Nestled along the back side of the King City Plaza shopping center, just off Highway 99W and 116th Avenue, you'll find the new home of IMOGAP — the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery.
The museum opened its doors in King City on Sept. 18. But it will celebrate its grand opening with a party it calls a "THRAG" — which stands for "Twenty-four Hour Raffle and Game-a-Thon" — starting at noon Saturday, Oct. 21.
Although it's by no means a sprawling venue, the new location 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 converse.
"This place is going to be a little more streamlined to have just quality game space, play space," Carol Mathewson, IMOGAP's director of operations, said.
Mathewson, who operates the museum with her husband, Kyle Engen, has experienced some medical issues over the past two years; she has since had surgery and is doing much better, she said. 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, just a few miles to the south.
"We're very pleased to still be in Washington County," said Engen.
Although it's also home to many families and younger adults these days, King City was incorporated 51 years ago as a 55-and-older community, and as of the 2010 Census, more than 62 percent of its population was at least 55 years old. Those local seniors are a demographic IMOGAP would like to serve, Engen and Mathewson said.
"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 folk 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. 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."
He added, "We didn't, like, do marketing analysis and go, 'Oh, wait, there's a lot of retired people in King City.' We were really just looking for a space. But when that kind of came together, we were like, 'Wait, you mean across the street is the (King City Community) 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 thought of by many as 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). … People go, 'Board games? Oh, that's for kids,' or it's 'Hungry Hippos,' or it's 'Monopoly,' and it's like, 'No, no.'"
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.
Once everything is completely set up, Engen said, the museum 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.
This weekend's THRAG will feature a wide range of games, as well as prizes, refreshments, a silent auction, movies and music. More details are available on the museum's website.