Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Video Game Visits" by The Retro Video Game Addict

 Remember a time way back when you were young and there was something really special and magical about visiting a Toys R Us, Toy Works, Funcoland, or any random department store that sold video games? Sure you do, we all do. It's a feeling that's etched in out brains for eternity and brings us moments of joy when we look back on them. Well, today that's a base I'd like to cover on my blog through a little post I'm going to call, “Video Game visits”.
     I remember back when I was a kid and my mother would go out shopping and I would tag along and she'd stop off at places like the supermarket, or maybe a quick outing the mall for some clothes or housewares. It was always fun as a child to go out and go shopping with her, it's one of those cool childhood memories that will always live on inside my head. But sometimes, not always mind you, but sometimes I'd get lucky and she would be stopping into one of my favorite stores and I'd get a chance to visit the video game section. And what a joy it was!
     Now, back in the day when the NES was king of the mountain the local department stores proudly displayed their NES wares in giant glass cases that often donned the famous “World of Nintendo” light up display sign at the top. To flesh things out there would often be an NES hooked up to a monitor that would be displaying whatever the latest hit game was and you could play it for a few minutes before either someone else wanted a chance or the demo would loop back to the start screen. It was really quite a glorious time and something I remember quite fondly as a child. The games were marvelously displayed in the glass cases and it reached out and drew you in with colorful boxes that sported amazing artwork on the front that made you just want to beg your parents for a new game. It was the most colorful part of almost any department store aside from the toy section and the sounds coming from the games being demonstrated was enough to draw your attention from whatever your parents were looking at and put you into a state of pure bliss.
     Today it seems as if department stores don't even carry video games anymore, in fact not a lot do. I remember JC Penny, Woolworths, Sears, Caldor, Ames, Bradley's, and other major stores all used to carry video games but now many of those companies are out of business and the remaining ones sell mainly clothing and housewares without a trace of video games to be found. Sad isn't it? Yeah, now you can only find video games at Walmart or Target, unless you're seeking out a destination store like Best Buy or Gamestop. Heck, even Toys R' Us doesn't sell video games in the bulk they used to. Yup, their video game department has been somewhat renovated into a general electronics department that houses video games among many other gadgets.
     Back in the day Toys R' Us had rows and rows of video games, almost as far as the eye can see, and they also had systems set up so you can try out whatever the hottest new release was. But I remember the TRU by me didn't have the games stored in glass cases, instead they had the backs of the game boxes laminated on a single sheet with tickets attached that you would take up front when ready to purchase whatever title it was you desired. The great part about that was that you could see screen shots of the games on the laminated sheets and read the descriptions on the backs as you browsed, it was really quite genius of Toys R' Us to do that. These days they have the games out in protective cases for the consumer to grab, which is more convenient but since they don't stock much it doesn't really matter anyway because nobody buys games at TRU anymore.
     Once in a while I was lucky enough to be treated to something special and my mother or father would take me to the store specifically to buy a new video game. Man, knowing that when I returned home I would have a brand new game to play and a whole new experience to endure was really quite a feeling and the ride home was always so painfully long. Yeah, those long car rides home where you had the box in your hands and you would read the back of it along with the manual a dozen times over before finally arriving home and being able to play the game. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
     This didn't happen too often though, most of my video games came on birthday's and on Christmas, only on a few occasions before my mid teens did I ever get to enjoy a trip to the store to actually buy a game. But man, when it happened it was always the best. Birthday's was always a big time for me to get a game or two and knowing that I'd be receiving one always made the week leading into it a slow and painful one. Same went for Christmas and it was probably ten times worse knowing that I may even be getting a whole new console. The Christmas I got my SNES I had found out about a month before and let me tell you, that month dragged ass like you wouldn't believe.
     Anyway, I'm rambling on and on and I just wanted this to be a quick blog about those special feelings you'd get whenever you visited the video game section of a department store or had the chance to actually go to a Toys R' Us or any of the various other toy stores out there to look at or purchase a new game. There was just something special about it back then that seems to be lacking here in the ol' 2013, I guess the wonder of gaming has been lost to the sands of time and the age of “uniform” gaming displays within retail is upon us (or has been for some time).
   No matter what though, those classic feelings and the memories we have of our childhood and going to the store to look at video games, or to buy one, will live within us all until the end of our days. It's comforting enough for me to know that all I have to do is close my eyes and envision these moments and I can be taken back to a time where retail treated their video games with respect. These moments may be lost to the sands of time but yet they're so alive and vivid in my head, and yours too. Gotta' love it!

Twitter - @OfficialRVGA
© 2013 Bill Mulligan


  1. I remember the World of Nintendo sign! But one of the things I really miss are instruction manuals, when I was a kid I was look at them 100 times over and study the art etc, and now if you are lucky you get one piece of paper :( Christmas and Birthdays were super awesome though cause you knew that was your chance to get a new game. How I miss those days :( Great article though, really took me back!
    Alana @retrogamergirls

  2. Great article, really took me back. Just got myself a SNES for Christmas with Zelda : A Link to the Past to sit alongside all my other old machines and Megadrive