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Your retro/independent gaming shop memories

by Reprise Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:06 pm

I'm not sure if this is something people would be interested in discussing, but I'll give it a shot anyways... What are some of your memories of retro and independent video games shops growing up? If you have pictures or can find them on the internet, then that would be cool too. I thought I would cover some that were a pretty big part of my childhood, teenage years and early 20s and explore how these shops have adapted and changed with the times and, ultimately, how many have sadly died off, as the big chains have dominated and smaller shops have struggled with the rise in online retailers and Ebay.

I started thinking a lot about the old shops I spent many of my years exploring after someone posted in the Saturn Junkyard Facebook group about how they discovered the Saturn and grew their collection through a retro games shop that just happened to be the same shop I spent much of my childhood in (R Games in Gloucester)

I don't know if the death of the 'independent' video games store is such an issue in the USA (I'm always seeing videos about cool games shops in America on Youtube), but it has been something I've witnessed in my area of the UK.

So, without further ado...

R Games (Gloucester)


Open (roughly): Early 1990s - 2013
Facts: Fantastic Mega Drive Collection, games were always in great condition, friendly and knowledgeable staff, willing to haggle on prices, would let you test games before buying, somewhat hilarious business model towards its death where the owner was reluctant to sell some of the rarer games to me and would tell me "to be honest, you'd probably be able to buy it cheaper off Ebay", never really sold Dreamcast games much for some reason.

R Games was one of the first video games shops I visited on a reasonably regular basis. My first console was a Mega Drive and my parents and I used to go into Gloucester as a family about once a month or so. Each time, I would love looking in the shop and going through their Mega Drive collection. That was in the early 90s when the Mega Drive was a contemporary, modern console. I have no idea if it was always a retro store, but what I loved about the shop is it didn't move with the times. The Mega Drive was their largest library of games in 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. I was still visiting there through my teenage years and last went there in 2011 when I was in my twenties. They also sold NES, SNES, N64, Master System, Saturn, GameBoy and lots of other console games. They'd have a lot of quality, but fairly common titles, but they were always really reasonably prices and in perfect condition. If a game didn't have a manual, the owner would normally knock some money off the price. In the corner and behind the counter they had all their rarest games, which would be displayed almost like a museum.

Electronic Dungeon(Malvern)
Open: Mid 90s - 2003/2004ish
Facts: Owned by two hippy, weed smoking metal heads. Offered a childminding service to many parents who wanted to shop in peace by allowing you to play their N64 in store for 60p per hour (and often longer if there was no queue) or later on their Dreamcast for £1 per hour. Both loved and hated by parents simultaneously because of the aforementioned weed smoking, but loved because they could get rid of the 'brats' for an hour or two and pick them up later. Did lots of Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer and Role Playing games type stuff. Sold porno DVDs on the top shelf. Controversially sold and traded pokemon cards separately for high prices, which was allegedly the only thing that kept them in business for the last few years until Pokemon cards died out.

Electronic Dungeon is another shop from my childhood. My biggest memory of this one was that it was basically a local 'hangout' spot for kids my age growing up. This was because they had a TV with a N64 hooked up to it and you could pay 60p and play any game you wanted for an hour (or longer if there wasn't a queue). This was just a standard rate, so if 4 of us went up and wanted to play some Mario Party or GoldenEye or whatever, we'd just pay 12/13p each. The owners were really cool too. They were just a couple of hippy, stoner, metalheads and were always smoking weed at the back of the store. Later on, pokemon cards came in, they started selling those separately, which was a bit controversial at the time, but it kept them afloat. We used to go into town and buy pokemon cards we needed from them and then play some N64 or Dreamcast. They got a Dreamcast on launch day, so the day the console launched, my friend and I went up to town and paid £1 to play on their Dreamcast after school. It was pretty cool that you could go and experience a new console like that without having to buy one.

Their main retro collection over the years was their Mega Drive games. Unfortunately, towards the end of its life, they mostly just had crappy sports games and common as muck titles and their rarer games just went straight up on Ebay. They were still a good store for accessories though. They always had controllers, memory cards, cables, rumble packs for most consoles.

More gaming stores to come from me in due time. But I'll leave it there for now.
Own: Sega Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation One, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PS Vita, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, OUYA.

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