In March 2012, after five years as an online-only retailer, we opened a little gaming space called Covenant Tulsa. It was our entry into an entirely new world of brick and mortar game stores.
Almost immediately, we started receiving a surprising number of calls. People wanted to know what we sold, what events were happening, and how we made money without selling Magic. You know, the usual.
But over time, the calls started shifting to questions about who was in the store and what they were playing. “Anyone there for Game of Thrones?” and “You know if anyone is coming in tonight for X-Wing?” became the norm.
Given the minimal staff at the time and the close-to-overwhelming volume of calls, we recognized the need for tools that solved as many questions as possible before help was needed.
This led us to streamline our event calendar and league, simplifying both and making them universally accessible online. We also created the Covenant Tulsa Players Facebook group so local players could coordinate when and what they would be playing at the store.
While the Facebook group was (and still is) extremely useful, it was all too common that someone would show up, post to the group, and not find another person to play with. The number of replies to a “playing in the store tonight!” post that equated to “sorry I missed this – would have been there but saw this too late!” became a clear sign that Facebook was only a piece of the puzzle.
Local players needed an easier, faster way to connect, and it all revolved around access to some very basic information.
Before making a trip to the store, it would be extremely helpful to know:
- Are there people playing right now?
- What games are they playing?
- How long will they be there?
While at the store, it would be extremely helpful to let others know:
- I am here and looking to play the following games.
- I am testing for an event, looking for casual games, building weird decks, etc.
- I will be here until this time.
So we built a platform that seamlessly allows for this exchange of information to occur. Introducing the beta version of Covenant Play – now available to all local players!
Covenant Play is a browser-based, mobile-optimized tool on our website that allows you to instantly communicate the most important details of your in-store gaming experience. Check out how easy it is to use!
First, when you arrive at the store, sign in to Covenant Play at playing.teamcovenant.com, accessible via “PLAY” in the header. This requires a free Covenant account and a one-time authorization for Covenant Play to access that account.
Once signed in, click Start Playing.
This pops up a modal in which you enter all relevant information, starting with the games you want to play. You can choose from any of our supported games, as well as a fully-customizable Board Game and Other Game field.
Once you have chosen the games you would like to play, let others know that you will be Playing Until a certain time. You will automatically be signed out at that time.
Next, you have the option to provide a custom Message that gives context to the experience you are looking to have. Just want to play some fun decks? Needing to test a certain list heavily before a competitive event? Hoping for 2 more players to join your Dungeons & Dragons campaign? New to a game and needing a teacher? List it here.
Finally, you can choose to display the name associated with your Covenant account or simply be listed as Anonymous. Whether or not your visit is public information is completely up to you – and you can find players regardless!
When you click Check In, your name is added to the list of players on the Playing Now page. Other players can now see the games you want to play and head down to the store to join!
We are truly excited to get Covenant Play into your hands. As noted above, though, this is still very much a beta release in active development. Our product roadmap on this is extensive, and we have big plans for where it goes next.
Those choices will be influenced by how the Tulsa community uses it and whether or not it is effectively solving the problems listed above. There is only one way to know for sure, and that is to release it and observe.
So what are you waiting for? Start playing!