I was sitting in the car waiting and watching a local video game store. It was a VGE store, locally run and operated. And as is on par with these video game stores, it was a hole. Old video game posters in the window with a big “SUPER NINTENDO” sign as though it was the latest and greatest thing on the planet. And a walk inside would divulge what you would expect; racks of used video games, a bin of DVDs, and random gaming crap everywhere. There’s something to be said for the hole-in-the-wall store, but it’s time game stores start to class it up a bit.
I used to work for a hole-in-the-wall (HITW) computer store, so I know first hand how they run and the mentality running behind them. They keep their overhead low by skimping on the environment. People come for the prices not for the store, right? In most cases true – especially given the clientelle these stores trying to get through the door. But I think it’s long overdue for a gaming store to style it up and actually have a video game boutique – a place that is a) clean, b) well lit, and c) just trendy enough to look cool but not over-styled.
What does that mean? It means you can’t let a video game person design the space. When you do that you get what we have today…with more wood paneling than you can shake a stick at. I’m a gamer and I know these stores. I can’t even tell you how many I’ve walked into and unfortunately they are like fast food places now. They are all uniform so you know exactly what type of vibe you’re gonna get and what type of people behind the counter you’re going to get. Some store needs to step up and shake things up.
They need to rethink the video game store. Internet sales are hurting everyone, big and small, so they need to distinguish themselves in another way. I think that way is environment and customer service – the basics to any good (successful) retail store. Prices are important and they need to be competitive, but giving people piece of mind is very important. Plus…lets not forget the type of gamer the Wii is creating. Casual gamers. Right now these people go to Wal-mart to buy their games. For most of them this won’t change, but some might go into their local store if they weren’t afraid of what might jump out at them or what puddle they might step in.
A lot of stores let you demo games on consoles, but these TVs are usually on the counter and make it very awkward for you to ask to play and try out a game or accessory. How about we make this feature a little more approachable so people can have fun? Have some nice kiosks or some couches or something – think shoe store – where people can casually try out games.
Video game stores have also lost focus. Almost every store I go in is selling DVDs and music along with their video games and parts. Why are they selling DVDs? When was the last time you bought a DVD from a video game store? Or a music CD? People, not even gamers, go to those stores for non-video game goods. These stores need to unload the DVDs and CDs in the back alley and get back to doing and learning what they do best – video games. I want people that know games but aren’t repulsive – someone that has an inkling of socialness.
In short – We need a video game store for adults.
A place where us “old” gamers can hang out without having to deal with the new blood gamers. They need their place and we need ours.