Pe Metawe Games hopes to get more people involved in gaming
Patch Adams once said, “Being happy is the best cure for all diseases!” Happiness also allows people to open up to others and feel less alone. This is what Pe Metawe Consulting has done.
Pe Metawe means come and play in Cree. “We started Pe Metawe Consulting as a way to better engage community members, particularly Indigenous communities, but not exclusively,” says David Plamondon, engagement specialist and team guide with Pe Metawe Consulting/Games. “Our goal originally was to work with youth and help develop life skills by developing and delivering workshops that utilize tabletop games as a way to get better engagement and, hopefully, reinforce some of the life skills that we are building out of the workshops.”
Co-owners Plamondon and Jayde Gravel started Pe Metawe Consulting in April 2019 and moved into an office space on 132 Avenue in November 2019. They re-signed their lease in November. “This was right before we found the location on 118th Ave.”
The goal is for all their operations to be located in the 118 Avenue location.
“None of the other neighbourhoods we looked at had that same community feel that 118th Ave had. That’s really what we wanted,” Plamondon says. With a higher Indigenous population living in the area, he hopes to get more Indigenous people involved with gaming.
Their consulting business began as a response to contract work Plamondon and Gravel had been doing with Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, who opened a Treaty 8 Urban Office and asked them to help develop and deliver youth-focused social media content.
When they first began, Plamondon and Gravel knew working with Indigenous communities and helping youth develop better life skills was at the foundation of what they wanted to do. Plamondon’s background is in human resources, while Gravel has a degree in recreation, sport and tourism. “[Gravel] was really interested in the workshop model. That’s when we decided that we would develop a workshop model utilizing her experience that she developed at the U of A and then my passion for gaming and pair those off as a better way to engage those youth.”
Tabletop games come into play as a way to engage people. “At the end of the day, when people are having fun, they’re going to be a lot more receptive to absorbing and taking in whatever the goal of the session is.”
Games also help people interact with others.
“When you make the transition from, say, Little Red River Cree Nation, which is extremely isolated [in] Northern Alberta, to somewhere like Edmonton or Calgary, it can be a really big culture shock to not be part of that direct Indigenous community,” Plamondon explains. Their goal is to help these individuals to develop a bit of a social base.
But when they contacted game distributors, they discovered they needed a storefront. So, Pe Metawe Consulting created Pe Metawe Gaming, which allowed them to sell the games as well.
Pe Metawe Games also develops teaching guides that accompany the games. This allows community groups to either bring Pe Metawe in to conduct the workshop or purchase the games and educator guides accompanying the games.
Not only do they hope more Indigenous people will become involved with gaming, they also want to be a place where people are comfortable coming in and learning about games. They hope to build better representation for underrepresented groups in the gaming world. With the typical gamer and staff member at gaming stores being white males, it can be a little intimidating.
“It is not to say that the gaming stores in Edmonton aren’t very welcoming. I’ve patronized probably almost all of the gaming stores in Edmonton, and I have had a good experience in all of them. I think the work they do is great,” Plamondon says. “But I think it’s hard to build a space that is actively and openly inclusive of Indigenous people, of people of colour, of people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. That’s the work we want to do. We want to create a space where people feel comfortable and welcome in.”
Pe Metawe Games will have a small retail space, with a community gaming space and two private gaming rooms for rent. “We likely won’t open the community space until, at very least, the vaccine has had a majority roll out.” They are looking at adding Plexiglas dividers to allow cohorts to come in and play games. They also have virtual drop-in games people can play.
As of press time in January, they were awaiting final development permits from the City of Edmonton, but hoped to open by the beginning of February.
It’s $5 to play at the community tables, although they won’t turn anyone away if people can’t afford the fee.
For more information, visit: pemetawe.com/games/ or their social media pages.
Feature Image: David Plamondon (pictured) is the co-owner of the newly opened Pe Metawe Games. | Stephen Strand
PE METAWE GAMES
11805 94 St
Tentative opening: beginning of February
Mon to Thurs: 11 am to 8 pm
Fri and Sat: 11 am to 10 pm
Sun & holidays: 10 am to 6 pm