Monday, 26 March 2012

An Ode to the Game-shops (by Katie Highnam)

Once upon a time, on the bustling high-street of yore there was a shop that existed to service the needs of a generation. With time however this shop sadly fell into decline. The old fashioned record shop, where you could listen to the music before buying it, flip through the LPs and god knows what else, I certainly don’t. I was too young for this type of store.

There is another shop on the high street that I love beyond all others, (except maybe the chocolate shop) and that also seems to have passed its heyday, which I think is a shame: the gaming store.
Recently in the UK the gaming shops have been having a hard time of it. EA have been refusing to supply some stores because of credit issues making it impossible for all the people who pre-ordered Mass Effect 3 from these shops to get it. When Europe’s largest PC and Video games retailer is having these sorts of issues, in such a large and popular market that is undergoing substantial growth, you know there must be something wrong.

Games are immensely popular so a games shop should be a good business... right?

It could be that the staff of GAME are told to actively push unwanted products onto the shoppers, or because they are taught to target women for special attention some of these shops are not the best places to be. But yet, the same parent company also has another store, Gamestation, ostensibly in competition with the first, which is a safe haven for gamers, a home away from console. Always welcoming and friendly, always willing to stop and chat with customers rather than force them to buy, and with better prices, I think it would be a shame to lose this store.

 The issue comes not just from the convenience of buying online but also that fact that gamers, even at our most social, a fairly anti-social bunch. We don’t appreciate the shopping experience as much as we should, and the stores suffer. With the decline of arcades (London Trocadero was almost fully closed when I last visited) we are losing out on social gaming outside of an already made friendship group. I have often found (though maybe this is because I am that rare breed of gamer, a girl) that playing the test games in the game shops has led me to get to know some interesting people. Just like the arcades used to for the previous generation of gamers.

Back in the day folk would meet at Skittles theme pinball machines . Where have those halcyon days gone?

We need these specific high street stores, online might be cheaper, but you don’t get to chat with fellow gamers, attempt to flirt with the cute gamer girl that seemingly all these stores MUST employ as part of company policy. You don’t get to make friends within the community, learn about other games that might grab your fancy and get the social interaction your Mother always nagged you about online. And these high street stores are better than the other shops that sell our games, better than the super-market with its limited range and uncaring staff. Better than the music store that doesn’t pre-order the right amount of the games and that is just too big to have staff that actually know what they are talking about.

Take it from a shopaholic gamer, there is nothing better than the feeling of being in the game shop and having the game in hand waiting for you, knowing that you now own it and can run home to play it. It’s just better than paying and waiting a few days for it to arrive.  A game in the hand is worth two in the post.