The 5 People You Meet at a Used Video Game StoreBy Will Kreigshauser
Used video game stores are a lot like used record stores. They function like some sort of communal, hipster gathering place where dudes can hang out and make fun of whoever walks in—the same kind of placeholder segue setting you see in every Kevin Smith movie that takes place in New Jersey. They differ from used record stores, however, in that they’re not… shoot-yourself depressing.
There’s a low-key, hopeful hustle & bustle, like how an old-folks home might look like if everybody visited their grandmas a couple of times a week and took them back home to play polish horseshoes.
Used record stores now only exist to be a place in a ‘watch-how-they-fall-in-love’ montage in a romantic comedy. They’re quaint, dusty, cute, and useless to all but a few aging baby-boomers who like to get reminded of how they used to be able to do the no-pants diggity and not wake up with AIDS covering their balls. The fact is there are way more old gaming consoles out their than there are old record players, which means even used games as far back as Vanilla Ice still get picked off the shelves, sometimes.
So who, pray, might a person find at one of these charming establishments? A variation of five different kinds of people, mostly.
Somebody’s gotta run the store, right? These guys are the nicer, younger, thinner equivalents to the comic-book store guy from The Simpsons, except most of the population still uses video games for something besides movie adaptations, so they actually do get laid. The store I walked into had a surprising amount of guys working behind the desk for a Saturday afternoon, and they were loving it as much as anybody would love hanging out and tinkering around with relics from their childhood all day. These are the guys that told their guidance counselor to fist himself, and are reaping the rewards.
The funnest, easiest way to get through all seven years of college is video games. But some college kids don’t want to put their time, effort, and parents allowance into an X-Box 360 and every ridiculously expensive new game that requires stuff like strategy, thinking, and controllers with more buttons than A & B.
So what do they do? They bring their old systems from back home to their new apartment, go to a used video game store, and raid the classics. Donkey Kong, Contra, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. I and III (not II, everyone knows that one sucks).
For them, it’s like going back in time, and punching time in the dick. They can finally conquer every game that stiffed them back in the day. Except for Final Fight for Super NES. On regular settings, that one’s just as impossible now as it was then.
These guys are perpetually 4-5 years behind the video game curb. They’re the ones who, as kids, always had to go to somebody else’s house to play Mario Kart. Some of them stray behind because they don’t have the cash to keep up, or have mitigating circumstances like family and/or a real job that doesn’t pay enough for them to be the first in line the night before a new console mega-release. While all their friends are starting franchises on Madden 2011, they’re sifting through the aisles and finally getting cracks at College Football 2006, or Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater.
Sometimes, people fall out of love with video games as they grow up. They haven’t touched a controller in years, but they still have their old systems and games piled up in their closets, along with their Hulkamania t-shirts and Ultimate Warrior bicep tassels. It’s a real treat when they finally find out used video-game stores exists, because they thought for the longest time they’d have to eventually trash their old games and accept the fact that they were not only responsible, boring adults, but puppies sometimes get run over by cars. Goddamnit being a grown-up sucks.
The only reason you’ll find them at a used video games store is their little kids—with whom their enthusiasm for video games directly correlates. For them, it’s less stress and less work than introducing them to hockey, or pretty much any organized school-sanctioned sport except for soccer.
They like used video game stores because everything is cheap – well, cheaper—than the retail stores, so there’s no arguing or tough love involved when they have to squash little Jimmy’s hopes of for once being the coolest kid on the block because $50 is $40 too expensive to spend on somebody whose attention span whores itself out to pretty much anything with a blinking wheel, a jingle, or a dragon.