Gaming Stores

  • Cruising home the other night, I was struck by a nostalgic pang for my favorite gaming store growing up and thought it'd be interesting to hear about stores from all over the country/world. So share some love for your gaming stores, whether they're closed or still kicking!

    Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, there used to be a store called Major Players and that store basically defined my childhood. My family didn't have a great deal of money when I was growing up, so renting games was a much more viable option than purchasing them and with the excellent deal of 'rent one, get one free' on Tuesdays, I was in that store basically every Tuesday for years. What really set this place apart from a rental place like Blockbuster was the selection and the employees, they all had a sincere love for RPGs, so even the extremely obscure titles were always there. As I grew older, they expanded as well, adding anime to their rentals and that was also my first exposure to it. When I look back on it, this store not only helped me play games that I would have never gotten to try otherwise, it ignited a lifetime passion that may have just laid dormant.

    When I was in my early 20s, they had to call it quits. The rental industry was all but a distant memory and their business model was no longer viable. I remember going in on one of the last days, seeing most of the shelves empty. I walked out of there with 50 movies (for $50, hard to pass up) and I remember another customer asking me if I worked there. I had honestly spent so much time in that building, looking over cases, reading about games, that it really felt like I had.

    So, what juicy details can all of you share about your favorite store?

  • The only fond memory I have of a store here was a video rental store (that still exists), that used to rent out SNES games, it was alright, we would go there like every two weeks and my paretns would let us pick a couple of games.

    Sadly my country is not really a good place for video game stores in general. Considering that taxes make a game be about $90 at retail, and that our wages are much lower than those in the US, until recent years original copies of games were not something most people could really afford. And in the PS2 days were everyone used illegal copies (including me) these would just be sold in small stores that didn't really offer much in terms of added value to the store.

    One place that I did think was super cool, and that I stumbled upon in Victoria, BC, was a street where I found, a miniatures shop, anime shop, game store, collectible store, comic store, and anime store, all in the space of one block, I was just walking around the place and stumbled upon it, and ended up spending hours just browsing around in there, would have definitively spend a lot more time in those places if I lived there.

  • @bard91 $90 at retail?! That's insanity.

  • I've got a nice used game/book/music/movie store in town here that I visit regularly. You can find some pretty cool things there at good prices.. some uncommon games, old consoles, etc and its usually in great condition.

    Nothing compares to the satisfaction/excitement of getting to rent an N64 game back in the day

  • Not really juicy, but here is mine: Whenever I wanted a specific game as a child, my parents would have to drive me to a town 20 kilometres away (not very far, but it still requires a ride), to this big electronic store. Twice I nagged them about it (both times for my birthday, I think). I've not even glanced at any other game, because I knew specifically what i wanted and no one would stop me to get them. I was just looking for that one disk, on the one isle. When I finally got them, I was the happiest child alive and these two games are still two of my favourites of all time. Even though they are not particularly well known/accepted, but they are very special to me. Partially because no other game gave me that special feeling of holding the box after months of waiting, and partially because they didn't let me down when I played them for the first time. Not even after watching every trailer a bunch of times. Also, I still love them after replaying them countless times.
    Those two games are Prince of Persia: the two thrones and Star wars: the old republic (Yes bought a disk for an MMO! So what!)

    So yeah, that's my story. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I would not take no for an answer, and I was never disappointed.

  • @Nillend Yep, there certainly is something special about craving a game, actually physically picking it up, and then taking that sucker home. Digital will just never hold that appeal, even if it is usually more convenient.

  • @SabotageTheTruth Exactly. ;)
    Also, nice profile pic.

  • @Nillend I always get confused looks when I tell others my party in FFVII is Cloud, Vincent, and Cait Sith, but I love the little guy.

  • @SabotageTheTruth Yep entry price for consoles here is at least $700 at retail, again with much lower wages, what most people try to do is get the consoles whenever they or an acquaintance goes to the US

  • @bard91 Wow, that's terrible. I guess I take my game/console buying for granted. It's the American thing to do I suppose.

  • @SabotageTheTruth said in Gaming Stores:

    Out in the west Texas town of El Paso

    Thank you for the Marty Robbins

  • There used to be this flea market that had tons of little shops for everything, and I recall there being about 8 or 9 different game shops at any given time. We didnt go there all to often, maybe 4 times in any given year. But when we did we would go look around at all the different stores to see what they had. Still remember seeing Megaman X going for $70 at one shop, then finding it at another for $12. Got one of my first import games there (Silent Hill Visual Novel for GBA)
    Also this flea market had this giant arcade, and I wish I could find pics from it.

    Other then that I we rented a lot of games from Blockbuster, when I was about 14 or so I would sometimes just wander up there to kill time. I would even put games and movies back on the walls and shelves. Which as a result almost go me a job there, although the manager who made that promise was transferred to another store a few weeks before I was old enough to apply.

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    I loved to visit games store whilst growing up. Every time I visited the big city, either with friends or family I just had to go into the game store just to have a look. I also remember this second hand game store me and my brother used to visit pretty much every weekend until they closed down, it was a dad and his son owning it so we loved to just talk about games with them whilst looking for whats new in.

    Other than that I loved this chain called "Webhallen" which at the time were located a bit awkwardly, so every visit were always a bit magical. Mostly it were just buying games over disk, so not much games to look at, but they had consols along the walls so you could play games. The best memory in the store were the midnight release of World of Warcraft: wrath of the lichking. Me and some friends went there right after school at like 4 in the afternoon. The store were still open as normal, so we just hung out played games and got some food in store. Then at 10 they closed down for a bit to prepare for the release. Since we had been there since the afternoon the staff put us first in line, which gave us the opportunity to take part in the competition they had - Won the game and 1 year of playtime! I was sooo happy.

  • @Lotias That sounds downright jolly. I remember trying to host a Madden tournament when I worked at Hollywood Video... that was a catastrophe.

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    @SabotageTheTruth Yeah it truly were a night to remember! Haha yeah hosting tournaments must be really hard!

  • I got heavily into games thanks to a market stall that opened in my local town, Burnley (UK) in the Mega Drive/SNES era. The guy did trade ins and always stocked the newest stuff whenever he could. My dad would take me and my brother along every week or so, we'd trade in a game or two and get something new. We became regulars and got to know the owner and the few people he had helping him run the stall.

    When the PSone and N64 were the in thing he had enough money coming in to rent out one of the larger shopfront style stalls rather than the static bay he had been using for a few years. The bigger shop meant he could have more stock and he started importing games and rare accessories from all over the place. Some of my favourite memories as a kid are of hanging out in that store with my brother and dad talking to the owner about games.

    Sadly it all came to a depressing end when Electronics Boutique opened up in Burnley town centre. The market store immediately began struggling and while we tried to remain loyal customers, EB just had better deals and the latest games, so gradually we started drifting towards there. While watching this man who had helped provide me with so much entertainment watched his humble dream of running a game store crumble around him.

    One day we went along to see what new stuff he had and the store was shuttered up and the signage had been taken down. We then became regulars at EB which eventually rebranded into Game in the UK then in an almost circular way I ended up working there for a couple of Christmases and the better part of a year.

    The job itself was pretty sucky and there was a lot of undue pressure to make sales targets and hit arbitrary milestones. But the staff in the store were great. We had a lot of fun and for the most part the customers weren't too bad. I made some great friends and got some surprisingly good life experience from it.

    A few stand out moments both good and bad:

    • My grandmother had died while I was away on holiday and my manager told me to "get over it and get on with the job" when I returned to work. I resisted the urge to punch him in the face and quit.
    • We had a display area for Guitar Hero World Tour and Rockband when they were still huge. One day someone came in and grabbed one of the hulking Guitar Hero World Tour band in a box sets and ran out of the store with it above their head. The feat was so amazing that everyone just stopped and stared instead of trying to stop him.
    • A customer once insisted to me that he could play PS3 games on his Xbox 360. I went to great lengths to explain Game's crummy returns policy to him and that he was literally throwing money away because he would be back the next day trying to return a game he could not play. The guy got angry with me and demanded to buy the game and that I was bad at my job for trying to stop a sale. He came back the next day asking for a refund. I did the nice thing and popped a new seal on the side of the box and gave him his money back.
    • A kid dropped trow and did a shit in the middle of the store one time, that was fun.
    • A kid threw up over a Mario Kart Wii display the Christmas when that was the hot ticket item. Our store's entire stock of it for that week was written off because of that >.<
    • I had parents trying to bribe me to get them Wii Fit Balance Boards when that was a huge thing. I somehow managed to resist the lure of extra cash on ethical grounds.
    • Nothing beats the feeling of refusing to serve a kid who is trying to by Call of Duty, them getting their parents to come in and shout at you and you explaining what is actually in the game and how the PEGI ratings system works. Then the parent turns to the kid and starts shouting at them :D
    • Seriously most parents view age ratings as difficulty levels rather than content indicators. IT IS CRAZY!

    The store is still there and I pop in occasionally when I'm back home but only one or two people from when I was there are still working there.

  • @thenerdtheword Wow, those are some amazing stories, thanks for sharing! I've been offered a job at Gamestop a few times now and I just have to politely decline each time. I hear the company itself doesn't treat its employees well, the hours are generally non-existent, the pay is negligible, and you get fired quickly for not forcing people to pre-order games - which ethically is pretty crap. I can imagine it would be a decent amount of fun to be able to talk games for most of a shift though.

  • @SabotageTheTruth said in Gaming Stores:

    @thenerdtheword Wow, those are some amazing stories, thanks for sharing! I've been offered a job at Gamestop a few times now and I just have to politely decline each time. I hear the company itself doesn't treat its employees well, the hours are generally non-existent, the pay is negligible, and you get fired quickly for not forcing people to pre-order games - which ethically is pretty crap. I can imagine it would be a decent amount of fun to be able to talk games for most of a shift though.

    Game in the UK isn't as bad as GameStop but they tend to operate on hiring a load of people for the Christmas rush then running on the minimum number of staff for the rest of the year. Most stores have a core staff that are usually there for a few years at a time until they leave (usually University or a better job) or get promoted through the ranks and get put in charge of another store. The key factor like you said is just getting to talk about games with the other staff. But you'd be surprised how many non-gamers work at places like Game.

    On the whole though the traditional store side of Game isn't doing too well at the moment. They've underperformed the past few Christmases and they just can't complete with the likes of Amazon. I also keep seeing and hearing stuff similar to what happened when they filed for bankruptcy a few years ago. (They don't currently have a store in Central London, stock they get from publishers is loaned to them rather than sold, etc.) As a larger company they are seeing more success in their growing gaming events business so I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years most if not all of their stores are gone and they just run events for gamers all year round.

    It would be a shame because Game is the biggest games retailer in the UK but that's the way things seem to be going.