The Game Master: A look at Richard Belanger

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When asked on how he defines a hero, Belanger said: "Heroes are people that do extraordinary things to help people."

BELLEVILLE – When one thinks about community events that bring people together, some might not consider tabletop gaming as a viable candidate.

For Richard Belanger, co-owner of the popular gaming store "Scallywag Toys", he's more than willing to open his doors for people wanting to play a game or two.

"We just try to be nice to people," Belanger said "We provide a safe environment for people to come and play that feel comfortable,"

He has been hosting free game nights in his store every week for eight years now, with various days being associated with different games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and other assorted tabletop games.

"We have 6 D&D tables going every Wednesday night," Belanger said. "So we have anywhere from 30 to 40 people playing Dungeons and Dragons,"

On some nights, Belanger says he sets up board games from his own store for people to play for free. Others will bring in their own board games.

He also explained that the demographic for those coming to play can vary drastically.

"Last night we had a 12-year-old playing and a 50-year-old playing," Belanger said. "The majority of our guests range from 20 to 40-years-old,"

But it wasn't all toys and games for Belanger.  Prior to him and his wife opening the store 32 years ago, he used to work for Atomic Energy of Canada in Ottawa.

"I worked with a little reactor called a SLOWPOKE, doing research and analysis for oil companies and other companies," Belanger said.

"SLOWPOKE" was the name given to small nuclear reactors that were designed for use in laboratories and universities in Canada.

After working for AECL for a few years, Belanger said it was time to move onto something else, saying that he and his wife initially thought about opening up a book store.

"We had an interest in books, and in children's books. But there was already a book store here (In Belleville)," Belanger said. "So we decided to go with toys and children's books."

32 years later, Belanger said he's perfectly happy with his decision.

"For me, I enjoyed the work," Belanger said. "Great people I worked with, and you look back and it was never as bad as you thought it was when you were involved with it, but it was just time for me to do something else."

Belanger said he's happy to provide people a place to learn about and play new games.

"I do what I do because I enjoy it," he said. "We just try to be nice to people,"

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