Game Retailers Association Board of Directors
Rhonda Becker - Chairperson of the Board
Rhonda’s goals as a board member are to develop opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to work together on promotions and growing the industry for mutual benefit. She also wants to address negative stereotypes of game stores by helping retailers grow and better themselves through best practices and shared experience.
Rhonda is the owner of a game store located in a small town of 8000. Over the past thirteen years, the store has seen the ups and downs of the industry. Building community and appealing to the public has been crucial in building a business that now employs four part-timers and provides events every day of the week.
Ryan Johnson - Chairperson Emeritus
Ryan Johnson, a US Navy Veteran from Michigan, began his career in the game industry in 1994 at the age of 21 as the founding partner of the Guild of Blades Publishing Group, an independent small game publisher. As an early pioneer of game community building on the web, Guild of Blades Publishing established itself as a small publisher of note during the turbulent industry consolidations of the mid to late ’90s.
While GOB Publishing survived and grew through that turbulent period, it remained a part-time venture for its partners for its first eight years. During that time, Ryan served as key Brand Manager and Director of Marketing positions for a couple dot com companies. Using that experience, Ryan then led GOB Publishing through its development of 1483 Online, a turn-based MMOG with over 15,000 beta testers, that the company later shelved pending platform upgrades.
In 2009, Ryan and Wife, Amnouy Johnson, founded GOB Retail, the first hybrid Game Store and card game and RPG Print on Demand company. While the print on demand component of GOB was put on hiatus several years later pending equipment and process invention, the retail store aspect of the business grew to become Michigan’s largest game and comic book store.
In 2016 Ryan became one of the founding members of the Game Retailers Association, and is currently serving on its board as Chair Emeritus. He is looking forward to expansion of his retail and publishing ventures and a relaunching of the print on demand business, including adding board game and comic on demand printing to its lineup.
Brian Polizzi - Event Chair
In 1975, Brian Polizzi was introduced to comic books, which turned out to be a pretty good thing, as many years later, in 2005, he opened a 900 square foot comic book store. He then noticed that people were coming in to use his tables to play Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: The Gathering, and D&D, so he started carrying games, which eventually included board games and various lines of miniatures, and THE DARK SIDE became a fully operational, ever-evolving comic and game store, now with eleven employees and 6500 square feet of combined retail and community space.
It wasn’t easy building the business. Brian’s prior experience included no business background, his only training coming from a B.A and M.A. in Literature and five years as a Senior Network Administrator for a national law firm. There was a lot to learn along the way, failure looming at every turn! What could be done to spare others this potentially disastrous learning curve? An organization was needed to educate and provide a voice for game store retailers, so Brian co-founded and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Game Retailers Association.
Matthew Vercant - Membership Chair
Matt is an English professor turned game store owner. A veteran of the game industry, he has worked multiple roles from manual editor, board game manufacturing, and regional management of a chain of game stores. To learn more, visit vercant.com
Erika Stokes - Records Chair
Erika is an entrepreneur at her core. Having owned several small technology companies, she got into the game business in 2003 with her first game store, Performance Games & Books, later renamed Relentless Games. Erika later returned to the game retail business in 2008, with the acquisition of Silver Dragon, transforming it into her current store, The Relentless Dragon.
Over the years, The Relentless Dragon has moved, grown, and expanded, and is currently one of the largest game stores in the state of New Hampshire, offering a safe and inviting place to buy and play games for everyone.
In 2016, in addition to joining the first Board of Directors of the GRA, Erika founded FLGS Distribution, a small distribution company focused on serving brick-and-mortar stores by carrying small products such as dice and other game accessories.