Ann Arbor, Michigan
An Eagle Eye On the News

The Skyline Post

The Skyline Post

The Skyline Post

Sylvan Factory Conjures Magic and Community for Ann Arbor Gamers

Adventurers+League+attendees+explore+the+Temple+of+Death.+Credit%3A+Leif+TenBrink.+
Adventurer’s League attendees explore the Temple of Death. Credit: Leif TenBrink.

On a Friday night, amidst Westgate Mall’s stronghold of storefronts, the tables at Sylvan Factory spark with excitement. Gamers hailing from all corners of the Ann Arbor area file into the back half of the store, the tables populated by arcane spells and monsters rearing for battle.  Employees summon order for tonight’s Magic: The Gathering tournament pool. 

“It’s all people just coming together to do the same thing that we all really like,” says student Malcom Jemison-Blais (‘26) of Magic nights at the Factory.

The store was opened in June of 2022 by owner Todd Maddock, who wanted it to be a safe place for gamers of all ages and identities to celebrate their shared passions.

“As gamers, as hobbyists … you go where you feel accepted,” says Maddock. “All of our decisions are [about] … how do we include as many community members that might be misrepresented or underrepresented.”

Sylvan has a weekly schedule of regular events for all tabletop gaming interests, including D&D Adventurer’s League on Tuesday nights, casual Commander nights on Wednesdays, and open board gaming Thursday and Sunday afternoons. 

“It’s very inviting,” says student Ethan McElmeel (‘24), who has attended a couple Magic nights at the Factory. “The community’s very nice. … Even the workers, they seem like they know everyone in the place.”

And when the back tables aren’t occupied by a store event, anyone can drop in and use them as a public gaming space.

“Any night that we have free table space … friends and groups are always welcome,” says Maddock, indicating a table in the corner covered with cards and playmats. “Even now, there are people who aren’t necessarily here for [Friday Night Magic].”

In addition to the typical weekly schedule, the store also hosts summer camp sessions for younger gamers, and are happy to have high schoolers on as counselors.

Jemison-Blais, when asked about their experience working at a summer camp session, said “It was really nice to work there, and I think I’m working there again this summer.”

The store’s role-playing game events also present some interesting volunteer opportunities for students who are members of Skyline’s National Honors Society (NHS) chapter.

Normally, volunteer Game Masters (who are responsible for preparing and running game events) are compensated by Sylvan Factory in store credit. According to Skyline Counselor Liza Dedvukaj, though, one of Skyline’s NHS advisors, students can use that experience as their meaningful volunteer opportunity for the trimester if they forgo compensation. 

Donate to The Skyline Post
$185
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Skyline High School. Your contribution will allow us to cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Skyline Post
$185
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal