When Game Empire’s owner Chuck Robbins passed away in February, his friends and fellow gamers couldn’t let the entrepreneur’s dream die, too.
“Chuck’s philosophy was that Game Empire would be a place where people could join a community of gamers and find friendship and support,” said Richard Chung, who worked as the store’s part-time bookkeeper. “He succeeded brilliantly.”
Recently, Odyssey Games opened, thanks to Chung, who serves as operations manager, and new owner Paul Zuber, in the same Pasadena location. Robert Hermann returned as the general manager. They’re dubbing it “our new 2.0 game store.”
“It took a lot of work and effort to make this happen, but I am thrilled about the future of our gaming community,” Chung said. “Paul is a member of our Game Empire community and it has been such a pleasure getting to know him and to hear about his plans for the store.”
Chung said Zuber intends to continue building the Game Empire community, with some improvements, like replacing the carpeting. Like the first floor, the second floor has gaming tables and pinball machines now.
Odyssey Games focuses on board games, puzzles, Pokémon, Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40,000, Magic: The Gathering, miniatures, and paint and hobby supplies.
Zuber has maintained its Newbie Night, Boardgame Night, tournaments, Pokémon Gym and other events.
“We have Newbie Night, where we invite people to come in on Tuesday nights to learn games, even though they may not have any experience,” Chung said.
“Not only do they learn the game, they meet the people. Tuesdays were our biggest nights before the pandemic. We have special events every night. Boardgame Wednesday, hobby nights on Thursdays, where they paint different things together, build models and paint little miniature soldiers together.”
Magic: The Gathering is played on Mondays and Fridays, and Sunday is family night. Saturday is set aside for role-playing games and special tournaments.
“For now, our gaming is limited to outdoors,” Chung said. “We have a few tents outside in the parking lot. Once the COVID restrictions are lifted, we will have about numerous tables in the building.”
Robbins ran Game Empire for 13 years and he was well loved. Chung officiated Robbins’ wake at the store on February 29, held the day before his funeral.
Robbins was a lawyer for 20 years, but after his father died, he wanted to spend more time with his family. His brother, Cliff, owns Game Empire in San Diego, so Robbins moved his family to Pasadena for the store’s second location.
Robbins’ wife, Jeannie, took over the ownership and running of the store, however, due to COVID, she closed it in May. After she shuttered it, her family encouraged Chung to find a new store owner to carry on Robbins’ lifelong dream.
Robbins once wrote, “I have played tabletop games for over 40 years and I’ve spent a lot of time and money on gaming. Unfortunately, a good portion of that money was wasted on stuff I didn’t really like playing. For that reason, I built Game Empire to be a place ‘where gamers help gamers.’”
Chung visited Game Empire for the first time in 2012 and feels blessed to be part of the gaming community.
“We really care for the community,” he said. “Community is a big thing for us. Chuck really wanted to build a community with Game Empire. He wanted gamers to make friends and to have people to play the games with. That was always a priority. The people here at Odyssey are the same people who got to know each other because of the community at Game Empire.”
He met Hermann and Zuber through the community. Chung officiated Hermann’s wedding, too. The trio said it’s important to keep this going.
“The fellowship we have with one another is an important part of life,” Chung said. “The fact that we have games as a common denominator really ties us together.”
Odyssey Games Pasadena
1795 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena
10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday
Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday