintaining his or her brain?

Have you tried gaming?

It’s been established that video games contribute to players’ eye-hand-coordination. What’s more, healthy brain function has also been attributed to virtual and tabletop gaming. That’s right. Not only do games contribute to our Zen time, they also provide opportunities to improve your memory and learning abilities. Consider strategy games - StarCraft is a prime example. These require you to make real-time decisions (e.g., gather intel on your opponents, anticipate their moves, formulate a strategy) to achieve victory. Turning off your brain isn’t an option. And while the idea of strategizing might sound a bit daunting at first, you’ll find the game’s story and established universe sucking you in and easing you into your role within it. After all, I can’t say I often find myself leading a full-blown planetary invasion force ... I mean not too, too often.

Sounds like a nice reprieve from exams, right? But, where can you go in Topeka to satisfy this hobby?

I encourage both novice and hardcore gamers to pay a visit to BOOM Comics, Gamers HQ, Grog’s Games and Huscarl Hobbies and Games.

Gamers HQ

Gamers HQ of Topeka has a little bit of everything for your video gaming needs. It features three fully furnished lounges, all equipped with large TVs and surround sound. The retro arcade also contains some all-around classics. A few of these include, Joust, Miss Pacman and House of Dead. In addition to selling new and used games, Gamers HQ offers cash and trade-in prices on just about everything video game related. Looking for some friendly competition? They also frequently host tourneys for Super Smash Bros, Super Street Fighter IV and more!

Grog’s Games

Grog’s Games is the place to buy, sell and trade board games. Currently, they have several thousand used game titles in stock, ranging from the 1920's to current. Grog’s buys complete game collections or just a few games, your choice. They specialize in vintage and out of print board games. There is also open gaming every day. There is a in store game library, so either play one of theirs, or bring your own!

Boom Comics

Most of us would agree that comics seem almost intrinsic to gaming. So, it’s no wonder this local comic book store offers a variety of board games in addition to comics. Boom Comics also holds various game nights, including Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars Game Nights. Of their unique games selection, they currently offer: Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park, Runeboud: Unbreakable Bonds, Nemo’s War and Risky Adventure.

Huscarl Hobbies and Games

Huscarl Hobbies and Games is your place for tabletop games. They offer numerous board games, trading card games, role playing games, tabletop miniatures, and accessories. For those tabletop miniature gaming enthusiasts Huscarl Hobbies and Games has Warhammer 40,000, X-Wing Miniatures Game, Infinity Miniatures Game, to name a few. Be sure to come for weekly events such as, Magic: The Gathering Mondays, X-Wing and Wings (50¢ wings from AJ’ s Pizzeria), open gaming and demos.

Now remember students, game responsibly.

Want to level up? Plan to attend TopCon, Topeka’s original Geek Expo. TopCon is expanding to the Kansas Expocentre for Sept. 9 and 10. Learn more and make plans now.