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Gaming museum seeks help until grant funding restored

Beaverton's IMOGAP needs assistance through end of the year


TIMES PHOTO: MANDY FEDER-SAWYER - There is almost no end to the number of games, or their variety, at Beaverton's Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery.In a modest space, tucked away in a Beaverton industrial park, it is always game on at The Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery (IMOGAP).

But an oversight in the grant renewal process is translating into big trouble for IMOGAP, a charitable organization that is also the largest publicly accessible collection of games in the country. IMOGAP is in jeopardy of losing its space at 8231 S.W. Cirrus Dr. and has already lost much of its operational funding.

Carol Mathewson and Kyle Engen are the co-stewards of operation of the non-profit that boasts more than 4,400 games.

“Our grant funding should be in place next year, but this year we are in serious shape,” Engen said.MANDY FEDER-SAWYER - Kyle Engen (along with Carol Mathewson) is one of the co-stewards of the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery in Beaverton. The couple is holding a 24-hour gaming event on Sept. 17 to raise funds for the non-profit.

Mathewson further explained that, at the same time the grant money was not available, their insurance company also added new restrictions to their policy that prevented IMOGAP from running its usual summer camps, which typically help finance operations greatly.

In response, Engen and Mathewson began reaching out to the public for help. They are encouraged by the support they have received in the last month, but still need much more for the charity to continue to function.

They are asking for help in the forms of monetary donations, volunteers and leads on lower-rent locations.

About 50 people of all ages go to IMOGAP every day to play, socialize, attend events and learn the history of games worldwide from every genre and every period of time.

Among the exhibits at the museum is a display featuring 100 years of games, and another of specifically Oregon board games. An exhibit of regional Native American games honors history and culture.

IMOGAP was born when the couple realized there were no board game museums in the United States and wanted to create an educational place when they opened the museum more than three years ago.

“What defines games for me is rules,” Engen said. “Making sense of rules is a fundamental mental operation. We hypothesize rules and see how they work.”

The mission of IMOGAP is “to reach a hand across every social, economic and cultural boundary to engage other humans in structured play.”

Engen and Mathewson believe the “exploration of ideas that are modeled by games and puzzles can produce common ground, encourage creativity and enhance learning.”

The couple celebrates “the aesthetic, historic and functional beauty of structured play and its components.”

IMOGAP is gearing up for a fundraising event called THRAG, which stands for Twenty-four Hour Raffle and Game-a-thon, that will begin at noon on Sept. 17 and wrap up at noon on Sept. 18.

The event will feature: giant dominoes; a Rocky and Bullwinkle party game; “Design Slam”; two-player games; “Magic Draft”; adult party games; Lego creations; and trivia contests. Snacks and drinks will be available. Music and movies will be another highlight of the 24-hour event. The event is open to the public. Raffle tickets for various prizes will be sold for $5 each.

IMOGAP is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 503-469-9998, or visit www.imogap.org.