I used to get rocks thrown at me for wearing torn jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt in the 80’s. People always hate different.
At the MCRAW event held at Manipal University in May, B-Change caught up with Omar Al Sharif, the ever-so-cool founder of Geeky Lizard – an up and coming retail store and community for gamers in the UAE. Created out of pure passion for gaming [role playing, table top, card trading – you name it] and all the fringes that come with ‘geekdom’ [comic books, action figurines, anime], Geeky Lizard isn’t just a store, it’s a community for gaming in Dubai.
Growing up, he says was alienated because he was so different and gaming played a very crucial role in socializing. “I used to get rocks thrown at me for wearing torn jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt in the 80’s,” Omar recalls. He used video games to interact with others, as he puts it “to have adventures outside my house.”
Take a look at our interesting little chat:
What makes board games special?
Honestly, board games have made my life better. I used to party all the time and I should have died four times by now. It’s not a laughing matter. Then, my friend introduced me to D&D in 2007 and that lifestyle is almost at an end, if not ended already.
The community of gaming has improved the lives of so many of my customers – players with clinical depression, who dropped out of school have gone back because board games have made their lives friendlier and taught them to handle tough situations. Players with autism, negative attitudes. We’ve even had a recent engagement of two players who met through D&D. That’s just what board games do to you.
The same can be said of video games, even though to makes you oblivious to the people around you. You can meet a soulmate only if share the same taste in gaming. You know, people have travelled across the world for tournaments to meet people they’ve played online with for years.
What inspired you to start Geeky Lizard?
I was 8 years old with my cousin watching some anime and we were sick of asking our parents from their travels to bring us the geeky stuff; you know, comic books, action figures we always see on TV but we couldn’t get in Dubai – this was in the 80s. So, we told ourselves as kids that ‘when we grow up, let’s open our own store’.
Now, it’s the opposite: plenty of stores, but overpriced. There was one store that opened and I didn’t like their attitude towards players – towards myself. They were very spiteful – like it [gaming] wasn’t good and I thought that my people deserve a similar business but better quality, better standard – and with a better attitude.
What’s your favourite video game?
It’s like asking ‘What’s your favourite shawarma?’ They’re all good. It’s the shawaarma! Growing up though, I would say Zelda, SuperNintendo gave me a lot of adventures. As a child, I had tears in my eyes at the end of Secret of Mana, because it was what I sought after – companionship.
“Being an ex-body builder, trained in martial arts, I’m not ashamed to admit that anime and video games can make you cry – because it’s good storytelling.”
If you’d like to get involved with the Geeky Lizard community and participate in tournaments, check out the Geeky Lizard Facebook page.
Do you have any interesting stories about your RPG experience? Tell us about your favourite RPGs and table top games in the comments below.