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IMOGAP owners say they want to encourage older adults to visit and play games so they are thrilled to relocate to King City

TIMES PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - Carol Mathewson, left, and husband Kyle Engen own the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery (IMOGAP), which relocated to King City from Beaverton last month.Nestled along the back side of the King City Plaza shopping center is the new home of IMOGAP — the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery.

The museum opened its doors in King City on Sept. 18 and held a 24-hour "Game-a-Thon" celebration Oct. 21 for its grand opening

Although the new location is by no means a sprawling venue, it is both larger and more open than IMOGAP's old spot off Cirrus Drive in Beaverton. That means more tables to play games, put together puzzles and hold discussions.

"This place is going to be a little more streamlined to have just quality game space, play space," said Carol Mathewson, IMOGAP's director of operations.

Mathewson, who operates the museum with her husband, Kyle Engen, has experienced some medical issues over the past two years, although she has since had surgery and is doing much better. IMOGAP also grappled with funding issues last year, putting out a public call for assistance.

The couple ultimately decided that they needed to find a new home for the museum — an affordable space they hoped would not be too far from where they live in Beaverton — and they put together a fundraising campaign. Through the donations they received, they were able to sign a lease in King City.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kyle Engen watches as his wife, Carol Mathewson, opens a Win, Place & Show 3M board game at the new location of the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery (IMOGAP) in King City."We're very pleased to still be in Washington County," Engen said.

As of the 2010 Census, more than 62 percent of King City's population was 55 or older. Those local seniors are a demographic IMOGAP would like to serve, according to Engen and Mathewson.

"There's a lot of populations we can serve, and there's kind of a lot of pressure to serve the parents of young kids," Engen said. "And that's great, and we want them to come in and have a good time, and we've got lots of easy toys for them.

"But as far as a population to kind of cultivate and grow, we're much more attracted to retired folks and adult gamers, as far as people who can appreciate what we've got to offer, people who might be able to give something back, all those kind of things," he added. "So we'll continue to be kid-friendly, absolutely, but yeah, this population definitely skews older, and that feels good to us in terms of kind of improving our membership."

However, Engen said they did not do a marketing analysis to figure out there are a lot of retired people in King City.

"We were really just looking for a space," he said. "But when this kind of came together, we were like, 'Wait, you mean across the street is the (King City Civic Association) library and City Hall, and we're surrounded by retired people? That's a pretty neat population to be around.'"

While board games are still considered by many to be child's play, Engen and Mathewson couldn't disagree more. They point to a rise in more sophisticated games that are geared toward adults.

"The funny thing about the technology of video games being so good is that it kind of makes the old technology want to match it," Mathewson said. "The board games just get better."

She added, "It's amazing how many of these board games will actually keep pretty sophisticated, grown, graduate-student video-gamer types occupied for hours and have just as much playability (as video games)."

Engaging with games and puzzles is a way for older adults to keep their mental faculties sharp, too, Mathewson suggested.

"With an aging population, if early childhood education has a lot to do with how kids learn, we have found that with the aging population, staying playful and playing games keeps us sharp longer," she said. "It's a muscle. You use it or lose it. And so playing games is actually proven in some studies to help with memory retention."

Right now, IMOGAP is still in the process of filling its many shelves with the games in its vast collection. Engen and Mathewson said they still have quite a few games at home, as do some of the museum's other board members.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery (IMOGAP) is now open in King City.Once everything is completely set up, Engen said they would like to begin offering a library-style checkout system to allow patrons to take some games home. Such a system is already in use for puzzles, he said, and has proven popular.

The museum is a bit hard to find, because its entrance is in the back of the shopping center, away from most other storefronts. More signage is planned to direct patrons to IMOGAP, Engen said.

The museum's address is 15607 S.W. 116th Ave., King City. For more information, visit imogap.org or call 503-968-9998.

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